Bargaining Update #1: PBC Demands Major Concessions for Retiree and Regular Benefits

BURNABY — Bargaining talks with Pacific Blue Cross have broken down due to the employer’s demand to completely eliminate its contribution to benefits for retirees. The employer’s proposal also calls for a number of significant concessions in the Extended Health and Dental plans for active employees while offering no general wage increases in the first two years of a five-year agreement.

The CUPE 1816 Negotiating Committee met with PBC only three times before the employer filed abruptly for mediation.

“The employer’s five-year proposal, which includes two years of zeroes on wages, also seeks to punish retirees by taking away benefits that are already accounted for in the employer’s financial statements and are completely affordable,” says CUPE 1816 President Beth Miller.

“We have been clear with the employer at mediation that we have no interest in any changes to the retiree benefits plan. We agreed to concessions in that area in 2007 and the employer has come back looking for more before a single person has even retired under that revised plan.”

Since retaining its own actuary, CUPE 1816 has determined that the retiree benefits plan is accounted for in the overall financial health of the organization. PBC’s retained earnings at the end of last year were $183.5 million. All costs that have accrued for active and retired employees, including managers, are fully account for in PBC’s 2015 financial statements.

PBC’s proposal on retiree benefits calls for the plan to go from 75-per-cent employer funded to 100- per-cent retiree funded. The initial proposal received on September 21 included eliminating the employer contributions for those who have already retired. Not only does the Union believe this to be utterly unfair; it is also illegal since those benefits vested at the time of retirement.

“The only change in the employer’s position on retiree benefits after three bargaining session and two days of mediation is their agreement not to break the law by taking away vested benefits from current retirees,” says Miller. “Otherwise, the last proposal we saw in mediation on November 17 looked almost identical to the one we saw on September 21.”

No future bargaining dates have been scheduled.

Your CUPE 1816 Negotiating Committee:

  • Beth Miller
  • Roger Pearce
  • Anna Torgerson
  • Tracey Harston
  • Christine Johnson
  • James Richardson — CUPE National Representative