Dr. Noel Roy (MUNFA President) chaired the meeting. SWGC participated by teleconference.
Roy began by explaining the purpose of the Special Information Meeting to consider the draft proposals of September 13, 1999. The set of proposals was authored by the MUNFA Proposals Committee and approved by the Executive for presentation to the membership. The purpose of the Special Information Meeting is to answer questions regarding implications of the proposals and to receive suggestions for changes. The proposals will be considered by the Executive in light of comments received by the membership and presented to the administration on October 4, 1999.
Roy explained that while traditionally membership information meetings have proceeded without votes, there will be a single exception to this at tonight's meeting. The MUNFA Executive proposes to incorporate into the MUN/MUNFA Collective Agreement a commitment to establish a new pension plan outside the MUN Pension Plan. At the Special General meeting in February 1999, members were assured that any formal proposal for change would be presented to the membership. The Executive is seeking authority to pursue the general plan that appears in the proposed Clauses 30.50 -30.52. All members including retirees are entitled to speak and vote to this issue.
Roy called upon W. E. Schrank (Member of MUNFA Proposals Committee and Chief Negotiator) to address the proposed Clauses 30.50-30.52
Dr. Schrank noted that it was not clear at the last Special General Meeting how the MUNFA Executive would proceed with pension proposals. The Executive ultimately decided that these would be best dealt with through collective bargaining negotiations.
(G99:014) MOVED (W. E. Schrank/????) that the MUNFA membership authorize the MUNFA Executive to instruct the Negotiating Committee to pursue agreement on a revised Pension Plan along the lines specified in Clauses 30.50-30.52 of the proposals of September 13, 1999.
Dr. Schrank reviewed Clauses 30.50-30.52 with the membership. He noted that there will be no guarantor for the new Plan. The present Plan is guaranteed by the provincial government. The protection of the new Plan lies in the responsibility of the Board of Trustees of the proposed Plan and in the government supervision of all pension plans. Membership of the proposed Plan would consist of all Academic Staff Members and academic administrators except the President who is presently exempted from the MUN Pension Plan. Others exempted are ASMs who are members of TIAA-CREF. The Board of Trustees of the new Plan is to consist of four members appointed by MUNFA and four members appointed by the administration. Should the new Plan be approved and set up, an actuarial study of the current Plan would be undertaken and the share allocated to MUNFA members would be moved over. Contributions to the new Plan are to be made equally by Plan members and by the University.
The Chair then opened the floor to the membership for questions.
Reference was made to Clause 30.50(k). The member expressed his concern that MUNFA would be giving up the provincial government as guarantor of the present Plan. The proposed Plan has a Board of Trustees who determine the benefit. Could the Board reduce the level of benefits? Schrank replied that while there would be no formal guarantor to the new Plan, the continued financial solvency of the Fund would maintain the level of benefits. In times of serious financial stress, government could remove the guarantee from the existing Plan simply through passage of legislation. MUNFA was led to proposing changes to the pension plan because the current Pensions Committee were unable to get any reasonable indexing, the university has declared contribution holidays which cost the Plan approximately $20 million, and the Supervisor of Pensions with the provincial government told MUNFA it was interested in getting rid of the guarantee.
A member asked the Executive if there had been discussions between MUNFA and the administration regarding these proposals. Dr. Roy replied that it was informally raised at a discussion with the current administration. MUNFA did not get the impression that the administration would be adamantly opposed to such a proposal.
It was reiterated that if the membership votes in favour of Clauses 30.50-30.52 tonight, there is no guarantee that this is what will be gained at bargaining. Should the MUNFA Negotiating Committee feel that it could not negotiate a new Plan that would be better than the current Plan, then the Negotiating Committee would withdraw the proposal from the table. During negotiations, the Negotiating Committee will keep the membership informed through Negotiating News and the Executive through Information Bulletins.
Another member asked what is the ultimate procedure for approving the proposed pension clauses and would there be one vote for the entire package. This was confirmed but it was reiterated that the membership will have an opportunity to vote against any proposals during the secret ballot for a ratification vote.
A member asked that if there are future early retirement packages, will it be possible for these to be handled through the proposed Plan. Roy replied that it would be possible, but that it would be a decision to be made by the Board of Trustees of the new Plan. The member asked that this be considered because of early retirements.
In response to a question as to whether there is anything to protect the Plan from contribution holidays by the administration, reference was made to the proposed Clauses 30.50(e) and (h) and 30.51. Any contribution holiday taken in the new Plan would be taken equally by both parties.
In response to a question regarding any implications for other members (e.g. NAPE and CUPE members) of the current Plan, Roy stated that MUNFA has been in contact with the other campus unions to keep them informed of the Executive's actions. Schrank reiterated that the Executive had concluded that a MUN-MUNFA plan is more viable rather than a Union-MUN plan. It is the only way that MUNFA would have equal authority with the Administration. The implications for other members are virtually nil.
In Favour: 94 / Opposed: 21
Roy noted that the meeting would move to consideration of the draft proposals. Non-bargaining unit members left the meeting. Roy asked that the members of the Proposals Committee sit at the head table.
Dr. Don McKay (Chair of the Proposals Committee) introduced the members of the MUNFA Proposals Committee: at SWGC Anna Leslie was initially appointed, then Lois Bateman who was replaced by Jim Duffy, Noel Roy, Elizabeth Browne, Jon Church, Austin Redlack, Bill Schrank, Dennis Sharpe and Marian Atkinson (MUNFA Executive Officer) as a non-voting member of the Committee.
Dr. McKay reported that Dr. Sharpe is drafting Article 31 (Appointment, Review, Promotion and Tenure of Academic Administrators). This article will be given to the membership after it is approved by the Executive.
Dr. McKay then provided the membership with an opportunity to ask questions on each Article. Some questions were posed to the Proposals Committee and extensive discussion followed.
Comments made by the membership will be considered by the Executive at a meeting on September 28, 1999.
The meeting adjourned at 10:00 p.m.
Dr. Noel Roy
Approved by Membership October 25, 1999.