OPSEU LCBO Bargaining Unit Strike

posting date Posted: July 5, 2024

 

On July 5, 2024, members of the OPSEU LCBO Bargaining Unit went on strike. Here are some important facts about strikes and your OPSEU Pension Plan if you are a member of the affected bargaining unit.

When you do not work because you are on strike or locked out, your employer does not pay you and no pension contributions are made on your behalf. This means you will not earn pension service during that period. Your pension service matters in several ways:

  • It is a key factor in calculating the amount of your pension. The more service you accrue, the higher your pension will be when you retire.
  • It is used to determine your eligibility for unreduced early retirement options, including Factor 90 and the 60/20 option.
  • It is used to determine your eligibility for post-retirement health and dental benefits.
  • If you are currently buying back pension service through payroll deduction, your payments will stop.

Once the strike ends, you will have the opportunity to purchase the service you did not earn due to the strike. The cost and payment options may be influenced by the terms of any back-to-work agreement negotiated by the parties. OPTrust will provide buyback quotes to all affected members after the strike concludes.

A strike could impact your retirement date. If you plan to retire in the next couple of months, please Contact Us.

Please refer to our Q&A for more detail:

Would a strike or lockout affect my pension service?

Yes. Members normally earn pension service for periods of contributory service. When you do not work because you are on strike or locked out, neither you nor your employer is making contributions so pension service will not be earned during the strike or lockout. However, you can buy back service when you return to work. Your membership in the pension plan continues during a strike or lockout so there is no impact on the calculation of average salary.

Why does pension service matter?

Your pension service matters in several ways:

  • It is a key factor in calculating the amount of your OPTrust pension. The more service you accrue, the higher your pension will be when you retire.
  • It is used in determining your eligibility for OPTrust’s unreduced early retirement options, such as Factor 90 and 60/20.
  • It is used in determining your eligibility for post-retirement health and dental benefits.

Can I buy back the service I miss if there is a strike?

Yes, the OPSEU Pension Plan allows members to buy back service for strike periods and lockouts after they return to work. However, the terms of a back-to-work agreement may impact the cost to the member and the payment options available.

Will I be able to finance a buyback of service?

Yes. If the buyback cost exceeds $500. However, a back-to-work agreement may impact the payment options available.

Will my employer match if I buy back service because of a strike/lockout?

Yes, under the Plan, employers match any member contributions for a period of strike or lockout.

I am planning on retiring in 2024 on an early unreduced retirement factor. I am concerned that losing service due to a possible strike/lockout will impact my retirement and I will not be able to retire on my planned date. What are my options?

If your early unreduced retirement eligibility date falls within a strike or lockout period, you would not have accrued the service needed to retire on that date with an unreduced pension.

Once a strike/lockout ends, you will be provided with an opportunity to purchase the service you have lost in order for your retirement eligibility to remain unchanged.

OPTrust will provide buyback cost quotes to all affected members after the strike concludes. We will post any updates and details on our website as they become available.

What happens if my retirement date falls on a day during the strike/lockout period?

If you have not already done so, please notify your employer of your upcoming retirement date as soon as possible, especially if a strike is imminent as you may not be able to contact your employer later. Your employer will then inform OPTrust of your retirement, and we will work directly with you to collect all the required forms and process your pension.

Please note you will not accrue pension service if there is a strike/lockout which may impact your retirement date.

What if I am on an approved leave of absence without pay and there is a strike/lockout? Would I have to buy back any strike/lockout time separately?

No, you would not have to buy back the strike period separately, if:

  • you are on an approved leave of absence without pay for illness (including WSIB), pregnancy or parental leave, or special or educational purposes, and
  • your leave begins before a strike/lockout and ends after a strike/lockout.

This is because you already have an agreement with your employer to be away from work for that period. The normal 24-month buyback application deadline and calculation rules would apply to the entire leave period. When you return to work you would apply to purchase service for the period of your leave.

However, if the date of your return to work falls within a strike/lockout period, and as a result, you did not return to work as scheduled, you would not accrue pension service from your return-to-work date until the strike/lockout ends.

I am paying for a buyback through payroll deductions. Are my payments affected if there is a strike or lockout?

Yes. If there is a strike or lockout, all buyback payments made through payroll deductions will be suspended. After a strike/lockout, payroll deductions will resume at your previous payment amount. However, to complete your buyback, you will also need to make up your missed payments. There are two options for making up missed payments:

  • make a single lump sum "catch-up" payment to OPTrust, or
  • have your remaining payments re-financed to include the missed payments.

I am on LTIP in 2024. Will an OPSEU strike affect me and my pension?

In the past, Plan members who are in receipt of Long Term Income Protection (LTIP), were not affected by a strike/lockout.