Why Join BPG? FAQ Sheet … November 2015
Q1: Why do we need BPG? I’m getting my pension and Bell is a successful Company …
Answer: Agreed, Bell is currently very successful, and we believe that this will continue. But companies such as Nortel and Blackberry once seemed invincible too - in a technology driven world disruptors can quickly change the future prospects for successful organizations. The reality is that there are insufficient funds in the pension plan on a solvency basis to provide all pensioners with their full pensions if Bell were to face a critical financial crisis. BPG will be there to represent pensioners in the event of this type of crisis; as importantly, by ensuring that company performance on pensions is monitored regularly and issues addressed, we can help limit potential exposure up front.
Q2. So what does BPG do for pensioners?
Answer: We monitor the state of the pension plan, and support our Pension Information Committee (PIC) representatives to ensure that they pose the right questions to the Company. We monitor Federal and Provincial pension legislation, and developing trends. We review information issued by financial regulators and various pension advisory and interested organizations which attempt to influence Government decisions and legislation. There is a growing tendency for corporations to attempt to de-risk pension plans and shift the burden of financial performance to plan members; we work to ensure that Bell pensioners are not put at further risk. We also act as a conduit for benefit issues which cannot be resolved through normal escalation processes.
Q3. How can a relatively small organization like BPG influence governments and powerful Corporations?
Answer: We have a strong and talented volunteer team that are willing to dedicate hours of time to researching legislation, lobbying government and partnering with like-minded organizations, enabling BPG to be very effective. This means that the limited financial resources from members’ dues can be put to work hiring expert legal and other consultants to provide advice. We can also call upon our members to exercise influence on politicians.
Q4: What does BPG do with membership dues?
Answer: Annual dues have remained unchanged at $20/year for over 20 years. These funds go towards research, consultants and legal expertise, as well as covering newsletters, our website, and other communications, including member meetings (our Annual General Meeting, and 2 or 3 others).
Q5: Are my dues providing post-retirement paid employment for Board members?
Answer: Absolutely not … all Board members are volunteers, who freely contribute their time and talent for the good of all pensioners. No Directors’ fees or honoraria are paid. Members benefit from a highly committed group of people, who frequently work long hours on BPG business.
Q6: You spend money on hosting member meetings, but I live far away and never attend, so what’s in it for me?
Answer: Most importantly, by simply belonging to BPG, you increase our strength and voice … protecting your pension is our primary raison d’être, and that’s really “what’s in it for you”. Currently 30% of Bell’s 30,000 retirees belong to BPG, and the more we can grow that percentage, the more influence we have. Yes, member meetings are popular with those who attend, and a great way to meet and catch up with former colleagues … but we have many members who for various reasons cannot (or choose not to) attend. And although member meetings do indeed represent a cost to the organization, most of your membership fees go towards our core monitoring and lobbying activities. Plus, we do ensure ongoing communication with all members by sending out 4 newsletters each year, and maintaining a website (which includes our President’s general meeting addresses) to keep members informed.
Q7: Why doesn’t BPG Ontario Central host more meetings across the province?
Answer: We typically hold member meetings at various GTA locations, but do attempt to get out to other locations, within volunteer and financial resource constraints, and subject to sufficient member interest. Given our resources, we effectively can only host our Annual General Meeting plus 2 or 3 additional member meetings annually. We do also try to send individual representatives out to talk at pensioner-organized events where invited; so feel free to contact us if you have an event that you’d like a Board member to attend.
Q8. Why do you keep trying to get members to recruit others? Can’t you simply contact all the Bell retirees and get them to join to help share the costs and provide strength in numbers?
Answer: Bell does not provide us with a list of all retirees and employees, citing privacy reasons, so we put BPG links wherever we can (e. in “InTouch” and on UNIFOR sites, but our most effective recruitment tool is word-of-mouth. We depend heavily on YOU - our current members - to help spread the message and to help recruit others.
Q9. Why don’t you work with organizations such as Pioneers, Telco Volunteers, COMTECH and UNIFOR to recruit members?
Answer: In fact we do work with all these organizations, and some are among our greatest supporters. They will often help promote BPG, but generally cannot provide list of names and contacts. Due to privacy concerns. Our most effective and best recruiters are our members who can approach former friends and colleagues directly.
Q10. I enjoyed my career at Bell and do not want to be part of an organization that has an adversarial position with Bell.
Answer: Bell was and is a good employer that enabled most retirees to enjoy successful careers and retirement. BPG maintains a professional and constructive relationship with Bell built on mutual respect. We do not go out of our way to be adversarial – but do push where necessary to get answers to questions about the pension plan and benefits for our members. We believe that by asking questions and understanding the state of our pension and Bell’s business we can help to protect our pensions in retirement. We want to be proactive rather than reactive; a vibrant, “going concern” BPG will prevent a repeat of the after-the-fact scrambling that took place 20 years ago when Confederation Life failed (the initial impetus for forming the BPG).