If you do the math, it’s 9.31X40= 372.4X4= $1489.6 which is similar to an average house payment! Why don’t we have an updated pension plan? We spend so much money on our pension and our healthcare! notice the bottom of our pension plan REVISED JUNE 1, 2004! Thirteen years without an update, wth!
When faced with adversity the first instinct people tend to have is to stand up for themselves and then look for people in a leadership role to help them. Whether that is a parent, supervisor, an officer, or in our case typically a representative. Unfortunately, when the adversity is coming from that authority figure it can seem like an impossible challenge to overcome when taking it on alone.
Our leadership presented us with a 45000 hour requirement to be able to retire. It was the strength of individual members speaking out during meetings, and ultimately a growing show of solidarity by members going to the Hall in force to show that we were not going to take this weakening of our pension without a fight.
Tosh may claim in the future how he won a reduction to 35000 hours, but don’t forget, he was ready to settle at 45000 back in October. It was the Membership standing together that won the reduction!
In the next fight we have, let us look back on this and know that we can win when we stand together!
If you are reading this, then you are probably already aware that a lot of members suddenly had “something else” to do on Thursday of this last week. For most, it was to go down to the Hall and confront the business manager, Tosh, on how the pension changes are unfolding at the expense of the members. We could get into the weeds about the details of those pending changes, but hopefully you already know, and we should really take a stronger consideration of how Tosh has responded to the membership.
Facing 50+ members during “working” hours on a Thursday afternoon supposedly came to a surprise to the BM, so he REFUSED to meet with them. Instead putting off the discussion one more day, with a reason of “I didn’t know you guys were coming. Had I known I would have scheduled time to discuss” (paraphrasing here). This is BS. He knew that the membership was going to be on his doorstep Thursday. The possibility of an action was reported to the Hall on Wednesday the day prior, with a confirmation that the Hall was already aware of the pending situation. I don’t know what you think of this dancing around that Tosh is doing, but he is being untruthful even on the small technicality that this is.
There was a benefit of Tosh refusing to speak to the membership on Thursday. This gave an opening for the Rank & File to organize and come back the next day when with even more members. Estimates have been in the 75 – 100 members attended the meeting on Tosh’s terms and gave him hell about the proposed sNECA changes to the pension. Time and again, Tosh presented the options as something that they don’t have to do, but want your advise on how to proceed. Tosh is looking to make a bad choice for the membership, and then blame the membership for voting for that bad option on a rigged ballot. I’m calling it out as rigged, because the choices here are artificially limited by sNECA and a complicit Board of Trustees.
Three maybe four times (at least), the members asked Tosh, “what are you going to do now?” The response of “I don’t know”, is less than promising that Tosh is going to take our position seriously. The next pension trust meeting is on the 16th. Time and location is a secret, as they don’t want a picket outside during their meeting. But if they are refusing to listen to the membership, and the proposed changes that we would like to see implemented to save the 30K retirement AND the multiplier, what choice do we have? A picket may be the only thing that the membership can do now to prevent the tragedy that is unfolding.
The least damaging option presented to the members was graph A. This “solution” keeps the 30K retirement and does not change the multiplier. Unfortunately, this option was pulled from the ballot by our labor trustees because they do not think they can convince the management trustees to accept it.
Don’t believe them! If the membership is willing to put their money (an additional $0.80/hr) into the pension plan for a solution the Actuary suggested, then we should be able to win the Fiduciary Responsibility argument.
Write in “Graph A”, the choice comes down to $0.80/hr now or 5+ years of additional labor with reduced benefits.
Granted, this post is being made ahead of the meeting tonight, but our past turnout shows that there is little involvement by the membership. There has been no effort by the Hall to organize the Rank & File, and CORE 46 is still trying to make inroads with the most vocal, there will be a low turnout tonight as well.
Unfortunately, members have been led to believe that they should just rely on the Leadership they have elected at the Hall to protect their interests. Whose responsibility is it really though? The Leadership is acting on what they believe is in the best interest of the membership from their perspective, NOT from yours! The members need to hold the Leadership of our Local accountable, and push them in the direction that serves the membership first.
Time and again, the members put in motions which are ignored by our Leadership. This type of leadership is what causes members to say “What is the point? The Hall will do it anyway!” Do you really think they would if the membership was holding its own rallies or pickets in front of the offices of both the Local and NECA? Don’t try and pretend that the pension issues are just from NECA. Tosh told the membership not to put more than $1 into the pension even though the Actuary said we needed $1.83.
It is actually the last raise allocation which is now being cited as the reason we are not being given a 30,000 hour retirement option. The membership “choose” to only put $1 into the pension even though the Actuary said more was needed. Yea, and this was done at the “advise” of your Leadership.
We need to organize the Rank & File, and the Hall isn’t going to do it. If we don’t do it, we should expect to continue to give up more benefits and get lousy contracts.
The Employee Benefit Security Administration is part of the Department of Labor and oversees portions of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act. ERISA is the governing laws and regulations regarding pension plans, including ours. The pension trust must file annual reports with the IRS to stay in compliance with the law. Here are some details from the most recent filing that I could find. To have a look yourself, search for it here.
# of Participants:
3706, contributing $8,249/year
1537, receiving $26,571/year
Investment Gains (Loss):
Net Gain (Loss) 2015:
Those are the basic numbers… there is a lot more detail in those filings which will make your eyes glaze over, but… according to Jim Tosh there are around 78 retirees who are currently working and about half of those are working in the industry with an “exception” from the Trust. The “retirees” who aren’t retired are costing our pension plan around $1 MILLION dollars per year. That money is a subsidy that benefits the employers who no longer have to make pension contributions on their behalf, and it contributes to the depletion of our pension fund.
We pay for these exceptions benefit a few former members and their employers. The Foremen and General Foremen now classified as Superintendents, Head of Personnel, Quality Assurance Specialists, CAD / Revit Specialists, and or Safety Officer. These guys and gals are receiving a paycheck for their work and receiving their pension benefits at the same time. They are double dipping. They got into these positions through their participation in our collective bargaining agreements, and they continue their role with their employers by changing the title of their position so they can be reclassified as a “non-bargaining” unit member.
In return for this, the active participants in the pension, get to be told to reduce our future benefits, increase our current contributions, and don’t bother trying to retire at 55.
Pension plans are not supposed to be modified to benefit a few people at the expense of the majority of the participants. These exceptions reek of an ERISA violation.
Does anyone else feel like the Hall is really trying to push through their agenda as quickly as possible? The Business Manager attempts to move up the pension meeting a month ahead of the 90 day waiting period, and there was an article in the Sparks about how the changes must be made as soon as possible.
Hang in there folks, this fight is not over unless you let it be. The Business Manager was blocked from moving the meeting up to February, and in case everyone forgot, the pension is NOT in “Critical Status”. That means we have time. We can make small changes and see how things work out. We DO NOT have to give away Early Retirement, but we do have to GET INVOLVED.
We had a few CORE members tabling at this months Unit Meeting. We were handing out a little flier to remind everyone that the pension fight is not over. Lots of people signed up for our monthly email, and there was some good discussions about the issues we are seeing in the Local. If you haven’t signed up yet, you can do so here.
Recently you should have received your pension statement. With all the discussion about the potential changes to the plan, I was curious about what my average hours per year has been. Keep in mind that I have a family to earn a living for, and I have only taken 3 intentional vacations over the last ten years. Turns out, that over my time in the trade i have averaged 1540 hours per year. Without touting my horn too much, I am no slacker… but the 1800 hours the Hall wants to use for their analysis is over 16% higher than I have averaged.
How about you? How many hours are you averaging, and is the 1800 realistic?
Just a little reminder that at the next Unit Meeting on December 7th, we will be allocating our next raise of $3.25. At the last pension meeting, the Actuary stated that if we put $1.89 into the pension under “non-accruing” then our pension should come out of its downward projection. A $2 allocation would not be out of the question in this scenario, which would leave $1.25 for the check. What do you think about this?