Navistar pension ruling expanding workers' rights welcomed


TORONTO, July 14, 2014 /CNW/ - A ruling by the Ontario Financial Services Tribunal on a long-standing pension dispute at Navistar not only upholds a previous decision on the workers' pension rights, but expands them, Canada's largest union in the private sector says.

"This decision shows that companies cannot just arbitrarily take away people's hard-earned pensions," Unifor National President Jerry Dias said.

"We not only won the appeal, but expanded the original superintendent of pension's ruling. This is a solid victory for the workers at Navistar, who have been through a long and hard fight to defend their rights."

In a ruling released late last week, the Ontario Financial Services Tribunal upheld an earlier ruling by the deputy superintendent of pensions that workers who left a Navistar truck plant in Chatham, Ont., between 2009 and the plant's closure in 2011 were eligible for a special early retirement on an actuarially unreduced basis.

Navistar had appealed that decision, saying the superintendent did not have jurisdiction, and that the law didn't provide for these special benefits. On Oct. 10, The Financial Services Tribunal confirmed that the superintendent had the authority to make his original ruling.

Friday's ruling went further, expanding the number of workers eligible for an unreduced early retirement, and those eligible for a supplementary .9 of a year's service to count toward their pensions.

Dias complimented the hard work of the bargaining committee and Unifor staff in making this victory possible.

The decision means an estimated $28 million for retirees from the plant, which once employed about 1,000 workers and office staff in Unifor Local 127 and 35. Production at the plant stopped in June 2009, with the company announcing the plant's permanent disclosure in July 2011, leading to a partial windup of the pension plan.

To see the complete ruling, go to:

Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector, representing more than 305,000 workers, including more than 96,000 in manufacturing. It was formed Labour Day weekend 2013 when the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers union merged.