Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Pension freeze tops S&P plan to create a worse workplace

On the first day of contract talks, management negotiators last week presented the Guild with a shopping list of concessionary proposals that would severely damage employees’ financial health and make S&P a worse place to work. Topping the list, which was presented on March 12, is a freeze of the pension plan. But there are lots of other demands, ranging from cuts in our pay scale to weaker employment security. Here’s the list.

FREEZE THE PENSION – Management proposed freezing the defined benefit pension plan for Guild-covered employees and combining it with its already frozen plan for non-Guild S&P employees. Under such a move, employees’ retirement benefits are generally based only on their years of service up to the point of the freeze. They would not accrue any further service credit.

As a consolation prize, management proposed increasing the current company contribution to the 401(k) plan to 6 percent from 4.5 percent. That would not even come close to replacing the money the company currently contributes to the pension plan for Guild-covered employees.

Besides the huge reduction in member retirement benefits that would result from trading the pension plan for a 1.5 percentage-point increase in company 401(k) contributions, combining the over-funded Guild pension plan with the frozen non-Guild plan, which is underfunded, would put Guild members into a weaker plan and would in effect use Guild members’ money to subsidize managers’ retirement benefits.

CUT STARTING PAY – Management negotiators proposed lowering starting salaries for Ratings Analysts to $75,000 a year from $84,000 and starting pay for Rating Specialists to $85,000 from $106,000, citing falling financial sector salaries.

They also proposed eliminating the use of experience credit to determine starting pay, which would leave it entirely at management’s discretion. Since annual “step-ups” to higher pay within job groups were eliminated in a previous contract, employees have no assurance of ever reaching the top scale in their positions. Indeed, many haven’t.

ELIMINATE VACATION CARRYOVER - Management wants to eliminate vacation carryover, with any unused vacation days being forfeited. Only a few specific exceptions would be allowed.

USE PERFORMANCE EVALUATIONS FOR DISCIPLINE AND TERMINATION – Management wants to switch from the current performance evaluation system for Guild-represented employees to one used for nonunion S&P employees. And, it wants to be able to use these evaluations as a basis for discipline and as evidence in arbitration proceedings.

DENY SEVERANCE PAY - Management proposes to deny severance to employees who “fail to meet performance standards.” Currently, severance is withheld only from employees terminated for dishonesty or willful gross neglect of duty.

NO MORE BUMPING RIGHTS - Management asked that there be no bumping rights going forward. It also wants laid-off employees to give up their recall rights as a condition for getting severance.

REDUCE REQUIRED TRAINING – For Guild-represented employees whose job functions change due to a reduction in force, management wants to cut the six-month retraining period to 30 days.

KEEP TEMPS FOR A FULL YEAR - Finally, management proposed extending the use of temporary employees to a year from six months.

The Guild negotiating committee is reviewing the results of the recently circulated member survey and is preparing proposals on job security, pay, retirement, training, telecommuting and more.

While we are still reviewing management’s proposals, we will fight to hold the line against any assaults on our working conditions and will work hard to win a fair contract with fair pay increases. Our next bargaining session is scheduled for Tuesday.

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