The AGM business meeting received reports form the Executive Committee and elected new Executive Committee members. Those present also approved a increase of the Contributing Member fee to $25/year. See the 2015 Fall Newsletter for details.
An interesting panel discussion followed the business meeting.
Panel on Pensions
and Employee Group contact with the UGRA
Following the AGM there was a panel discussion with Alex Mckinnon representing the United Steel Workers, Wendy Morley representing the USW Local at the University of Guelph, and Scott Gillies, representing the University of Guelph Faculty Association. Robin Davidson-Arnott acted as the moderator.
The panel addressed three main issues. The first was whether there should be greater contact between the unions representing current employees and retirees in the UGRA. There seemed to be general agreement that no formal representation of the UGRA was necessary but that greater contact would be useful, especially for making current employees more aware of issues that might arise when they began to plan for retirement and for informing the bargaining teams of the unions.
The second issue addressed was the question of the inadequacy of our current cost of living arrangement for pensions. The panel seemed to be aware of this but the message that came across was that the pension contributions of their members had been raised significantly in the past few years to help address the shortfall in the pension plans and that it was unlikely that they would want to bargain to improve pension indexation if it meant an increase in contributions, and even less likely that they would want to extend this to people who were already retired (which is understandable). It is also evident that with pensions now firmly part of the bargaining process it is no longer possible for the University to give retirees an ad hoc pension adjustment as happened many years ago.
The final issue dealt with ongoing discussion with other universities in Ontario about the possibility of forming a Jointly sponsored Pension Plan (JSPP). Discussions are still ongoing and it is a complex process with many possible outcomes. The panelists seemed to think that it was unlikely that anything would change for retirees in terms of their pensions except that they would be paid from a different pool. The UGRA will continue to monitor development on this front.
The panelists provided a very lively and interesting discussion with lots of insights into the pension situation on and off campus and were very frank about the potential for any improvements to our pensions. While what they said was ultimately disappointing to us, I think that everyone who participated felt that it had been a very positive event.
— Robin Davidson-Arnott