Hospital, unions in pension punch up

The Yukon Employees Union is grieving the Yukon Hospital Corporation’s decision to increase the pension contributions of workers.

The Yukon Employees Union is grieving the Yukon Hospital Corporation’s decision to increase the pension contributions of workers.

“In January they changed that without any consultation,” said President Laurie Butterworth. “They started collecting more money. It’s about $156 on the average year.

“It’s in the collective agreement. You can’t change something in the collective agreement without some kind of consultation. Especially something like that. That’s why we’re crying foul.”

The decision affects about 150 members of the YEU, as well as workers organized by the Public Service of Canada.

According to a letter by Wes Wirth, chair of the hospital corporation’s pension committee, the increase was the result of “several discussions” held “over the past two years.”

But that’s misleading, said Butterworth, because during these talks there was never any indication that workers’ contributions would rise.

A spokesperson with the hospital corporation did not respond to an interview request.

The extra contributions are needed to ensure the pension pot is fully funded. That means that there’s enough money to pay a pension to everyone in the unlikely event that the hospital goes bust.

Three years ago the territorial government stepped in to provide the hospital corporation with $17 million to ensure the fund was properly funded. At the same time, the union and hospital corporation agreed to how much they would both contribute, said Butterworth.

“I think the fair deal was worked out three years ago, when they raised it to a level that should have sustained it over the years,” he said.

“They probably would of got consent from us if they told us, ‘We’re short money.’ But they couldn’t tell us.

“This is sort of an illegal thing you’re doing, taking money out of my paycheque.”

Contact John Thompson at johnt@yukon-news.com.

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