That’s the title of a leaflet that is being circulated in the Oshawa General Motors assembly plant.
Workers are furious at the recent revelation that a special deal was negotiated with GM in 2016 that gave 18 union representatives much bigger pensions than they were entitled to under the ordinary provisions of the contract. Six different “notwithstanding” paragraphs give these reps $380 a month more in pensions – that is $4,560 per year.
Solinet has written previously about the two-tier wages and pensions negotiated by Unifor with the auto companies in 2016:
It’s no surprise that non-union workers at Toyota and Honda are not impressed when Jerry Dias “bargains” two-tier contracts with GM, Ford and FiatChrysler that have newer workers earning $15 per hour less than people beside them doing the same jobs. They don’t get equal pay for 11 years! Their pensions and benefits are inferior. Unifor “bargained” a 6-year grow-in starting at 70% of wages in 2009. In 2012 this was made worse – an 11-year grow-in starting at 60%. Despite the companies making record profits, Unifor failed to shorten the grow-in in 2016. Of course, this outrageous exploitation of newer workers has now spread into all sectors where Unifor bargains. Why would workers be inspired to sign on to a union whose bargaining is stuck in reverse?
Reps Get the Goldmine, Retirees & Workers Get the Shaft
It only rubs salt in the wounds when workers find out that the union leadership went out of their way to arrange a sweetheart deal for some appointed and elected union reps, but made no gains for existing retirees and workers. There have been no increases in autoworker pensions since 2007 – 11 years – which means those retirees have lost 20% of the value of their pensions due to inflation. Seniority workers hired before 2012 have only had one wage increase to their base pay, and two small COLA adjustments since 2007 – so they have also lost about 13% of the purchasing power of their pay. Really, that is the same as a 13% pay cut. And the workers hired since then have been treated the worst, and won’t see equal pay for doing the same job for 11 years. Workers hired before 2012 were enticed to vote in favour of the contract with a promise of 3 December payments of $2,000 each. But former contract workers (termed Supplemental Workforce Employees) were given seniority dates of September 26, 2016, even though some of them had been working for GM since 2006. And instead of $6,000 in December payments, they get only a single payment of $1,000 in December 2019.
Now it has come to light, that despite this pitiful failure to negotiate for all the members and retirees who pay the freight with their dues, Jerry Dias and his crew made it a priority to negotiate much bigger pensions for a select group.
Negotiating Corrupt Benefits – The Details
The negotiated language is quite bizarre. To understand the contract language, you need to know a couple of things. First, anything that is underlined was added in 2016 bargaining. So we can tell that every word on this page was brand new. Second, you need to know that “Benefit Class Code D” refers to the highest negotiated pension rate, which is for skilled trades workers. Finally, the word “Notwithstanding” is used six times, meaning that the listed union reps will get a skilled trades pension when they retire, instead of the production worker’s pension that they are entitled to get (almost all of them are production workers, not trades).
The difference in the two pensions is significant. Production workers with 30 years service have a negotiated pension of $3,515 per month until age 65. The skilled trades pension is $3,895 per month. This new language gives the 18 designated reps an additional $380 a month or $4,560 per year. That is a pension increase of more than 18%. At age 65, the ’30 and out’ amount is replaced by a monthly amount times years of service. For production workers that is $68.50 a month times years of service, while for trades it is $81 a month times years of service. For a production worker with 35 years service, this special deal means an extra $12.50 a month (the difference between $68.50 and $81) times 35 years service = $437.50 a month, or $5,250 per year on top of the pension they are entitled to – year after year.
Who gets this special Union Rep’s Benefit?
Local Union Presidents and Financial Secretaries are included. So are the Local 222 Benefit Reps – but only the ones who held the position on September 19, 2016. There is a list of people that Jerry Dias or his predecessors appointed as “National Coordinators” including one of Buzz Hargrove’s daughters. Then there are the really weird ones where it is obvious that the Union wanted only one person to get the plum, but seem embarrassed to just use their name. For example:
(1.6) Notwithstanding (1) above, the employee who held the position of GM-Unifor Coordinator as appointed on Monday January 11, 2016 and who retires on or after October 1, 2016 directly from the position will be eligible for Benefit Class Code D.
How many people were appointed to this position on Monday, January 11, 2016? Only one, of course.
(1.7) Notwithstanding (1) above, an employee who held the position of President of CAW Local 222 between June 1, 2004 and February 1, 2013, and who retires on or after March 1, 2013 after commencing a leave of absence to work for Unifor National Union will be eligible for Benefit Class Code D.
The Local 222 members leaflet raises some great questions about this obviously corrupt deal. They want the questions answered at their membership meeting Wednesday, October 4, 2018. Let’s hope they can get those answers.