Navistar workers could receive an estimated $28 million in benefits as the result of a ruling by the Ontario Financial Services Tribunal.
The tribunal upheld an earlier ruling by the deputy superintendent of pensions that workers who left a Navistar truck plant in Chatham, Ont., between 2009 and the plant’s closure in 2011 were eligible for a special early retirement on an “actuarially unreduced” basis.
The company had appealed the decision, claiming the superintendent didn’t have jurisdiction to make the ruling.
Unifor National President Jerry Dias said the tribunal ruling actually expanded the scope of the earlier decision, increasing the number of workers eligible for an unreduced early retirement, and those eligible for a supplementary 0.9 of a year’s service to count toward their pensions.
“We not only won the appeal, but expanded the original superintendent of pension’s ruling.” Dias said in a press release. “This is a solid victory for the workers at Navistar, who have been through a long and hard fight to defend their rights. This decision shows that companies cannot just arbitrarily take away people’s hard-earned pensions.”
Navistar once employed about 1,000 workers and office staff in in Chatham. Production at the plant stopped in June 2009, with the company announcing the plant’s permanent disclosure in July 2011, leading to a partial windup of the pension plan.
Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing more than 305,000 workers, including more than 96,000 in manufacturing. It was formed Labour Day weekend 2013 when the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers union merged.