USask is committed to providing all employees fair and reasonable employment terms and conditions, as demonstrated by our most recent offer to members of CUPE 1975 that features a large signing bonus, multi-year salary increases between 2 and 4 per cent annually (up to 14% total increase over 5 years), and paid days off between Christmas and New Years. It is our hope that members will be given an opportunity to vote on this offer.
CUPE 1975's current pension plan is the last open defined benefit pension plan on campus, and one of only a few remaining in Saskatchewan for provincial and municipal employees. All other employee groups on campus moved away from defined benefit pension plans twenty years ago. As a percentage of salary, the current CUPE 1975 pension plan requires the highest combined contribution rates by both members and the university in comparison to all other university pension plans.
Since 2008, the CUPE 1975 pension has required more than $30 million in additional funding from the university. The latest valuation of the current pension's performance for 2018 indicates an increasingly negative financial position, further adding to the costs borne by the university, and diverted away from the university's core teaching and research mission. The university can no longer continue to cover the additional costs and financial risks of this defined benefit pension plan, which is neither affordable nor financially sustainable.
Over the past decade, including this latest round of bargaining, the university has worked with CUPE 1975 to address the financial issues of the current pension plan, offering more than ten proposed solutions. With no agreement reached, it is clear that both parties have reached an impasse on pensions.
Due to the pension impasse, the university will no longer be including pensions proposals in any future negotiations with CUPE 1975. While the university has the right to amend the pension plan without CUPE’s approval, the University engaged in a good faith effort at the bargaining table to find a workable solution for both parties. The university will proceed with pension reform at an appropriate time, under its long-existing right to do so (as confirmed by an arbitrator in 2017). It is anticipated that this reform will align the pension plan with all the other open university employee pension plans going forward, while respecting the existing entitlements of employees under the pension plan.
No one’s pension is being taken away and all pension contributions made under the current plan will remain in place for our employees' retirements. When pension changes are made, the changes would only apply to contributions moving forward. The university is committed to ensuring that all of its employees receive a fair and reasonable pension that is competitive, financially sustainable, and guarantees cost certainty for the university.