CWAers Fight Nokia-Alcatel Pension Grab

Across our union, CWAers are fighting back against a pension grab orchestrated by Nokia as part of its takeover of Alcatel-Lucent.

CWA members and retirees have a month-long mobilization planned for February, to focus public attention on Nokia-Alcatel's illegal attack on workers' retirement security. CWAers will hold informational pickets at major Nokia sites, join letter writing campaigns, build public awareness through newspaper letters to the editor and media outreach and mobilize for other actions.

Nokia bought Alcatel-Lucent last year; the deal is expected to close the first quarter of 2016.

Last November, Nokia moved 20,000 retirees and $3 billion from the Lucent Technologies Pension Plan (LTPP) – the plan covering only retired workers and surviving spouses – into the underfunded management pension plan. This jeopardizes not only the future assets of retired workers but restricts the fund's ability to subsidize health care, life insurance and death benefits for retirees.

CWA filed a lawsuit, joined by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), to stop Nokia. Nokia's action violates the current CWA-Alcatel contract as well as a separate, standing agreement between Alcatel-Lucent, CWA and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers that says excess pension funds would be used to pay workers' post-retirement health benefits. That agreement is in effect through the end of 2019. It also violates the "exclusive benefit rule" of the ERISA law – the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 that sets minimum standards for most voluntarily established pension and health plans in private industry to provide protection for individuals in these plans.

CWA Telecommunications and Technologies Vice President Lisa Bolton pointed out that Nokia has raided the LTPP a second time, taking dollars to shore up health benefits for the 30,000 IBEW retired workers and spouses that it moved to the management plan.

"Years ago, CWA and Lucent management worked together to change the law and make it possible to use excess pension funds to help cover retiree health care costs. Now, these Wall Street bankers and managers want to use our money to meet their obligations, enrich themselves and shareholders, not to protect retirees," said Bolton.