Multi-union campaign to prevent cuts to pensions underway. Get involved at Defending Alberta Pensions.
Edmonton (22 Nov. 2013) - The Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA/NUPGE) is joining forces on the issue of pensions with other unions in the province through a major campaign orchestrated by the Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL). The participating unions include the United Nurses of Alberta (UNA), the Canadian Union of Public Emloyees (CUPE), the Alberta Union of Public Employees (AUPE), the Civic Service Union (CSU 52), the firefighters’ union, Unifor and others.
Pension issue brings workers together to coordinate strategy
“Some of these unions are affiliated with the AFL, but some aren’t. However, we all recognize that this is such an important issue for hundreds of thousands of Albertans and their families that we need to work together to ensure our message is heard loud and clear,” says Elisabeth Ballermann, HSAA President.
“This coalition is preparing detailed briefs to be presented to the Finance Minister to prove that there is no need for the drastic and damaging changes to pensions being proposed by the government. The government admits there is no crisis, and yet has embarked on this attack that will seriously affect the incomes and retirement security of our members and others,” she says.
Unions will be presenting united position on fair pension plan to government
Meanwhile, meetings are being sought with the government to press the united position of all these unions and workers. Meetings will also be held with employers, many of whom realize that weakening the Local Authorities Pension Plan (LAPP) and Public Sector Pension Plan (PSPP) will make their work more difficult.
“Alberta’s economy is hot and that means the labour market is tight. A fair pension package that includes defined benefits and provides some security in retirement is a key tool for recruiting and retraining staff. Undermining these pensions plans is bad news for employers and staff.”
Cuts to pensions has negative impact on communities and businesses
The attack on pensions is also bad news for the economy and local businesses. “With a growing segment of our population heading into retirement as the Baby Boom ages, more businesses will be relying on them to buy products and services. Undermine the income of hundreds of thousands of Alberta families and those businesses will find themselves without customers,” says the HSAA President.
Lawyers are also exploring a legal challenge on the government’s proposals.
Sign the petition to defend Alberta pensions
Detailed analysis of the government’s proposals is under way and new material is being prepared for the coalition’s website to support union arguments. Members who haven’t already signed the petition there are encouraged to do so.
The campaign will also urge members to contact and meet their MLAs to discuss the attack on pensions.
“MLAs who support this should know that their actions will affect how we vote in the next election. We need to tell them that face to face, as well as in letters, emails and phone calls,” says Ballermann.
Telephone town halls will be held in the next few weeks when the issue and the campaign will be discussed in detail with members of all the coalition unions.
“Members will be encouraged to take action and we’ll make it easy for them to act,” says Ballermann. “Stay tuned to our website and your email for updates.”