Leaders of five Alberta public employees' unions and the Alberta Federation of Labour are concerned and disappointed by the sweeping changes to public service pension plans proposed this morning by Finance Minister Doug Horner.
If the changes introduced today are implemented, as Horner indicated he is determined to do, the bottom line is that Alberta public employees will have diminished pensions.
Members of Alberta's public service pension plans would have to work longer to retire, and when they retire their benefits will be reduced.
In addition, their retirement incomes will more rapidly fall behind inflation.
The minister himself has conceded, and pension plan actuaries have confirmed, that the pension plans are currently sustainable. There is no need for major cuts to benefits.
Public service union leaders were encouraged that the minister was willing to discuss shared governance of the plan, but believe that any pension benefit changes should be left to the employee and employer representatives to negotiate after shared governance is put in place.
Despite their unhappiness, the leaders of the Alberta Colleges and Institutes Faculties Association, Alberta Union of Provincial Employees, Canadian Union of Public Employees, Health Sciences Association of Alberta, United Nurses of Alberta and AFL are committed to continued discussions with the government and employers.
Olav Rokne, Communications Director, Alberta Federation of Labour at 780.289.6528 (cell) or via e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Time: 3:00 PM, Monday, September 16
Place: United Nurses of Alberta
11150 Jasper Avenue, Edmonton (Suite 700 – 7th Floor)
Participants: Elisabeth Ballermann, President, Health Sciences Association of Alberta
Gil McGowan, President, Alberta Federation of Labour
Guy Smith, President, Alberta Union of Provincial Employees
Heather Smith, President, United Nurses of Alberta
Marle Roberts, President, Canadian Union of Public Employees-Alberta
Olav Rokne, AFL Communications Director at 780-289-6528 (cell) or via email email@example.com.
File: G:\Communications\NEWS\AFL\2013\Media Advisory-Union Leaders Respond to Pension Announcement_2013 Sept 16.docx
Union Coalition Takes Legal Action to Overturn Changes to Governance of Alberta Local Authorities Pension Plan
EDMONTON - A coalition of important Alberta unions and the Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL) will commence legal action today to overturn recent changes in the rules governing activities of the board of the Alberta Local Authorities Pension Plan.
An originating notice of motion will be filed in the Alberta Court of Queen's Bench by the AFL and the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees, Canadian Union of Public Employees, Health Sciences Association of Alberta and United Nurses of Alberta.
The unions are members of the Labour Coalition on Pensions, representing approximately 125,000 members of the LAPP, which at $15-billion is Alberta's largest pension plan. The Amalgamated Transit Union and the Alberta Colleges and Institutes Faculties Association are also members of the coalition. AUPE is a part of the coalition but not a member of the AFL.
The coalition objects to a change introduced suddenly at the LAPP Board's Nov. 15, 2007, regular meeting that, if allowed to proceed, would break a long-standing agreement and deprive unions of a veto over decisions negatively affecting their members and retirees.
"This is an extremely serious matter of grave concern to our members," the coalition said in a joint statement.
Under rules properly adopted in 1994, the 14-member LAPP Board required a two-thirds majority to pass a motion. In addition, under those rules, a quorum was defined as eight members of the board, including four employer representatives and four employee representatives.
The 1994 rules were based on an understanding among the Government of Alberta, employers and unions that stemmed from pension reforms in 1991 and 1992.
Through the understanding, employees agreed to help pay for the LAPP's unfunded liability in return for an independent pension plan and joint governance, neither of which have been truly implemented. However, the rules governing the conduct of the board gave unions representing LAPP members a way to stop measures that would hurt their members or retirees.
Other properly constituted boards of Alberta agencies operate under rules similar to the old rules of the LAPP Board.
On November 15th, however, the LAPP Board adopted two changes based on an argument presented by their legal advisor. Under these changes, quorum would now be defined as 50 per cent of the members of the board and motions would be passed by a vote of 50 per cent plus one.
The unions dispute the arguments of the LAPP's legal advisor and object to the new rules.
The changes were passed by the board using the new rules as interpreted by the LAPP's lawyer.
The union action being filed today argues that the changes constitute a breach of the understanding stemming from the 1991-92 pension reforms and improperly take away the unions' agreed-upon ability to protect their members' interests.
In addition, the action argues that the board lawyer's opinion is in error and that the action of the board, based on that opinion, is improper and must be overturned.
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For more information contact:
Gil McGowan, AFL President @ 780.483-3021 (office) or 780.218-9888 (cell)
Carl Soderstrom, Director of Labour Relations, AUPE @ 780.930-3340 (office) or 780.719-7404 (cell)