TRAMTelephone Retirees Association of Manitoba

AGM 2012-05-22 Minutes






Minutes of the 13th Annual General Meeting of the Telephone Retirees Association of Manitoba Inc. (TRAM) held on Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at the Heritage Victoria Community Club, 950 Sturgeon Rd. Winnipeg, MB.


  1. The meeting was called to order at 1:03 p.m. by President Ted Scoles.


  1. Singing of O’Canada was led by Tony Leonard.


  1. A Moment of Silence was observed for 90 members/beneficiaries who passed away in 2011.


  1. Report of Chief Scrutineer- Tony Leonard

106 members attending

298 proxies

The meeting was declared Legally Constituted.


  1. President Scoles identified Nick Zayac as the Rules of Order Chairperson.


  1. Minutes of April 19, 2011 – Moved by Jo-Anne Pelzer, seconded by Bonnie Higgins to approve the minutes of the April 19, 2011 Annual General Meeting.


Moved by Al Macdonald, seconded by Larry Trupp, to amend the April 19, 2011 minutes to add the words DEFEATED “by a use of a vote of proxies in contravention of section 5(b) of the TRAM bylaws. 


This amendment would reflect their challenge of the use of proxy votes to address questions raised at theAGM in question.  It was resolved  by the Rules Chair that the reference to a simple majority vote includes proxies, (Section 5(b) TRAM by- laws), therefore the motion was deemed out of order.  The original motion was carried.


  1. Financial Report – Moved by Bill Hales, seconded by Ray Yeomans that the audited Financial Report for 2011 be approved.  Carried.


Moved by Bill Hales, seconded by Al MacDonald that we transfer $15,000 from the Operating Account to the Trust account to pay for legal fees for the leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada.  Carried.


Bill Hales identified Roberta Davis and Judy Wynnobel as the auditors for 2012 and thanked them for serving as Auditors for 2010 and 2011.  He also invited members to consider serving as Auditors in the future.


  1. Constitution and Bylaw Review Report – Tony Leonard

Tony reviewed the mail out and Note 1:  This is a ballot document to be exercised by all members (even if you are attending the meeting) and returned in the self addressed envelope; and Note 2: If you don’t return your completed ballot, you will be deemed to have voted with the majority on each item. 

1949 ballots mailed out

316 ballots returned (16 spoiled and 8 unsigned)


Moved by Don Frame, seconded by Larry Trupp that the proposed changes to the TRAM Constitution and Bylaws be adjourned to a special meeting of TRAM to be held 2 weeks after the Supreme Court of Canada hands down it’s decision on whether or not it will grant leave for ourselves as Appellants to appeal the decisions of the Manitoba Court of Appeal.  Motion Defeated


The Chief Scrutineer declared the changes to the Constitutional and Bylaw changes approved.


  1. Election of Officers – Tony Leonard presented the slate of officers.  Moved by Margaret Sheridan, seconded by Doug Geddes to close nominations.  Carried.  The Slate was elected by acclamation.  Tony Leonard introduced the Executive for 2012-2013, President Susan Bilyk, 1st Vice President Larry Trach, 2nd Vice President James Burr, 3rd Vice President Dave Gnutel, Secretary Glen McCoubrey, Treasurer Bill Hales and Past President Ted Scoles.


10    a&b&c. MTS Pension Matters – Brian Meronek from D’Arcy and Deacon reviewed the events since his last report to the membership in December 2011.

·         We lost the Court of Appeal decision.

·         We have applied for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC).

·         Mr. Meronek cautioned that not every case goes to the SCC and they are not in the business of righting a wrong.

·         We must convince the SCC in writing what the case represents, it’s not about the merit of the case and it is about national importance.

·         CEP, TEAM, IBEW and TRAM have signed a retainer agreement with D’Arcy & Deacon.

·         The firm has engaged an agent in Ottawa to assist with the filing.  This is the same firm that represented PSAC in their pension surplus lawsuit that went before the SCC.

·         The firm engaged a former SCC judge to obtain insight into what the SCC looks for in the written leave to appeal.

·         The firm engaged a new Actuary from Vancouver who was not previously attached to this lawsuit.

The written submission highlighted 4 issues:

  1. We are unique in that the SCC has not dealt with an issue like ours.
  2. We demonstrated that the Manitoba Court of Appeal disregarded 13 weeks of a trial and all the evidence and facts of the case.
  3. We pointed out that the Manitoba Court of Appeal looked at our pension like every other pension plan and applied ordinary principles of pension law.
  4. We identified a controversial item; the apprehension of bias in that MTS’s lawyer was arguing the case before his former colleagues.

·         MTS has written in response to our application to the SCC, stating that the trial judge erred and that the Appeal Court ruled correctly or more specifically, that the Trial Judge messed up and the Court of Appeal had to clean up the mess.

·         D’Arcy & Deacon believe they provided all the evidence; nothing was left out or left behind.

·         Mr. Meronek cautioned us that about 10% of the applications to the SCC get heard.  If we are not successful, we will not be told why.  There was another pension plan case that was denied leave to appeal to the Supreme Court.

·          The firm believes we have a very good case if leave to appeal is granted.


Questions from the Floor:

Q: Is this money well spent?

A:  It would be foolhearty not to proceed for $100 million dollars.


Q: What information do the 9 Supreme Court judges use to make their decision?

A: The SCC judges will use the 3 volumes of material submitted by D’Arcy and Deacon, MTS’s response to the application for leave and the reply to MTS’s response.


Q:  What is the timeframe and how much longer will it take?

A:  An answer from the SCC on leave is expected in the fall.  If leave is granted, it will take at least one year.


Q:  Will the Supreme Court see the Court of Appeal decision?

A: Yes, they will see both the trial judges and the Court of Appeal decisions.


Q: Will the other unrelated case before the SCC for $200 billion dollars in pension apply to us or are we looked at individually?

A:  We were advised by our agents not to piggyback on the other case.  Our case is stronger & clearer as well as unique.  We have issues that were not dealt with in the other case.


Q:  What are the costs?

A:  $231,000 for the leave application includes $50,000 for agents, $40,000 for the Actuary and $5,000 for the Agent at the Supreme Court.


Q:  What is the status of the formula lawsuit?

A:  It is moving slowly through the courts.  MTS contested the claim saying we were suing the wrong party.  We are waiting for MTS’s Affidavit of Record and waiting for an Actuarial Report that indicates there was a problem with the Civil Service Superannuation Board calculation.  This case was brought forward by TEAM.


Mr. Meronek was thanked for providing an update and presented with a cheque for $30,000 to cover TRAM’s share of the legal costs.


10d.  Pension Report – Harry Restall referred to the newsletter sent to all plan members and outlined the information that MTS did not share.  It does not show the contribution holiday or the tax benefits MTS received through privitization.  MTS’s solvency ratio is only .8, meaning that if the plan was wound up, it could only payout 80% of the funds required.  MTS was given 5 years to make special payments to achieve a solvency ratio of 100%.  MTS and other corporations appealed the 5 year window and were granted 10 years to make up the shortfall.  They further appealed and were allowed to produce letters of credit to guarantee 100% payout.  As of December 2010, MTS has $107 million in letters of credit to backup the shortfall in the solvency test.  Mr. Restall advised that the letters of credit can be purchased up to 15% of the market value of the plan assets.


Mr. Restall provided an overview of the Indexing Account.  In the new plan, MTS guaranteed up to 2/3 of 4% of CPI.  When a member takes the commuted value option upon retirement, they also receive the indexing guarantee which could be up to 15% of the total value.  Since privatization, the Indexing Account has been reduced by $30 million.  This is a large liability that was not found in the previous plan.  The current funding by plan members and MTS is not enough to fund the adjustment we are guaranteed. 


The pension committee identified this unfunded liability to the MTS.  Their legal opinion is not to discuss or make any changes to the plan until the pension lawsuit is settled.  It is very frustrating for the pension committee.


Only 2 members of the current Defined Benefit Plan have moved to the Defined Contribution Plan.  As we retire, the membership in the Defined Benefit Plan will shrink. 


10e. Harry reviewed the nomination forms sent out by MTS to elect a retiree pension representative.  MTS wants to give an alternate position to the person who receives the 2nd highest number of votes.  In May 1999, MTS agreed that each committee member could identify their own alternate.  Harry will respond to MTS and argue that the election of an alternate is not necessary.  If we get a negative response on our objection to electing an alternate, TRAM is concerned that vote splitting will prevent a TRAM member from being elected.  If we lose this position to a non-TRAM member, MTS will hold the majority vote on the pension committee.  TRAM will be nominating Harry Restall and/or Larry Trach and will be keeping members up to date on the website.


11.Committee Reports

a. Membership - Susan Bilyk reported that we have 1,949 members on the list and 1575 are signed members of TRAM.

11b. Website – James Burr reported that was set up to have a quick and efficient way to communicate with most of its members.  The site has approximately 240 visits per month.  All legal documents and filings can be found on our website.  All Executive members can be contacted through the website.

11c. Bill Hales reported a good turnout at the December 2011 Xmas luncheon.  The plan is to continue this event in the future.  More volunteers are needed for phoning and staffing the event.


  1.  President’s Report to the TRAM AGM May 22, 2012

I would like to recognize our Past Presidents; our organizing Chairperson and 1st President Ken Beatty, next was Fred Maher, president for 2 years, followed by Tony Leonard, who was on the initial organizing committee, served 3 years as an Executive member, 6 years as President and most recently, 3 years as Immediate Past President.  I would ask that we give Tony a standing vote of thanks for all that he has contributed to TRAM.

I would like to recognize all 3 unions, TEAM, IBEW and CEP for their ongoing support to our litigation case.  They are our future members.  Although CEP left the table during a critical period, solidarity has been renewed.  We look forward to being granted leave!  And a hearing before the SCC with a decision in our favour!

TRAM will continue to liaise with our Pension Committee Rep through Executive meetings and support for mail outs, etc.

I have enjoyed being a member of the Executive for the past 9 years.  Thanks to the current Executive members for all your support during my 3 years as President.  Thank you to Jo-Anne Pelzer, our outgoing Recording Secretary.

My best wishes to the new Executive members, and particularly Susan as your new President.  Thank you.  – Ted Scoles President TRAM May 2012


  1. New Business – It was suggested that we have name tags available at the AGM next year and the Executive agreed this was a good idea.


14 New President – Susan Bilyk thanked the membership for their support and advised the next Executive meeting is June 5, 2012 at the TEAM Boardroom.


15.  Moved by Keith Copeland, seconded by Tony Leonard to adjourn at 3:20 p.m.

-------------------------------------------------------------Jo-Anne Pelzer TRAM Secretary