Retirement benefits are a central concern for IBEW members in general negotiations with NV Energy that begin this month in Reno, Nev.Opening proposals for bargaining were due to be exchanged July 13-14. The union came to the table ready to exchange, but the company said it was unprepared, so the parties only exchanged “cover letters”. The proposals will be exchanged on July 27, when the company says it can be ready. No new proposals will be accepted after that date unless there is mutual consent to do so. Opening proposals will be posted after they have been exchanged.
It is widely expected that changes to retirement benefits will be proposed by the company. Randy Bradshaw, a Plant Operator 4 at the Tracy Power Plant located a half hour east of Reno, expressed “grave concerns”that the existing “defined benefit” retirement plan could be at risk, noting that NV Energy had switched to a “cash balance” retirement plan at its Nevada Power subsidiary in the southern part of the state.“It has the potential of having an adverse effect on your retirement amount. Some people down south lost over 50% (of what they could have had under a defined benefit plan),” said Bradshaw, 58. “People my age would just as soon not change.”
Bradshaw’s concern is widely shared.“A new plan may not be as good,” said Lynn O’rayeh, a
Customer Service Representative in the Billing Department in
Reno. “Some members could lose up to 65% of their retirement” if the new plan mirrors what was recently imposed NV Energy management.
Clerical members are also closely watching what happens to
wages, O’rayeh said. During the last general negotiations,
Clerical employees received lump-sum bonuses instead of general wage increases, in essence freezing their wages for
the past four years.