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)