In June of 2022, when IBEW 1245 and the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) were in general negotiations for a new agreement, the union learned of a recent CalPERS audit that had determined that a lump sum payment from the previous agreement was not being considered pensionable by the employer. The committee quickly did the math and determined that that some 43 recently retired 1245 members were having their pension payments wrongfully reduced, between 40 dollars a month and 400 dollars a month — for life. In addition to the lump sum issue, the clothing allowance was also found to be incorrect, resulting in additional reductions in pension payments to our former members.
The bargaining committee asked SMUD management about the pension reductions, and the employer replied that it was a CalPERS problem, due to their rules on reporting the income. Several of the bargaining committee members had also been a part of the previous round of negotiations, and had kept very detailed notes. When the committee reviewed the various documents from the last round of bargaining, they found a letter from CalPERS, giving the approval for the lump sum to be included in the pension calculation — so the committee went to the 1245 union leadership for help on the matter.
Given that the impacted individuals were no longer members of the union, 1245 was unable to resolve the matter in the usual manner. Business Manager Bob Dean and the Executive Board made the decision to hire outside counsel to represent our former members; the cost was completely borne by 1245.
After months of fighting, appeals, meetings, and delayed hearings, the union ultimately prevailed on behalf of the retirees, and we are now in the process of making them whole in all ways. They have been receiving the money that was taken from them, as well as new calculations for all future pension payments with the complete amount that they were owed.
1245 Bargaining Committee member Corey Smith shared his appreciation for what 1245 did on behalf of the retirees.
“Great job on the union’s end, paying for the lawyer and getting it done,” he said, expressing his thanks to Bob Dean for demonstrating strong leadership. “This further proves why we stay in the union — because the union has your back, even after retirement.”
–Lou Mennel, IBEW 1245 Business Rep