Ontario University Staff Achieve Ground-Breaking Pension Plan

TORONTO – After a decade of efforts to find a long-term solution to concerns over their retirement security, employees at three Ontario universities have a new pension plan covering 35,000 members and managing more than $10 billion in assets.

“This is truly a ground-breaking achievement that has been years in the making,” said Marty Warren, Ontario Director of the United Steelworkers, representing more than 6,000 workers who are members of the new University Pension Plan (UPP), which officially comes into effect today.

“This milestone reflects an unprecedented level of commitment and perseverance by so many people and groups, over so many years, to protect workers’ pensions,” Warren said.

The UPP is a defined-benefit, jointly sponsored pension plan (JSPP), that covers 35,000 employees and retirees from the University of Toronto, Queen’s University and the University of Guelph, including more than 6,000 workers represented by the USW.

The UPP, which has been registered with the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario (FSRA), replaces five separate pension plans that previously existed at the three universities.

Representatives of the USW and other unions and faculty associations at the universities hold joint governance with the employers over the plan – a key aspect that was missing in the previous pension plans.

“After many years of planning, consultation and negotiations to address this issue, our members now officially have the assurance that they can rely on a secure, defined-benefit pension for themselves and for future staff,” said Kelly J. Orser, President of USW Local 2010, representing staff at Queen’s University.

“I’m proud of the commitment of so many who worked together for so long and in such a constructive fashion, to achieve this objective on behalf of our members, our retirees and our future members,” said John Tartt, President of USW Local 4120 representing staff at the University of Guelph.

“We are excited to finally reach this day,” said Colleen Burke, President of USW Local 1998 representing staff at the University of Toronto. “The jointly sponsored pension plan model provides the stable and secure pension that our members need, in an era when too many workers see their retirement security under threat.”

“Single-employer, defined-benefit pension plans have been under constant attack by governments and employers,” said Alex McKinnon, a pension and benefits expert who heads the USW’s research department.

“Our union and our representatives in the university sector realized we needed to find a way forward to ensure retirement security for our members. The multi-employer University Pension Plan achieves this goal,” said McKinnon, who was involved in the project from the early stages a decade ago.

“There are many stakeholders, representing employees and management alike, whose commitment made this happen and who deserve recognition,” said Warren. “Our USW staff and local union activists helped lead the way. Chief among them are the leaders of our USW Locals 1998, 4120 and 2010, as well as their predecessors, including former presidents of Local 4120 Liz Cherry and Wendy Morley, who helped shepherd this initiative over several years,” he said.

The UPP Board of Trustees, which includes several labour representatives, has hired top pension experts and administrators to manage the plan’s assets. Staff at other universities will be able to join the UPP in the future.


For further information:

Marty Warren, USW Ontario Director, 416-243-8792
Colleen Burke, USW Local 1998 President, 647-883-2678, colleen.burke@usw1998.ca
Kelly J. Orser, USW Local 2010 President, 613-539-8210, president@usw2010.ca
John Tartt, USW Local 4120 President, 519-760-4843, john@usw4120.ca
Alex McKinnon, USW Research Department, 416-544-5981, amckinnon@usw.ca
Shannon Devine, USW Communications, 416-894-7118 (cell), sdevine@usw.ca

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