Wednesday, July 25, 2018
Dear Nova Scotians:
It is with profound disappointment that we find it necessary to write to you about contract negotiations with the East Coast Credit Union.
Unifor represents 44 full and part-time workers at three credit union locations: Antigonish, New Glasgow and St. Andrews. They originally made up the Bergengren Credit Union which amalgamated in January 2016 with the East Coast Credit Union (ECCU).
The mostly-female workforce, are dedicated employees who take pride in working for a community organization that says it “puts people over profits.”
Unfortunately, this isn’t the approach the employer has taken in its latest round of contract talks with workers.
Indeed, there has been little negotiation and a lot of dictating, including the decision by the employer to get rid of the defined benefit pension plan. This is despite the fact that the plan is in sound shape. The employer is seeking permission from the Superintendent of Pensions to replace it with a less secure plan.
This is not what was said at the time of the amalgamation when workers were promised that the new credit union would honour all employment obligations. At that time, the credit union accepted the DB pension plan as “prudent and acceptable.”
Now a mere two and half years later the credit union wants to push employees into a pension plan that will not guarantee an adequate retirement. It is the same race-to-the-bottom approach one would see from those who put profits before people.
The employer has called the current pension plan a “risk” suggesting it is so generous it would allow workers to retire on 90 per cent of their earnings. Let’s be very clear, there are no employees with enough years of service to come anywhere close to that alleged amount. The true replacement ratio is 42.25 per cent, including CPP for a member retiring at age 60.
The fact is this is not about risk, it is about ideology. The credit union has chosen to jump on the dump-DB-pension-plan bandwagon.
The action by the employer completely fails to recognize the years and years that employees either took concessions or accepted less in order to maintain a decent pension plan and each time they showed their ability to work with the employer.
On July 19th, a provincial conciliator with the Department of Labour filed a report to the minister. This started the countdown to August 2nd – the legal strike-lockout position for the employer and Unifor Local 2107.
Our members do not wish to disrupt service to the thousands of Nova Scotians who have chosen to support their local credit union. They love their work and have great respect for the people and clients they service.
But they also believe it is important to stand up for fairness, respect and decent retirement security – not just for themselves, but for the next generation of workers. Unifor remains open and willing to negotiate a fair contract.
Atlantic Regional Director Unifor
Unit Chair, Local 2107