The Employer has sent offers of Early Retirement Incentives (ERI) to
21 24 CUPE members they’ve identified, offering over 1 million dollars in incentives. These 21 24 CUPE members have 30 days to accept or decline the offer. Members who have been offered ERI have a lot to consider. If you are affected, please contact the Union to ensure you are accessing and utilizing all your rights and benefits. It is important that you have, and the Employer provides, all the information required as it involves making decisions on pensions, life insurance, benefits, etc.
**Please bring a Union representative to your meeting.**
The Union was notified about the potential for ERIs after the VCCFA sent their notice to their members about their VDI program. We are told that the reason for this offer at this time is to mitigate the deficit in next year’s budget.
The Union was not involved directly in the shaping of this offer, however the Union has ensured that the Employer has adhered to the Collective Agreement (CA); these specific criteria are as outlined in section 15.3.1, which we bargained on your behalf many years ago.
Q: Why is the Employer offering ERI? The last time they utilized this clause of the collective agreement was last century?
A: The Employer is reducing the workforce. We believe this is an attempt to avoid the Group Terminations clause in the Employment Standards Act of BC (section 64) which may increase notice period and/or severance to those employees laid off.
Q: Is the Employer only going to be offering these 21 ERIs?
A: Possibly. They will offer further ERIs until they have exhausted the 1 million targeted budget of ERIs. The Employer has told us verbally that this is the only offer they will be making under this clause of the Collective Agreement in this fiscal year, and that it will not be available next year. The Employer has already signaled more layoffs will be forthcoming.
Q: I heard the Employer is in a deficit situation. Why are they going into additional debt to offer over a million dollars to CUPE members and another 1.4 million dollars plus to Faculty members?
A: The Employer is reducing the workforce. The funding of this reduction is fuzzy to us.
Q: Are any excluded staff getting these offers?
A: The Employer advised that no excluded staff would be getting an offer of any ERIs or Voluntary Departure Incentive (VDI). Administration is not being reduced. As it happens, there are very few excluded staff that have been with the Employer for any significant period of time, or, they are older than 65 and not eligible because of their age.
Q: If I take this offer to retire will the Employer refill my position?
A: We asked the Employer this question and they were unwilling to go on the record with any definitive answers. We believe that in a majority of cases they will not be replaced. The Employer is reducing the workforce.
Q: I’m over 65 but have been with the Employer for 30+ years, why didn’t I get an ERI?
A: One of the criteria is that you have 1-5 or more years until “normal retirement”. The Municipal Pension Act defines “Normal retirement” as 65.
Q: I’m under 55 years old. Why do I not have the opportunity for these incentives like the VDI as they have offered in the past?
A: This was the Employer’s choice. If the Employer was willing to include employees under the age of 55, we would have willingly discussed that plan of action with the Employer given our existing provisions for VDIs in the collective agreement under the adjustment plan. However, the Employer has chosen to target members 55 and over with this action.
We had no consultation or input into the matter even though the Employer is reducing the workforce and is required to file an adjustment plan under your collective agreement. In consultation with CUPE National legal we have been advised that the actions of the Employer clearly fall within 9.2 Adjustment Plan. Despite this the Employer has moved ahead with no notice and no advance consultation. We will persist in pursuing your rights under the collective agreement for all of the provisions contained in the Adjustment Plan.
Q: What happens if my workload goes up unreasonably due to these workforce adjustments?
A: Your union will be actively monitoring working conditions for all members and will use the tools in the collective agreement as well as Employment Standards to ensure that members’ rights are honoured. We believe that there will be some areas in distress, so please stay in touch with your union reps if and when that affects you.
Q: Do I have to sign a non-disclosure in order to receive my ERI?
A: The Employer verbally advised at a meeting on January 26, 2016 that CUPE 4627 members accepting ERI will not have to sign a non-disclosure in order to receive their incentive.
Should you have further questions or concerns please contact a Union Executive of Steward.