This is usually the first question asked by a prospective member when they are approached to join The City of Winnipeg Retirees’ Association (CWRA). The obvious benefits (if you take advantage of them) are the various seminars, tours and Annual General Meeting. They provide an opportunity to visit and enjoy a light lunch while experiencing the information from the varied topics presented. Topics covered include health, safety, travel, etc., that are pertinent for seniors. If you prefer the outdoors, you can join us and bring your family (grandchildren) and a lawn chair to the spring and fall “hot dog days” at Whittier Park. We also offer a newsletter that covers a diverse number of issues for our membership. Articles of interest are welcome, and the newsletter can be used to promote causes of interest to the membership. Some retirees are under the impression that their union has their best interests at heart. However, we believe that retirees are best equipped to speak for retirees. Unions can be placed in difficult situations attempting to represent retirees and active members at the same time. Since 1995 two situations have occurred. The first occurred at the time the City and unions negotiated the use of a substantial surplus which ended up changing the pension plan from being a benefit that was secured by the City to a joint trustee plan that shared benefits and risk. Retirees, despite being the largest component of the plan, were excluded from the decision making process. A Court of Queen’s Bench ordered review of the new plan noted as follows in their decision: “Retirees…….have a separate and distinct position which deserves a voice and requires protection.” The decision authored by Justice J. Jewers and released on June 6, 2002, ordered that a trustee should represent retirees on the Board of Trustees. The retiree representative is part of the Union/Association group of six representing employees on the Board and must be acceptable to the other five trustees. Since the formation of the new pension plan the three successful retired trustees have been nominated by the CWRA. Currently Bryan Verity is serving on the Board. The second situation involved Unions and the City removing retirees from the original Blue Cross plan and forming a new plan for retirees. Until this happened retirees and City employees received the same benefits from Blue Cross. This decision came about as the Unions and the City were facing difficult financial decisions brought about among other things - increases to the CPP. When faced with choices between retirees and dues paying members, the Union has an obligation under labour law to look after their members. WHEN FACED WITH ISSUES AFFECTING RETIREES, A STRONG CWRA IS THE BEST OPTION FOR A RETIREE!