MEMO – Take Action to Defend OMERS Pension Benefits

To: CUPE Local Presidents & Secretary Treasurers with Members in the OMERS Pension Plan

From: Fred Hahn – President, CUPE Ontario

RE: URGENT “Take Action” to Defend OMERS Pension Benefits

Date: May 2, 2018
I’m writing to update you on discussions on OMERS Pension Plan changes and their “Comprehensive Plan Review”. The CUPE Ontario OMERS Reference Group has been working with plan members to defend OMERS pension benefits through this process. Today I’m writing to each Local with members in the OMERS Defined Benefit Pension Plan to ask you and your members to take several specific actions to support the campaign to preserve our members’ hard-earned pension benefits in OMERS.

Background and Update

This is the second year in a row where there has been a big push by some at OMERS to modify plan benefits. As detailed at our recent sector conferences, CUPE Ontario and allies were able to push back last year’s plan, known as Modified Inflation Indexing (MI2) that would have seen the guarantee of 100% indexing taken out of the OMERS plan text.

Now OMERS is going through a “Comprehensive Plan Review” which is examining all plan benefits. While we still believe that guaranteed indexing remains the focus of those intent on modifying plan benefits, in a recent meeting with OMERS plan Sponsors, it became clear that all plan benefits, like survivor benefits, early retirement and even the base pension calculation, are being examined.

This is happening even though OMERS has recorded successive years of excellent investment returns and is well ahead of schedule with its plan to return to full funding after the 2008 financial crisis.

This is also happening fast, with those at OMERS who are leading this process planning to complete it in a few short months, with an eye to vote on plan changes by the end of June.

CUPE Ontario’s Response

CUPE Ontario and our representatives at OMERS have made it clear that our union doesn’t support any modifications at OMERS that will reduce pension benefits like the guarantee of 100% indexing.

CUPE Ontario has been clear that there is no need to veer off the current plan that is working to return OMERS to fully funded status. Our members have joined us in sending this message, with more than 6,000 sending emails to OMERS through our “Take Action” webpage.

CUPE Ontario members attending the recent OMERS Spring Information Session made it clear they want to see pension benefits, like indexing, fully maintained. Members, in particular young workers, took to mics to demand OMERS pension benefits be preserved now and for our future members.
We have also been clear that a Comprehensive Plan Review needs to be member-focussed. All pension plans face future challenges, but in considering how to deal with them, the impact on plan members’ retirement income must be the primary focus.

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