“It’s kind of neat,” says CUPE 19026 recording secretary Peggie Olson, in reflecting on their achievement. “We didn’t realize when we were going into this that we were making history, but I’m proud we did.”
A pension plan has been a longstanding goal of the local, but members also needed a benefit plan so that became the goal of the last bargaining round. This time,virtually everyone agreed they had to push for a pension plan.
“We have members in our local who have worked at our day care for a very long time, me included,” says Peggie, the recording secretary of her local.“Without a pension plan, we would walk away with virtually nothing. Sure we have the memories of the children we cared for, but memories don’t pay the bills. We knew we needed some type of pension plan.”
CUPE’s Multi-Sector Pension Plan fit the bill. Created for small locals, the union plan has achieved significant growth in recent years. Nancy Parker, a CUPE pension specialist in Ottawa, says more and more CUPE locals are making workplace pension plans a bargaining priority.
“There is no question members need a workplace pension plan because the average benefit payments from both the Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security is only about $1,000 a month,” says Parker. “I was surprised the younger members at the [Rink Avenue Day Care] supported pension benefits as the bargaining priority,” says CUPE staff representative Stacy Durning. “But they felt it would be a drawing card to encourage their coworkers to stay.” It also is portable, so they can take their pension benefits with them, she adds. Peggie credits both their day care director and board for supporting their bargaining goal. “We have got a positive work environment here. Both the director and the board are very good.”
CUPE 19021 members in Saskatoon at the Campus Day Care Cooperative at the University of Saskatchewan were the first child care workers in Saskatchewan to join the MSPP.
To read the article in CUPE National's publication Counterpoint, click here.