Pension changes in the horizon


OMERS By-Law Changes Update

In October, CUPE Ontario was made aware of a series of proposed by-law amendments being considered by the OMERS Sponsors Corporation (SC) Board. These changes, which included dramatic changes to the governance of OMERS, were voted only a few weeks later, on November 14th. These By-Law changes all required a simple majority to pass.

Working with allies, CUPE Ontario launched a campaign to protect members’ rights in the governance of their pension plan. In a few short weeks, OMERS plan members were able to successfully push back several of the changes. Unfortunately, many other changes were adopted. Some of those changes were not officially communicated to Sponsors – like CUPE Ontario – in the limited documents provided by OMERS. Despite repeated requests, CUPE Ontario, was never provided a formal copy of the proposed, tracked, By-law changes by OMERS.

Our Analysis and Your Right to Know

As a result of OMERS refusal to formally provide CUPE Ontario and plan members with the actual text of the By-Law changes, the only way to do a full analysis of what the OMERS SC Board voted to change on November 14th was through a side by side reading of the “old” and new By-laws. CUPE has now completed that process which is summarized below.

Plan members have the right to know the full details of OMERS By-Law changes – both before and after the vote. OMERS has finally provided this information on its website. Please click here to find tracked copies of all the By-Law changes the OMERS SC Board adopted on November 14th.

What we preserved – An Important Victory

  • The right of Sponsors – like CUPE – to directly appoint our Representatives to the OMERS SC Board which makes decisions about critical pension benefits.
  • The right of Sponsors – like CUPE – to remove our Representatives on the OMERS SC Board if we decide they aren’t representing the best interests of members 
What the OMERS SC Board Voted to Change – A Disturbing Pattern Emerges
    • All OMERS SC Board meetings and materials are now confidential. This means our CUPE Ontario OMERS SC Board Representatives will be prevented from sharing fulsome information, like future proposed by-law changes, with all of us unless the SC Board votes to make decisions non-confidential. This will dramatically impact all OMERS plan members’ right to know about important issues in their pension plan.
    • OMERS has removed the requirement for equal worker and employer representation on OMERS SC Board Committees. Since equal representation is an essential part of a Jointly

Sponsored Pension Plan like OMERS, this is a disturbing move away from truly joint governance of our pension plan.

  • The OMERS SC Board has voted to end the equal worker/employer Co-Chair model in favour of a Chair/Vice-Chair model. The Vice-Chair is a lesser role and there’s no requirement for rotating between worker and employer representatives. While there is a transition period, in a few short years this could result in both the Chair and Vice-Chair of the OMERS SC Board being employer representatives. This is also a serious move away from the joint governance of OMERS.
  • The OMERS SC Board has voted to change how their remuneration is paid, ensuring Board members are paid directly by OMERS and not through their Sponsors, for things like lost time, as is the practice for some worker-side representatives.
  • Encoding a narrow and misleading interpretation of corporate fiduciary duty which CUPE Ontario believes is designed to further separate OMERS SC Board Representatives from the plan members they represent. This change was NOT disclosed in the official information prepared by OMERS for Sponsors like CUPE.
  • Completely re-writing the confidentiality policy, further reducing the transparency and accountability of the OMERS SC Board to the plan members they represent. This change was NOT disclosed in the official information prepared by OMERS for Sponsors like CUPE.
  • Transferring roles and responsibilities from the representative OMERS SC Board Chairs to the hired CEO of the OMERS SC Board. As an example, the staff-position CEO will now be the chief spokesperson. This change was NOT disclosed in the official information prepared by OMERS for Sponsors like CUPE.
  • Removing all references to employee and employer side Member Groups which means there will be no more worker or employer caucuses during OMERS SC Board meetings. This would be like not having union caucuses during bargaining and diminishes the ability of our Representatives on the OMERS SC Board to bargain on the behalf of the workers they represent. This change was NOT disclosed in the official information prepared by OMERS for Sponsors like CUPE. 
Throughout this incredibly frustrating By-Law change process, CUPE Ontario worked with our allies, our SC Board Representatives and thousands of OMERS plan members to fight for our rights at our pension plan. While there were some important victories, we are deeply disturbed by the changes that were made to OMERS’ governing documents without proper notice, disclosure or consultation. As the union representing almost half the active plan members in OMERS, CUPE Ontario knows it is our duty to act as the guardian of not only plan members’ assets and retirement benefits, but their central role in the governance of this plan. We will continue to take whatever steps are necessary to protect CUPE members’ rights and retirement income security in OMERS.

2 thoughts on “Pension changes in the horizon”

  1. Dear OMERS Plan members,

    CUPE Ontario is profoundly disappointed to report to you that the OMERS Sponsor Corporation Board of Directors has voted in favour of eliminating the guaranteed indexing of your pension for service worked after December 31, 2022.

    The “Shared Risk indexing” proposal passed. This means that for service worked after December 31, 2022, annual indexing for that portion of your OMERS pension could be reduced or even eliminated. It is especially bad for younger workers or new hires who will have to work most or all their career without getting the guaranteed indexing of their pension in retirement. Plan members who are already retired are not impacted by this change.

    Indexing is the annual increase to your pension to keep up with the cost-of-living. Just like your union fights for wage increases, we must also fight for pension increases. Our living standards should improve, not decline. After a lifetime of work, workers expect to have a decent and secure retirement. That means having a pension that increases with the cost-of-living, so we don’t get farther and farther behind. Indexing is especially important for workers who don’t earn as much as they should. For example, the average pension for a CUPE school board worker after 30 years of service is only about $15,000/year.

    Ending the certainty that your pension will increase by the cost-of-living every year is a major blow to your retirement security. Instead of having that guarantee, it will be left to the Board to decide every year, with no real rules to follow. We will now have to fight every year to pressure the same Board that just eliminated guaranteed indexing to grant full conditional indexing.

    A two-thirds vote of the Board was needed for “Shared Risk indexing” to pass. If all the Worker/Retiree Representatives stood united and voted against it, it could have been defeated. Instead, it’s clear that some voted with Employers on this proposal. CUPE, OPSEU, ATU, CIPP and several other unions who collectively represent a majority of Plan members were opposed to this proposal. Through CUPE Ontario’s website, almost 60,000 e-mails were sent to the Board urging the Representatives to vote no. But the Board of Directors has ignored the voices of unions and Plan members and has eliminated guaranteed indexing in the middle of a global pandemic.

    Other plan changes were passed. The Board voted in favour of 3 technical changes that make OMERS service buybacks easier for workers on layoff or reduced earnings in light of disruption caused by COVID-19. These changes should have been implemented far sooner, but we believe OMERS decided to package them today with “Shared Risk indexing” in an attempt for a positive spin. The Board also passed an amendment that makes it easier for part-time, casual and contract workers to join OMERS – which CUPE Ontario fully supports. These other plan changes in no way make up for the fact that the Board has passed “Shared Risk indexing”, a major concession for Plan members.

    The past 9 months have exposed grave concerns about the leadership of OMERS and the direction the Plan is headed. A concerted effort has been made to distance the Board of Directors from the Sponsor Organizations and Plan members they represent. CUPE Ontario is extremely worried that the Board of Directors and key decision-makers have lost sight of the Plan’s fundamental purpose.

    We know this news is difficult during this already incredibly challenging time working and living amid a global pandemic. Members have been rightly focused on keeping our families and communities safe and healthy.

    I promise you that our campaign does not end here. CUPE Ontario members, the single largest group of members in OMERS, will never stop fighting for the indexing of our pensions. Working with other unions, we will campaign to take back the Plan from those who listen more to the bankers and Bay Street types than Plan members, and make sure OMERS is working in the interest of workers. We will never stop fighting to fix OMERS.

    Stay tuned for future actions.

    In solidarity,

    Fred Hahn
    President of CUPE Ontario

  2. Quid Pro Quo
    What is Quid Pro Quo it is a Latin term for the following.
    A favour or advantage granted or expected in return for something.
    When it is contingent upon the other, “ a favour for a favour”. Phrases with similar meanings include “ give and take “, “tit for tat”, “ you scratch my back, and I’II scratch yours”, and “ one hand washes the other”.
    Let’s apply Quid Pro Quo to the present day OPFFA and it’s executive board and now the OPFFA directors Chris Varcoe, Mississauga President, Dan Vanderliee, Burlington President, Oshawa President and yes guess who the fourth new Director of the OPFFA which hasn’t been announced yet for fear of backlash from the members is you guessed it the great FRANK RAMANAGNO, TORONTO PRESIDENT, OMERS BOARD MEMBER AND ALLEDGED CROOK
    So let’s see how this happened while this time last year all the above masterminds were all gather at the OPFFA convention in Collingwood . At this convention the full executive board brought forward a vote of non-confidence against our PTSD stricken Opioid addicted President Rob Hyndman for his incompetence and inability to do his job as President never mind Firefighter.
    This vote struck Hyndman very hard having to leave the convention under dress. so this is when the under belly of the OPFFA got to work on how to save Hydnman and his great reputation. This was lead by the great Freddy LeBlanc,13th IAFF District Vice President, you guessed FRANK RAMANGNO, TORONTO PRESIDENT, OMERS BOARD MEMBER AND NOW OPFFA DIRECTOR, Chris Varcoe, Mississauga President, Carmen Santoro, Oakville President and a few other nefarious Presidents.
    So the first Quid Pro Quo was to make sure the PTSD stricken and Opioid addicted President Rob Hyndman didn’t get voted out. So the under belly gets FRANK RAMANGNO to make a plea to the membership to defend Hyndman as President for future Quid Pro Quo. With FRANK RAMANGNO support and 3000 plus votes he secured Hyndman for another year. But it goes one step further with FRANK RAMANGNO the OPFFA concocted a constitutional change to allow executive members to finish their term even after they reach the age of 60 and retired. Guess who that is CARMEN SANTORO and here is the next Quid Pro Quo for FRANK RAMANGO, it sure looks like the OMERS BOARD MEMBER FRANK RAMANGNO is building up a lot of favours with the Dictatorship of the OPFFA.
    So FRANK RAMANGNO, TORONTO PRESIDENT LOCAL 3888, for his unwavering support of President Hyndman, FRANK RAMANGNO now receives one of the 4 new Directors Positions from PRESIDENT ROB HYNDMAN, in return for his Support last year. Now let’s move to the next Quid Pro Quo, supporting the change to the OPFFA constitution with his 3000 plus votes allowing CARMEN SANTORO to run for OPFFA President this year. Thanks FRANK for your underhanded self serving deals, and yes you guessed it again FRANK RAMANGNO, TORONTO PRESIDENT, has come out in support of yes you guessed it CARMEN SANTORO.
    So, the Quid Pro Quo that FRANK RAMANGNO has with CARMEN SANTORO IS for both the constitutional change to allow SANTORO to run for OPFFA PRESIDENT and the TORONTO’S endorsement of SANTORO for PRESIDENT is the guarantee that FRANK will keep his new OPFFA DIRECTORS POSITION and HIS GRAVY TRAIN OMERS BOARD POSITION if SANTORO is elected.
    By FRANK SUPPORTING the constitutional amendment and his UNWAVERING SUPPORT for SANTORO it keeps any new bright thinking candidate like KEVIN WHITE from being elected and changing the downward direction of the OPFFA and its self-serving DICTATORSHIP OF A EXECUTIVE BOARD AND NEW DIRECTORS. This organization thrives on QUID PRO QUO just ask our present PTSD stricken and Opioid addicted President Rob Hyndman, what happened to him 6 years ago when he ran for the #2 spot.
    So instead of having the insight of looking to the future with a young intelligent democratic thinking candidate FRANK RAMANGNO supports what serves him best a 60 year old over the hill Liberal partisan supporter CARMEN SANTORO. By FRANK RAMANGNO doing what he is doing takes any chance of the 70 plus medium and small size locals to ever have a voice or opinion. I would to thank FRANK RAMANGNO, FRED LABLANC, CARMEN SANTORO the present EXECUTIVE BOARD and the new OPFFA DIRECTORS for destroying and decimating the OPFFA.
    One last comment we still live in a democratic society in Canada so how do these new DIRECTORS get these positions without a vote by the members.

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