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Winnipeg Police Association wins grievance over pension battle with city

Moe Sabourin, head of the Winnipeg Police Association says they are thrilled with the arbitrator's decision.
Moe Sabourin, head of the Winnipeg Police Association says they are thrilled with the arbitrator's decision. Jordan Pearn / Global News

An arbitrator has ruled in favour of the Winnipeg Police Association in their battle with the city over the police pension plan.

The police union has been awarded $40,000 in damages and each member has been awarded $400.

“I have determined that the City does not have the unilateral right to modify the terms of the pension plan,” said arbitrator Michael Werier in his decision.

The city’s proposed plan would have seen overtime cut from officers’ pensionable earnings and their contributions jump from eight per cent to 11.5 per cent.

 

READ MORE: Winnipeg police union warns of legal actions, officer retirements after pension changes

Meanwhile, the city’s contributions to the plan would have fallen from 18.5 per cent to 11.5 per cent.

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The police union says the changes to the pension plan were a “high-handed attack” on their collective bargaining agreement with the city.

“We are thrilled with this decision and happy our members and their families no longer have to worry about unilateral cuts being made to their pensions,” Winnipeg Police Association president Mo Sabourin said.

“The arbitrator’s ruling validates our position from the outset: The Winnipeg Police Service pension is a part of our collective agreement, and the city cannot make changes to it without negotiation.”

In a statement to Global News, a city spokesperson responded by saying, “While we respect his decision on the matter, we are disappointed in the decision.

“We are reviewing the reasons outlined in the award and will be considering all options available to us.”

Click to play video 'Winnipeg police officers attend city council meeting for vote on changes to police pension' Winnipeg police officers attend city council meeting for vote on changes to police pension
Winnipeg police officers attend city council meeting for vote on changes to police pension

The city has said the changes would save roughly $12 million a year, and argued the move would bring the WPS pension plan more in line with that of forces in other Canadian cities.

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They also said the money saved by removing overtime from pensionable earnings — an estimated $1.5 million a year — would be added back into the service’s annual budget.

The changes were supposed to be implemented April 1.