(Burnaby) - On April 27, the B.C. General Employees' Union (BCGEU) filed a Notice of Civil Claim in B.C. Supreme Court against Vancity Credit Union over the financial institution's unilateral decision to deny BCGEU members a jointly-trusteed, defined benefit pension plan that they had agreed to establish.
"Filing a lawsuit against an employer is an extraordinary step for any union to take, and filing this claim against Vancity is not a decision the BCGEU took lightly," said Stephanie Smith, BCGEU president. "But after years of delay tactics by Vancity capped off by unilateral withdrawal from the plan we feel this is our best option to force Vancity to honour the commitments they made in bargaining. Our BCGEU members fought for this plan, they won it in bargaining, and now we're going to the mat to make sure Vancity delivers on their commitment."
The lawsuit aims to force Vancity to honour the agreement between the two parties. In that agreement, which has been in effect since 2020 after being overwhelmingly ratified by union members, Vancity committed to work with the BCGEU to develop a jointly-trusteed, defined-benefit pension plan for unionized workers.
Joint trusteeship means that the pension is administered by both employer representatives and union members. A worker voice is crucial in making sure workers' pensions are whole and secure when it's time to retire. Jointly-trusteed, defined-benefit pension plans are the gold standard, providing more secure benefits for workers compared to solely-trusteed plans. Such plans have a preferred status under the BC Pension Benefits and Standards Act and Regulations when compared to an employer solely sponsored pension plan.
Despite agreeing to co-develop the pension plan with the BCGEU, Vancity repeatedly delayed the work-cancelling or postponing meetings and missing deadlines-before abruptly announcing their intention to offer their workers a solely-trusteed pension plan.
Click here to read a summary of the Notice of Civil Claim
"Vancity literally banks on its reputation as a company with progressive values," said Smith. "Our members work every day to maintain that reputation. Vancity customers choose them based on that reputation. It's time for them to live up to their reputation. We shouldn't have to sue them to make them honour an agreement they bargained with our members."
BCGEU represents nearly 1,000 workers at Vancity. The Notice of Civil Claim – S-223482 – was filed on April 27, 2022.
BCGEU is one of the largest unions in British Columbia, with over 85,000 members in almost every community and economic sector in the province.
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