The Canadian Media Guild is in bargaining for a new contract and over how members will be treated in a restructured Canadian Press. Contrary to some reports, The Canadian Press has not yet been sold. That cannot happen without your agreement, which is why we are at the bargaining table now.
One of the things we have been asked to do is close our pension plans to new members. The Guild, working with management of The Canadian Press, has spent years restructuring our pension plans to make them sustainable on a go-forward basis. We cannot undo the past but we have done what was needed for the future.
A lot of confusing information is out there about our pension plans. It is important for you to understand the facts:
1. There are two pension plans. One for Guild members and one for managers.
2. They both have deficits. The Guild’s is just over $22 million. The excluded plan’s is just over $11 million. We have about 200 active members. They have about 50.
3. The deficits have grown largely because of benefits earned prior to 2008 and the now low interest rates used to calculate what it would cost to wind up a plan. If those rates were to double (not likely, we know) our deficit would be eliminated.
4. We changed the pension plans in 2008 to make them more sustainable and reduce the risk of adding to the deficits. We gave up early retirement benefits on a go-forward basis. We added an employee-funded, defined-contribution component called the flex plan so individuals could buy add-ons like early retirement.
5. Since 2007, the new plans have actually earned a surplus. The Guild plan was able to earn almost $60,000, which is set aside to provide for earnings upgrades (this is how the new plan works). Those upgrades were to be made every three years but cannot be made now because the deficits are too large.
6. Closing the plans to new members – as proposed by our would-be owners — would have no impact on the deficits. New employees are automatically only in the post-2007 plan and do not earn all the benefits that led to the solvency deficits in the first place.
7. It is important to note that newspapers like the Globe and Toronto Star did not restructure their pension plans. They closed them to new members but left the old plans in place, with more costly (and generous) benefits for all existing members.
We took the more prudent course of restructuring to preserve a sustainable plan for all employees and gave up some of those benefits.
Your bargaining team:
Terry Pedwell, Canadian Press Branch President
Scott Edmonds and Craig Wong, Pension Trustees
Kathy Viner, CMG Staff Representative