Nokia Bargaining Update and Retiree Healthcare
This is an important information communique for all of those who have retired from Western Electric Co., Lucent Technologies, Alcatel-Lucent or Nokia Corporation. Please read this information carefully and help us to bring Installation Bargaining and Retiree Healthcare and Group Life Insurance to a successful conclusion.
First, a quick update:
The current contract between CWA Installation and Nokia expired on May 25, 2018. Installers have been working without a contract since October 27, 2018. So, what’s the problem? The problem is that the company wants to eliminate the Installation Bargaining Unit and begin subcontracting all future installation work. Anything less is not being considered by Nokia. In fact, all of Nokia’s proposals to date literally hinge on the Union agreeing to the elimination of the Installation universe.
Let’s explore exactly where we stand at this time. Many retirees have no idea of how far the Installation Bargaining Unit has eroded in the past few years. When CWA began this round of bargaining for the installation group we had 352 people on roll. Shortly thereafter, the company announced surpluses of 122 installers in 17 of the remaining 33 bases that are still populated across the country. 48 people took a special voluntary separation allowance funded from the Pension Fund which put us down to approximately 288 installers across the entire United States. Our Bargaining Unit also has 2 clerical positions and our ERC Coordinator, Andy Wambach.
Now, let’s talk about retirees. We have approximately 37,275 retirees and 16,700 dependents. That’s somewhere around 54,000 retirees and dependents across the United States. The Occupational Pension Fund is currently sitting right around 143% overfunded which is of course a good thing since it is the overfunding that pays for the majority of our healthcare and life insurance costs.
So, what’s at stake? How does Installation Bargaining affect us?
For retirees, it’s all about the National Agreement on retiree Healthcare and Group Life Insurance. The current agreement between the Company and our Union to provide retiree Healthcare and Group Life Insurance is set to expire on 12/31/2019. The projected cost of retiree healthcare for 2019 is $179 million and retirees currently pay over $51 million dollars of that amount in premiums. The Company says they will gladly extend the National Agreement on retiree Healthcare and Group Life Insurance to the end of 2022 if the Union agrees to eliminate the Installation Bargaining Unit. If the Union does not agree……….retiree Healthcare and Group Life Insurance will simply go away. Retirees won’t have it anymore. (Remember that the company share of retiree healthcare costs comes from that overfunded Pension Fund. Doesn’t cost them a dime!) On the other hand if the Union were to agree to eliminate the entire bargaining unit there is absolutely nothing to stop the company from merging the pension plan with the management plan and use the overfunding to their benefit.
Currently, bargaining between the two parties is in recess while the Union is reviewing information that Nokia was forced to supply because of unfair labor practice charges we filed. Nokia reluctantly agreed to provide the relevant information prior to May 31, 2019. Once CWA has had time to review the information, Nokia is required to meet with the Bargaining Team and CWA’s research economist so that they can perform a full cost analysis. When that process is complete, the two sides can go back to the Bargaining Table and the Union will be able to bring intelligent and informed proposals to the process.
What can we do?
It is critical that there is a partnership between those active members still currently on roll as well as our retirees. There is so much at stake for current retirees and it’s a fact that there are a whole lot more of retirees around the country than there are installers at this time. Retirees will be able to help the bargaining process with Mobilization activities that are being planned close to their homes. It might be letter writing campaigns, making phone calls or attending rallies. To be successful we need to be able to get the word out about upcoming activities to not only our active members but to retirees as well. To that end, we need to collect contact information for as many of our retirees as possible.
If you have access to the internet, simply go to www.cwa-union.org/nokiainfo and fill out the information requested there. If you do not have internet access please fill out the attached information sheet and mail it to:
Communications Workers of America
Attn: Luis Benitez
501 Third St. NW
Washington, DC. 20001.
We need your help if we are going to be successful in bargaining and protecting retiree healthcare.
One Day Longer. One Day Stronger. United We Must Stand!
Your Installation Bargaining Team
Mary Jo Reilly