CUPW Pension Watch - Meeting On January 8, 2004

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Wednesday January 28 2004

Bulletin no.: 2002-2005/175

Pension Advisory Council (PAC)

The Pension Advisory Council's 7th meeting was held on January 8, 2004. The new chair of the Council is Louis O'Brien, who is involved in a number of aspects of the corporation but who is probably most familiar as the manager involved in the implementation of CPC's Business Transformation process. This was his second meeting with the council but his first as Chair.

He quickly learned that the Union representatives on the council are dissatisfied with the lack of pension education for plan members & the lack of clear process for dealing with member concerns. He seemed interested in getting these problems resolved and is in a position of authority in many of these areas. Hopefully by the June PAC meeting (or sooner), we will have some details to report.

In developing education for members, the PAC supports a 3-pronged approach. We suggest (1) Basic information for new hires about what the value of this pension benefit is (2) preparation for retirement for those members who are in mid-career and (3) for those members close to retirement - the financial and social impact of retirement. What would you like to see covered in pension education sessions?

We would like your suggestions.


Investment

The Council was provided with an updated list of companies that the pension plan invests in as part of the equity holdings. This usually sparks debate about whether there should be an obligation to consider principles such as social, human rights and environmental factors in deciding where to invest our money.

The whole issue of "ethical investments" is an important debate. Pension legislation requires those responsible for administering a pension plan to have a "fiduciary responsibility" to act in the best interest of the plan. That used to be interpreted to mean that the main goal was profit - no matter how it is made. In the past, that has allowed pension plans to invest in companies with terrible practices.

The Union assumes that most members do not want to have their money invested in harmful ways. On the PAC, we have been urging the Pension Division to be open to using ethical considerations as one of the factors when deciding where to invest. There is growing evidence that ethical investment is not only as profitable as traditional investment but in some cases has the potential to be more profitable in industries that are smart enough to look to the future and adapt their practices to be more environmentally friendly.

Ethical investment may mean different things to different people. Generally we want to support companies that don't engage in child labour or human rights violations or environmental degradation or attack trade unions and worker's rights. Another common example is avoiding investment in businesses that undermine job security. Our pension fund currently is invested in CPC competitors such as Fed Ex and UPS. How do you feel about your pension supporting a company that directly threatens our jobs?


Points of Interest

~ The Annual Report should be in the mail before the end of April. There had been a suggestion to reduce the amount of information in this report. Union reps & others on the PAC were opposed to changes and were successful in persuading the Pension Division to reconsider. Your suggestions on the kind of information you want to receive would be helpful for future editions.

~ Personalized Pension Statements will be produced in the spring of 2004. It is important that members take a minute to ensure that the information in this statement is correct! Don 't wait until you are ready to retire to pay attention to this benefit.

~ An information website is being constructed that should help members access better information on their

~ Pension Plan. This website is expected to be ready by the fall of 2004.

~ There will be a few questions related to pension investment in the next CPC employee satisfaction survey. This is a provision of the urban collective agreement and will be used as one method of seeking membership input into pension issues. This survey will be distributed in the fall and for the first time will include our RSMC members.

~ CPC reps briefly raised the issue of re-employment and the conflict it causes with the pension plan. Revenue Canada regulations do not allow someone to access their pension while contributing to it at the same time (receiving and accruing a benefit). To eliminate the conflict, CPC has decided that anyone who is re-employed while on pension will continue to receive their pension and not be required to start contributing again. This is a reasonable approach. The decision affects several of our RSMC members and some urban temps in our Union.

The next meeting of the Pension Advisory Council will be held June 28/04.

In solidarity,
George Kuehnbaum
National Secretary-Treasurer (1996-2015)
Cathy Kennedy
National Union representative - Grievances