Gone, but not forgotten

How retirees can impact the bargaining table
By Lorna Harris
|hrreporter.com|Last Updated: 04/09/2008

With workers generally leaving the workforce between the ages of 55 and 64, Canada has never had so many people close to retirement, according to Statistics Canada. Workers in that age bracket make up 16.9 per cent of the workforce, a number that will rise to more than 20 per cent by 2016.

This means the country will have an explosion of retirees. And, according to Doug MacPherson, national co-ordinator for the Steelworkers Organization of Active Retirees (SOAR), nearly two million of them will be from trade unions or married to someone who is, and they are used to the idea of having retirement benefits. Couple this statistic with the fact many companies and governments are trying to curtail these benefits and it’s the makings of a perfect storm.

Protecting retirees is an important goal for most trade unions — perhaps simply because of union membership demographics: Union density is greater among those in mid-life (about 40 per cent) than those in their 20s (about 15 per cent).