Government of Ontario cheating CAW employees out of pensions

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Government of Ontario cheating CAW employees out of pensions

I don't have a link, but many of you probably already know this story.

CAW employees which have been the economic backbone of this country for decades, and have allowed the automakers to make a fortune off of their hard labour, are getting screwed again.

GM and Chrysler are saying that they won't be able to pay their pensions, and as I understand it, there is a fund set up for just these sort of things. The maximum is $1000 a month (which is obviously not enough).

Now, the Liberals are saying that they aren't going to cover the autoworkers.

These workers were promised a very good pension, and it shouldn't matter if GM or Chrysler go under. That's not the fault of the workers. They should get their full pensions - and if the automakers can't pay the bills, then the government of Ontario should or else the government of Canada.

You can't promise something to workers and then not give it to them, when it is something that they have relied on and expected their whole lives.

Jacob Richter

Only the class struggle of workers organized at the grassroots level into their own political party, distinct from and opposed to the parties of the propertied classes and of the scabs, can push forward the appropriate demand for governments everywhere to nationalize all pension funds (thus underwriting them in a worker-friendly manner).

Sineed

But do you think it's right that the pensions of private sector workers should be underwritten by taxpayers, many of whom won't get pensions other than CCP?  

 

Bookish Agrarian

The auto companies and other 'too big to fail' companies have been paying into a special fund established in Ontario in the 1980s.  That fund was meant to cover exactly this kind of situation. 

Now of course the real problem is the under-funding of private pension plans.  Dramatic under-funding.  However, these workers should be able to draw from this fund.  They are being denied it.  In the past to when we have had a spate of these things during economic bad times government has topped up the fund.  Not this friend of labour Liberal government though.

Unionist

Sineed wrote:

But do you think it's right that the pensions of private sector workers should be underwritten by taxpayers, many of whom won't get pensions other than CCP?  

Sineed, the Ontario Pension Benefits Guarantee Fund is funded by corporations, not taxpayers. Finance Minister Dwight Duncan said somewhere (I'll look for a link) that it hasn't been properly funded for the last 30 years. If successive Ontario governments have negligently allowed corporations to underfund this plan established by law, the government must obviously accept responsibility for ensuring that the corporations cough up the money when it is needed - such as now.

Agreed?

 

Tommy_Paine

 

Let's not forget that both the federal and provincial family compacts are pressuring the CAW into further concessions at this moment.  This is clearly an attempt to terroize workers so that they accept more cuts in effort to stop Chrysler and GM from going into bankruptcy.

Whether what the family compact is saying about the funding of pensions is true, or half true, or complete falsehood is impossible to say at this point.

What I would say, as an autoworker, is that if there is no money for worker's pensions, then there's no money for M.P.'s and M.P.P.'s pensions. 

It is time for CAW leadership to make it clear that whatever catastrophe might befall the autoworkers, there will be reciprocity across the board.

 

Unionist

Hear hear, Tommy.

 

triciamarie

Many retired autoworkers worked brutally hard jobs for modest wages for decades, specifically in exchange for the commitment that they would be paid a decent pension. In effect, these pensions are their deferred wages.

Tommy_Paine

 

Interestingly enough, the only place where pensions are legally considered a deffered wage is in family court.

Unionist

[url=Found">http://www.windsorstar.com/Cars/moral+obligation+back+pensions+says/1483... it:[/url]

Quote:

When Jim McDermott finished his last shift at the Windsor Ford plant 20 years ago, he didn't think that, at 85, he would be at risk of losing his pension.

But that's exactly what he and other retired autoworkers now fear, after Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty told reporters this week that there isn't enough money in the province's pension guarantee fund to protect retirees if any of the Detroit Three automakers slide into bankruptcy. [...]

"What people don't understand is that the pension benefit guarantee fund has never been properly funded over 30 years," [Finance Minister Dwight Duncan] said.

Thanks for letting us know now, Dwight.

 

NorthReport

What is it going to take people to realize that any funds left in the hands of corporations will be stolen if need be to allow the corporations to succeed.

For goodness sake people, get your group benefits and pension plans away from these businesses and into the hands of your unions where they belong. Whoever negotiated these agreements allowing the corporations to access your pension plans need to get the boot, and be sent to see a shrink as well.  

Sineed

Unionist wrote:

Sineed wrote:

But do you think it's right that the pensions of private sector workers should be underwritten by taxpayers, many of whom won't get pensions other than CCP?  

Sineed, the Ontario Pension Benefits Guarantee Fund is funded by corporations, not taxpayers. Finance Minister Dwight Duncan said somewhere (I'll look for a link) that it hasn't been properly funded for the last 30 years. If successive Ontario governments have negligently allowed corporations to underfund this plan established by law, the government must obviously accept responsibility for ensuring that the corporations cough up the money when it is needed - such as now.

Agreed?

 

But...the OPBGF has only existed that long; it's been underfunded since its inception.  

Unless somebody has better info, it's a unique program within Canada.  

To recap: it's a unique, always-underfunded program, which doesn't mean it sucks.  But the underfunding came about as a concession to struggling large businesses in order to help them stay afloat.   Like, say, Stelco.

 

Bookish Agrarian

I wouldn't say the fund itself has been underfunded.  It gets drawn down when businesses fail and then later replenished by other 'too big to fail' companies.  Spanky's comments are rather self-serving (colour me surprised). In the past it has worked reasonably well to protect the interests of retired workers.  Not perfectly, but reasonably well in difficult market conditions that these things happen in.

What has been underfunded has been private pension plans in general.  Although because they are private we don't know the exact amount.  However, whenever we see a large business failure and the underwriting of pensions becomes public they are almost always underfunded, sometimes dramatically, unlike a public sector pension.

What is extremely unusual in this case is the actions of the Liberal government.  In the past if there was a large business failure the government came in and made up the short fall which was then replenished by companies like, well GM.  For some reason after giving literaly millions and millions in string free dollars to the companies in question the government has decided it will stiff the retirees.  If I wasn't so cynical about this government already I would be surprised given their rhetorical record.  After all it wa the people who built GM and Chrysler into profitable companies were the workers and the ones who failed to plan and adjust to changing markets and to manage their companies were the Executive level staff.  Yet government bailed them out and are giving retired workers the old one finger salute.

How's that sucking up to the Liberals working for you there Buzz?

Sineed

I guess what I have a problem with are all these people saying, the autoworkers are the backbone of Ontario's economy, etc, and if their pension plans go mams up, the rest of us have to ante up.  Including those of us who were never guaranteed such generous pension plans when we retired. 

Maybe auto workers would have been better off if so many of them hadn't voted in the Mike Harris Tories for 2 consecutive governments.

 

Unionist

Sineed, who said "the rest of us have to ante up"? Why do you keep saying this?

I thought I made it clear that the legal responsibility for funding of the PBGF was the employers, not the taxpayers.

So, would you agree that the government now send the bill for the shortfall in that fund to the corporations (such as GM) which didn't pay their share? Wouldn't that be better than the government, in effect, saying in advance that the fund won't be able to meet its obligations?

These liabilities were incurred, legitimately, over many years by employers who never could have attracted and retained the skilled labour needed without offering retirement security. How can they possibly be allowed to welch on their responsibilities now?

Make them pay.

Sineed wrote:
Maybe auto workers would have been better off if so many of them hadn't voted in the Mike Harris Tories for 2 consecutive governments.

That certainly would have averted the world economic crisis and the collapse of Big 3 auto sales, wouldn't it?

Your logic is a bit wanting here. Are you saying retired auto workers deserve to lose their pensions because of how you think they voted??

Bookish Agrarian

Why should seniors pay the price for government and corporate mismanagement of the economy?

Sineed

Because they helped mismanage it in the first place?

Sineed

Unionist wrote:

Your logic is a bit wanting here. Are you saying retired auto workers deserve to lose their pensions because of how you think they voted??

It's not a matter of what they deserve, but do you think it's fair to the non-auto workers of Ontario to pay for the pensions of people who were making a wage that was higher than most Ontarians?

Bookish Agrarian

Through their wages they also helped pay for hospitals, schools, unvirsities and colleges.  Not to mention all the money CAW workers have given over the years to youth sports, activist groups, cultural activities and on and on and on.  You can not have it both ways.

The CAW has been trying to push the Big Three off of their dependence on gas guzzlers for years.  No worker, or even the Union has any control over what vehicle comes down the line.  That is a corporate decison, often managed through government involvement.

Sineed your premise is faulty just on the face of it.

madmax

Anyone following the Ontario Pension Fund to top up underfunded pension plans would know that it would not be able to sustain itself prior to any Autoworker announcement.

However, the funding is confusing to many people.  The purpose was to add, UP TO $1,000 to an underfunded pension.

Thus if you were entitled to $1,500 per month, and you were underfunded by 20%, the government would come in and topp up the difference based upon the missing %.  Thus the person because of underfunding was going to receive only $1200/ month, the government would add in 80% of the missing fund. So the person would receive $1,440 dollars per month.

It isn't a $1000 cap, unless for some reason their isn't a DIME in a pension plan, which would be a first :)

There is upto $1000 that can be added to your underfunded pension.

For the Government to back out on this committment should mean holy hell!!!  The Ontario Government has sold industry down the garden path, and now wants to walk away from pension support.

I think it be prudent for all Ontario Politicians and Civil servants to offer up their pensions if they think this is a noble practice.

I believe the USW fought Stelco for years in CCAA to protect their pensions and WON.

The CAW is going to have to do the same thing. I believe alot of this "bankruptcy" is pure posturing for alot of Ontario Manufacturers who want to relocate operations and have virtually no liabilities or responsibilitys in the country they are leaving.

IHMO :)

 

 

Tommy_Paine

 

So, you work 30 years or more, mostly for the promise of a pension, and right at the time of your life when you can't do anything to replace that money, they pull the rug out?

And, they think they can accomplish this without blood shed?

 

Lev Bronstein

Sineed wrote:

It's not a matter of what they deserve, but do you think it's fair to the non-auto workers of Ontario to pay for the pensions of people who were making a wage that was higher than most Ontarians?

Although I would agree that it is fundamentally unfair that the less fortunate subsidise those who are better off, this does not mean that the only conclusion one can draw from the present circumstances is that gains won by the autoworkers (and others who have faltering private pension plans) be sacrificed through a regressive levelling.

If we can agree that nobody's retirement should depend on circumstances beyond their control (i.e. market-invested pensions) and that nobody is more deserving of a comfortable, dignified retirement than anyone else, would this not suggest that properly funded pensions are a public good? Instead of seeking to undermine past gains made by autoworkers on the grounds of 'fairness' should we not be fighting for everyone's right to a more just, public pension?

Jim Reid, VP of CAW Local 27, recently made the case (http://www.socialistproject.ca/bullet/bullet203.html) that a just resolution to the pension crisis in auto necessarily requires waging a broader fightback with the aim of establishing dignified pensions for all.

regards,
LB