IUOE Local 150
IUOE Local 150
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MOE Benefit Funds
Apprenticeship and Skill Improvement Program
Apprenticeship and Skill Improvement Program
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My150
My150

Brothers and Sisters,

At the General Membership Meeting on July 29th, members gathered to honor the newest group of Lifetime Members and receive an update on the State of the Union, which I am proud to say is very strong. Especially coming out of a seven-week strike with a very successful outcome, there was a lot of good news to share.

Prior to the start of the meeting, we also awarded annual scholarships at the Gold Card dinner. Every year, we award 28 scholarships to members’ children and dependents at a total value of almost $300,000. This is a program that started a decade ago with a handful of recipients, and it has grown to become the most robust scholarship I have ever come across from any local union. I have to hand it to you all, because every single year, we have a group of extremely impressive applicants and winners. There is a photo of some of this year’s winners on page 20.

At the meeting, I gave members a report on the outcome of the material producers’ strike, which ended earlier in the week. We had a large group of impacted members present at the meeting, and I shared how the members’ collective solidarity paid dividends at the end of the strike. Throughout the first six weeks of the strike, it seemed like the employers had limited interest in even negotiating toward a resolution.

That all changed when the members resoundingly voted down the employers’ final offer, though. Only hours after the members voted to reject that offer, several employers stepped forward to work on a deal that gave the members between 16-24 percent increases over three years and provided the healthcare language that was the members’ top priority. Only two days after the vote to reject, the members unanimously ratified the new offer.

The strike was a big win for these members, because there were many other companies and unions that did not believe that a group of 300 workers could win against massive global companies like these. It was done with solidarity among our members and among the union members who stood with us for those seven weeks. Together, we accomplished something that very few people believed we could, and reminded the industry that workers can win when we stand united.

I also had quite a bit to report from our Health and Welfare Fund, which has been prioritizing the expansion of access to free healthcare through health centers across our jurisdiction. Ever since we opened the first Operators’ Health Center in Countryside, members from other districts have asked for similar options close to where they live. This is a win-win, of course, because by utilizing these centers, the members pay nothing for care and the fund receives substantial savings versus paying for care through traditional providers.

Health and Welfare Trustees have approved participation in the Midwest Coalition of Labor health centers, which will be located in Northbrook, Elgin, Round Lake, and Channahon, Illinois. In addition, members in Indiana will have access to five additional Activate Health Centers spread across District 6. The Benefit Fund office will share additional details on these centers as we have more details on the dates that they will be available to members.

With the addition of these centers to the existing OHC and Activate facilities that members use today, 80 percent of our members will have access to free care within a reasonable distance of their homes. One area that we are currently focused on expanding to is District 5, and I will report on our efforts to find options for members there.

One piece of news that I was happy to report came from the Retirement Enhancement Fund, the annuity with investment options from Fidelity Investments. Over the years, I have reported multiple times on our efforts lower our fee structure. When we started the fund in 2007, it was almost impossible to find a firm to take our business because we had so little money in the fund. We started off with a fee structure of almost five percent, but as we put more money into the fund, we worked to negotiate lower fees, and when Fidelity balked, we threatened to take our business elsewhere. Today, we have more than $430 million in total investments, and Fidelity is now paying us to keep this business. That’s right, there are no more administrative fees, and we are now receiving payment from Fidelity, which is going into a fund that can be used in the future for things like paying dividends, reimbursing past fees, or any number of other things, based on the balance and members’ priorities.

Another fund that we started with almost nothing back in 2007 is the Retiree Medical Savings Plan, which allows members to save tax-free for their retiree health care costs. This enhances members’ pensions by reducing or eliminating the amount of health care costs that are paid out of a pension check. We’ve been able to return a steady four percent return on these funds, and today, the RMSP has a total balance of more than $880 million. Take that in for a moment. There are unions that don’t even have a pension fund of that size, and we’ve built that over the past 15 years. The RMSP will be a critical part of the retirement strategy for younger members as the subsidy on retiree health care phases out in the decades to come.

On the Pension Fund, we reported the results of the Fiscal Year ending March 31st, which saw us at 93 percent funded after an investment return of around seven percent. First off, this is great news, because our funding percentage increased further into the green, and secondly, it showed the success of our strategy to lower the fund’s assumed rate of return. Because we have lowered the assumed rate of return as our fund has become stronger, we were able to meet our goal with a seven percent return rather than falling short.

We will continue to follow our current strategy with the Pension Fund, which includes looking for opportunities to secure and improve benefits for members, reduce the assumed interest rate of return, and seeking appropriate opportunities for bucket repayments in the future. We have always taken a measured approach with our Pension Fund, and it has worked well. Finding ways to enhance benefits, pay back prior contributions, insulate ourselves from risk and increase the funding percentage will benefit active participants, beneficiaries, and the fund itself.

Needless to say, the markets have not been friendly this summer, but we have eight months until the end of our fiscal year, when the annual snapshot of our resources is taken to determine our performance for the year. As of the end of July, our Pension Fund had $5.3 billion in assets.

Across our Pension, Health and Welfare, Retirement Enhancement, Retiree Medical Savings Plan, Apprenticeship and Vacation Savings Funds, we have a total of nearly $7.5 billion in assets. That is an incredible number, and one that I couldn’t have dreamed of even a decade ago.

Our union is a force to be reckoned with. On jobsites, at picket lines, in the halls of government, and with the sheer force of the resources we have built for ourselves, Local 150 is as strong today as we have ever been and we are set up for success in the years to come.

United We Stand, Divided We Fall.