CAW Retirees Fight For Pension Protection
November 13, 2007
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November 9, 2007
The Canadian Auto Workers union's retirees appeared before the Ontario Expert Commission on Pensions in Hamilton November 13, 2007. Their message was clear, protect workers' pensions now. Len Harrison, chair of the CAW Retired Workers Executive urged the Commission to increase the pension guarantee payouts and strengthen laws to protect workers pensions and benefits.
Chair CAW Retirees
"We're not just here for us; we're here for everybody who's retired. You've got a golden opportunity to put that right. You have a golden opportunity to make sure we retire in dignity and stay retired in dignity."
The Commission learned first hand from Glen Bradley, a retiree from Slater Steel in Welland how devastating it can be when a company goes bankrupt and the pension plan is underfunded.
Retiree Slater Steel
"I retired thinking that I was going to get "X" amount of dollars and I had my benefits. Then all of a sudden I had no benefits and my pension gets cut by 35%. I thought I had enough to cover the drugs after I had my stroke but now last year I paid $7,000 for my drugs and they cut my pension by 35% and possibly they could cut it again. Somebody has got to do something about it."
The CAW's national representative in Pensions and Benefits Jo-Ann Hannah said the retirees were able to put a human face on the pension crisis.
CAW National Rep Pensions
"They have been hearing a lot from the employers about the risk that the employers face in funding the pension plan. And I think what we did is talk about the risk that the workers take in the pension promise and I think they really appreciated hearing that and I think that is good. I hope that they will take that into consideration when they are looking at a balanced approach to providing pensions in Ontario."
Paul Forder, Director of CAW Retired Workers Department said the laws governing pensions are inadequate.
Director of CAW Retired Workers Dept.
"This Commission in Ontario is our opportunity to reform pensions, not just in Ontario but right across the country. We have in Ontario a pension benefit, a guarantee fund which only allows a maximum of a $1,000 per month for people who are caught in bankruptcies. We need this brought up to $2,800 a month just to stay even with inflation since 1981 when the plan was first created.
"We also have to have guarantees to makes sure there are early warning signals when the pension plans are in trouble, so that regulators can deal with it, and then the government can appropriately assess the risk to workers and the rest of Ontario."
The Commission will present its recommendation to the Ontario government next year. In the meantime the CAW is continuing its efforts to build support for pension protection by lobbying provincial and federal politicians.
CAW "Fighting Back Makes a Difference."