Do You Want a Rewarding Retirement - Join a Union

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Do You Want a Rewarding Retirement - Join a Union

Michael Enright had a couple of people on today that were knowledgeable about pensions, and the one overriding impression one was left with was, if you want to have a decent retirement join a union, because apart from a few very wealthy individuals,  it is only unionized employees that will have decent pension plans. After the recent mess such as at the Caisee, and employers looting their employee pension plans, the rest of society is probably hooped.

How can so many Canadians be so stupid as to be so against unions, when it is only unionized employees that will have the funds for a decent retirement?     

George Victor

Why not push for public pension scheme enhancements, NR?

All in, you know? One for all and all for one?

Public pensons invested in  public services, energy.

And not just for those who have the opportunity and ability to work, as in CPP.


We need some new ideas around social benefits so everyone benefits.

Pension plans should all be portable and as well only government run - no private pension plans should be allowed. In other words your employer remits monthly on your behalf a pension plan remittance to the government, who invests conservatively.

And never again should any pension plan ever be invested in the gambling charade, er stock market. There are just too many crooks out there.

George Victor

Yep, all public...provincial and federal.


Hidden Pension Fiasco May Foment Another $1 Trillion Bailout


-- The Chicago Transit Authority retirement plan had a $1.5 billion hole in its stash of assets in 2007. At the height of a four-year bull market, it didn’t have enough cash on hand to pay its retirees through 2013, meaning it was underfunded to the tune of 62 percent.

The CTA, which

George Victor

Looking like golden age years where food, shelter and clothing are looked after may have to depend on the state all the way.

Interesting to see how the great unread are reading the tea leaves after years of "middle class" independent lifestyles. Just think how close Dubya came to making  all security dependent on investments by individuals in the market.

Also interesting that "the left" in the legislatures will not suggest radical alternatives to market dependence yet.  And three of the Ontario New Democrat leadership candidates shied from the question a couple of weeks back. We do all seem to be market oriented yet,  NR.

Or perhaps you have heard of someone or some political institution breaking the mould? do you think we might break free?  After all , bonds used to be okay.  GICs have been rediscovered.  Anything paying dividends that isn't about to go belly up.


Actually it's the upper management and CEOs of the major companies and banks, in other words those who are responsible for this whole mess, who will have the best retirement plans. 


The social democracies of northern Europe have already broken the mould.  We are so slow to learn from example. 


I don't know if you want to call people who don't understand the big picture stupid its more ignorance as there is no one else sticking up for the regular guy/gal.  I was thinking how important Unions are to the working person and what they have accomplished over time as its the working mans insurance.  Where government appears to be helping out the Rich Man with the working Man's money because Coporations work it so they pay very little in their share of the taxes as Coporate Welfare becomes the norm.  No thats left to the working stiff by the way who is rapidlly becoming poorer  and poorer as the rich take a bigger bite out of the world's wealth leaving the majority poorer than before.  I to was ignorant of what Unions actually stood for and how ingrained they are in our social framework and even though I question what police unions and government unions fail short in providing any real assitance for their workers as often feel they were sold out the worker but then I don't know what went on in the talks so can't say for sure what went down but it wasn't good for sure.  However there is good and bad in all and so far the good in Unions out ways the bad by a live long mile.  I guess it could also be said about governments as  when we can't live with one party we can always pick another.  Pickings are slim though.


And then of course we have the greedy corporate leaders like this who don't want to share their wealth or any blame for the economic pickle we are in. I guess the truth is too much too bear. I notice Bloomberg has now removed this article from their front page where it was a bit earlier. I wonder if they were getting too much flack for it. Laughing

Dimon Says System Can Be Saved If ‘Vilification’ Ends

March 11 (Bloomberg) -- Jamie Dimon, chief executive officer of JPMorgan Chase & Co., said the U.S. can rescue its banking system by the end of the year if officials start cooperating and stop the “vilification” of corporate America.

“If we act like a dysfunctional family and we don’t finish these things and we’re forever debating them, I think this will go on for several years,” Dimon, 52, said at a conference hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington. “It’s completely up to us at this point.”

Congress called Dimon and seven other bank CEOs to Washington last month to face criticism for outsized pay packages and executive perks at a time when losses were rising and the U.S. was pumping billions of dollars into their companies. Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd led an effort to put new restrictions on banks that receive government support.

“When I hear the constant vilification of corporate America, I personally don’t understand it,” Dimon said in his speech. “I would ask a lot of our folks in government to stop doing it because I think it’s hurting our country.”



George Victor


"And never again should any pension plan ever be invested in the gambling charade, er stock market. There are just too many crooks out there."


That must be the outcome.

The getting there, NR, is the great question. 



Righties say communism has never worked look at russia and cuba. They aren't communist one was totalitarianism the other socialism that is under seige. But we got plenty of examples of how capitalism fails. This on a regular basis in fact. I know some people from the eastern block countries, they didn't like the old system, but said they did get a good education and everyone had a job....god sounds like hell, esp compared to 22% unemployed people in detroit, the majority of which have a gun or easy access to one.

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

Across the United States, state and local government-sponsored pension plans are in trouble. They are dangerously underfunded to the extent that their assets are unable to meet future liabilities without either outsize investment returns or huge cash infusions.

- [url=]a recent Harvard study of state and municipal finances in the U.S.[/url]


Well if you pay out more than you take in........duh!


Obviously they have to be fully-funded, and you as a member have to keep an eye on the investment returns, and if there is a problem speak up - don't be a wimp as it is your retirement that's at stake. 

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

So the primary responsibility for ensuring your pension is fully funded rests with you, the beneficiary. The employers, the legislators, and the financial regulation authorities can all wash their hands of responsibility and blame you for being a "wimp" for not policing your own pension plan, once your retirement funds disappear.

At least, that's the neoliberal position. Others may disagree.


Many pension plans have assumed rates of return (~8% or so) that will likely not come to pass. This means that either contribution rates will have to go up, or benefits will have to come down, or meet-in-the-middle.


This one was easy to find (I know it's American and it's only New Jersey but it's definitely worth reading in full).

You might be seeing numbers tossed at you regarding deficits in the state pension of $40 billion and a funded ratio of 67%.  They're way off.  Based on actuarial reports for the three largest plans I put the real deficit now at $162 billion and the real current funded ratio at 30%. Let's take this in stages as we replace official figures with real-world ones for the three largest plans.


Okay, I will do, right after i finished finding a job.


well i did have a job, but the company was downsizing and the unions resisted any downsizing and lay offs, they encouraged the management to get rid of temp workers like me to go yeah i lost my job!! thank you , unionized workers! They are looking out for everyone's interest!


Now being unemployed, i am a free agent, and i can finally free myself from exploitation by the temp agencies, all i need now is to find a job and than join a union!


On the CBC noon phone-in program in Saskatchewan  they were discussing the proposed legislation to allow opting out of dues. One of the people who phoned in - a non-union worker - said the situation was simple: If you don't want to pay dues, don't apply to work at a union shop. 

He added that there has never been a situation where benefits and improvement have flowed from non-union workplaces to union workplaces. It has always been the case that trade unions gained the new ground that benefitted everyone.


Sean in Ottawa

First let's address the fictional concept that unionized workers have pensions. Many do. Also many do not. And a pension is not a clear cut thing either. If the pension comes from the daily pay of workers it might be nice to have but people need to live today as well. An employer offering a pension is not so great if the workers have to fund all of it form their own salaries if those salaries are not big enough for people to have a living now.


Take it slowly-- I get that you are suffering but would you really propose that more work be temporary than full time? Right now you aspire to find a good job and if you do that would change your life. Unions would like that to happen for you. But to move more people to unstable employment is not the answer even if in the moment it hurts those with the unstable employment. If an employer can lay off those who have been there for decades and keep temp workers they would. It is cheaper. But then your current situation would become permanent: you would never see job security in your life-- you could never dream, aspire to and eventually reach that. How is that better? How is that better for you? You personally. How do you gain? Now you have a temporary insecure job but could one day have a secure one. Instead you seem to suggest we should all have insecure jobs because you at this point have an insecure job. Employers would love that and you would face a system that represents everything that was wrong with the job you had.

Now Take it slowly consider this on top of it: those full time permanent people bargain the rates of pay of temp workers collectively. If they were made to go to keep you, then you would see the temp wages stagnate and fall. The reason your job likely paid better than minimum wage is not because temp workers bargained it but full time tenured union workers bargained it. And sure they did not want people doing their work for so little. But that helps you as well.

So to you take it slowly-- I say be careful what you ask for. The Conservatives want to give it to you. It is possible that you could get more security in such jobs than you have now. The catch is everyone would likely get minimum wage, no benefits, no good working conditions and likely no on-the-job safety. That is the brave new world of when unions are taken out of the picture and temporary workers are given their place. Of course if that happened and you were there a while, perhaps you would want to organize, form a union and insist that those who had been there a long time, had families, would also have their jobs protected before temp workers.

Perhaps you should aim your anger at those who cut union jobs instead of those who protect them since I suspect you would rather have a union job than a temp job. Am I right?

Still no matter what I recognize your need and your pain. But I have sat with big union mucky-mucks and I have to tell you that they do get it. Unions spend a lot of time worrying about non-union people. They want you to have what unionized people have instead of giving up what they have so nobody has it. Unions have fought for public medicare rather than just union health benefits; public pensions for all rather than just union pensions and they fight for better minimum wages and better public worker safety legislation. Sadly so many non-union workers do not realize that the unions actually are on your side and are fighting for you. You don't know this because the employers and government want to spread the propaganda that they are not. They want you to remain powerless, willing to take minimum wage and not complain and keep you angry with the unionized workers rather than come together with them to improve the lot of all workers. I think all workers shoudl have a right to a union job. I hope you get one and appreciate it. And of course, most of all in these desperate times, I hope you find work that pays for what you need. I know that comes first for you right now as it needs to.


Truly awesome post Sean!  The anti-union propaganda is dangerous to all of us, both individually and as a society.  Those who spew the union bashing misinformation are trying to encourage a race for the bottom, in which the majority of people are poorer, have fewer rights and protections, less security, etc.  The problems are created by greedy CEOs, speculators, investors, etc. NOT by unions, but since the former have the media under control, people are all too often misled.

Sean in Ottawa

Thanks Kara!

I think some of those who pass on the misinformation are truly traumatized people who misunderstand what is going on. I would not ascribe intention to all those who advocate anti-union views. This is why explaining is so important. There is no benefit in questioning the motives of those who do not agree with us. I am sure when you speak about those who spew, you are talking about the people who know better...

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

The CP union negotiators are having a press conference on CBC right now - they say the company wants to take away from their pensions and give it to the shareholders, ironically the biggest of which are the Ontario Teachers Federation and the Canada Pension Plan.


Sean in Ottawa wrote:

Thanks Kara!

I think some of those who pass on the misinformation are truly traumatized people who misunderstand what is going on. I would not ascribe intention to all those who advocate anti-union views. This is why explaining is so important. There is no benefit in questioning the motives of those who do not agree with us. I am sure when you speak about those who spew, you are talking about the people who know better...

Oops!  I should have been more clear.  Now that I re-read my message, I realize that it could be misinterpreted and I apologize if I offended anyone.  I was most definitely referring to the greedy corporate types as the ones who spew misinformation (knowingly!) via their friends in the media.  I was definitely not referring to people caught up in difficult circumstances, who may understandably be looking for reasons for the situation in which they are caught.

Sean in Ottawa

Thanks again Kara-- that is how I interpreted your remarks and thanks for confirming it. It seemed clear you were talking about the right wing politicians, corporatists and their toadies not the people who are looking for answers and being misled at almost every turn.

Speaking of the misled -- it is interesting how there is no correlation between education, income and social standing in this either. Some people who are otherwise well informed fall for the propaganda and others with no formal education and low social standing by most accounts understand things perfectly. Sad that many of those who understand the situation best have no power in society to change it.