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Qs & As for the Memorandum of Settlement (MOS) for Court Reporters – March 3, 2014

Qs & As for the Memorandum of Settlement (MOS) for Court Reporters – March 3, 2014

We the North
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Table of Contents

Memorandum of Settlement General Questions

Q1: What does this MOS do?

A: The MOS settles a series of grievances filed regarding court reporting and transcript production.

Q2: Why did OPSEU settle the grievances?

A: There have been a number of GSB decisions issued by the Vice-Chair Abramsky and others regarding transcript production. The first and most notable arbitration decision arising from these grievances is Vice-Chair Abramsky's Hunt et al 2006 decision. In this decision, the Vice-Chair determined that transcript production is the bargaining unit work of the court reporter. The Ministry of the Attorney General (MAG) systematically chose to ignore all of the related decisions.

OPSEU filed a Superior Court action seeking enforcement of the orders and a court date of March 17, 2014 was set. This action forced the Ministry to come to the table to negotiate a settlement.

It would have been very difficult to win a contempt motion against the Crown, and even then, the Court would not have ordered compensation for affected members or any limitation on the Ministry’s right to implement its new model for the production of transcripts. Appeals would have been inevitable and likely have lasted for years, further frustrating our members’ rights.

Q3: Why didn’t court reporters get an opportunity to vote on the MOS?

A: OPSEU and MAG met with Arbitrator William Kaplan to resolve the grievances. With his assistance, the MOS was negotiated as a grievance settlement. Unlike collective agreement negotiations, there is no mechanism in place that allows for ratification of an MOS.

Q4: Can I have a copy of the MOS?

A: The MOS has been posted on the OPSEU website for your information: 
MOS Court Reporters

Application

Q5: Who is covered by the Memorandum of Settlement (MOS)?

A: The MOS applies to three groups of court reporters who did transcript work between July 16, 2003 (when the policy grievance was filed) and March 3, 2014 (the signing of the MOS):

  1. Court Reporter 1s, Court Reporter 2s and Court Services Specialists who are employed with the Ministry of the Attorney General (MAG) and authorized to produce and certify transcripts.
  2. Court Reporter 1s, Court Reporter 2s and Court Services Specialists who were employed with MAG, produced and certified transcripts as authorized by the Ministry, and are receiving an Ontario Public Service Pension.
  3. Court Reporter 1s, Court Reporter 2s and Court Services Specialists who were employed with MAG, and produced and certified transcripts as authorized by the Ministry.

Q6: Do I have to be a grievor?

No, you do not have to be a grievor to be included in the settlement. As long as you fit the criteria provided in Q5, you are eligible.

Q7: How will OPSEU and members know which individuals are included in the implementation of the MOS according to MAG?

The MOS specifies that MAG will provide OPSEU with a list of individuals who are captured under #1 and #2 in Q5. The Union will have 30 days upon receipt of the list to provide additional names which we feel should be included.

OPSEU is responsible for creating a list of individuals who are captured in #3 of Q5; the Ministry says they are unable to produce such a list. If you worked for MAG in the past and produced and certified transcripts, but no longer produce transcripts, we would ask that your send an email to: courtreporters@opseu.org with the subject line “Include me on the list.” In the body of the email, please add your name, address and phone number and dates when you produced transcripts within the period from July 16, 2003 to March 3, 2014 (the signing of the MOS).

Once that list is in the Ministry’s hands, you will be contacted by the employer for your proof of employment and transcript earnings and election of either option.

Q8: I was on parental leave (or any approved leave). Am I covered by the MOS?

A: If you fit within the criteria outlined in Q5, you are covered by the MOS. More information will be available soon.

Q9: I was on LTIP. Am I covered by the MOS?

A: If you fit within the criteria outlined in Q5, you are covered by the MOS. More information will be available soon.

Q10: I was on WSIB. Am I covered by the MOS?

A: If you fit within the criteria outlined in Q5, you are covered by the MOS. More information will be available soon.

Q11: I used to produce and certify transcripts. I'm still working in the OPS. Am I covered by this MOS?

A: You would be captured under #3 of Q5. Please send an email, as instructed in Q7, to the following email address to make sure you’re on the list: courtreporters@opseu.org

Q12: One of my colleagues has passed away. They were producing and certifying transcripts during the qualifying time. Are they covered by the MOS?

A: Yes, if your colleague fits the criteria as outlined in Q5, they are eligible. Please share the courtreporters@opseu.org address with their estate to contact OPSEU with particulars. The estate would not be eligible to purchase service in the OPTrust plan.

Options available in the MOS

Q13: What are the options available to Court Reporters as a result of this MOS?

A: Each court reporter who qualifies (fits the criteria in Q5) will have one of the following options:

  1. a Lump Sum Payment Option or
  2. a Pension Contribution Option

Please note: The pension contribution option will not be available to all qualified court reporters. Your eligibility will depend on your individual circumstances.

Q14: How do I notify the Ministry of my choice? Will there be a form?

A: The Ministry has not shared with OPSEU how or when they intend for you to do this. Members are encouraged to ask their manager for any additional information.

Lump Sum Option

Q15: What is the Lump Sum Option?

A: Qualified members are entitled to a one-time Lump Sum payment. Each member will receive $500 for each year of service, and partial years will be prorated to each full month. The $500 net (without deductions) is reimbursement for out of pocket expenses incurred in the production of transcripts.

Q16: When will I receive the Lump Sum payment, if that’s the option I select?

A: The Ministry has not shared their process or timelines with OPSEU. The Lump Sum payment will be issued by the employer. Please contact your manager for any additional information.

In general, we anticipate it will take the Ministry some time to create their list of eligible court reporters and members will then have to select their option. OPSEU will ensure that payments will be made within approximately 60 days after your selection.

Pension Contribution Option

Q17: What is the Pension Contribution Option?

A: Qualified members will have the opportunity to make pension contributions for transcription earnings for the period of July 21, 2003 to June 8, 2014. The pension contribution option may not be available to members in all of the three groups listed in Q5. Please note: the Pension Contribution Option will not be available to all qualified court reporters. Your eligibility will depend on your individual circumstances.

Q18: What earnings will be used to determine the amount of my pension contribution?

A: OPTrust is working on the process to be used to calculate your pension contributions.

Q19: If I select the Pension Contributions Option, how will that impact my best average five years of salary and my pension?

A: Details are still being worked out on how this will impact your best five years’ salary. More information will be available soon.

Q20: When will I know my pension calculations?

A: OPSEU, the employer and OPTrust are currently working out the process of how people will be notified of their options, when members can expect information, etc. An exact timeline has not yet been established. Once more information is available, it will be communicated to you.

Q21: Am I able to benefit from the Pension Contribution Option if I’m a full-time court reporter?

A: If you were a full-time court reporter from July 21, 2003 to June 8, 2014, you will not be able to benefit from the Pension Contribution Option. Because you are already full time and contributing to the pension plan at your full-time rate you will be unable to contribute any further to the pension plan. If at any time during the period in question you were not full time, then you may be able to contribute further to the pension plan.

Q22: Am I able to benefit from the pension option if I was a reporter but now retired?

A: Yes. If you are interested in the Pension Contribution Option, you may be able to increase your pension contributions and therefore may see an increase to your pension.

Q23: Am I able to choose the pension contribution option if I was a court reporter previously but no longer work in the OPS and no longer contribute to the OPTrust Pension Plan?

A: It depends. If you chose to defer your pension, i.e. left your pension with the OPTrust, you can choose the Pension Contribution Option. If after you terminated you chose to transfer your pension out of the plan (either to a Locked In RRSP, to another pension plan or received cash) you will not be able to choose the Pension Contribution Option.

Q 24: Am I able to choose the Pension Contribution Option if I was previously a court reporter, but am in another position within the OPS and transferred my pension to the Ontario Pension Board?

A: This situation is problematic but OPSEU, the employer and OPTrust are discussing this. More information will be available soon.

Q25: If I choose the Pension Contribution Option, how will I be allowed to pay for it?

A: The Pension Contribution Option is viewed as “a correction to a past mistake”, not as a pension buy back according to the OPTrust plan text. Therefore, you must make payment by lump sum either by cheque or transfer from your RRSP. Unfortunately, you will not be allowed to make payroll contributions. If you choose to pay by cheque, you will receive a tax receipt that will allow you to claim the payment on your taxes. If you choose to pay via a transfer from your RRSP you will not receive a tax receipt (as you already received tax credit when you contributed the funds to your RRSP), but you also will not have to pay taxes for this transfer as the funds are being transferred from a tax-sheltered RRSP to a tax-sheltered pension plan. This will not be considered a withdrawal from your RRSP.

Q26: If I choose the Pension Contribution Option, can I buy just part of the service?

A: No. If you choose the Pension Contribution Option you must pay for all of the service. If you cannot or choose not to pay for all of the service, you are unable to choose the Pension Contribution Option and therefore must choose the $500 per year lump sum payment option.

Q27: If I am not eligible for the Pension Contribution Option, could I still be eligible for the Lump Sum Option?

A: As long as you are eligible based on the criteria in Q5, you are eligible for the Lump Sum Option.

General

Q28: I have taken time off from my FPT hours to complete transcripts. Will that time away impact my options?

A: The Lump Sum Option or Pension Contribution Option applies only to your transcript earnings, not your FPT in-court work. So long as you were employed with MAG and producing and certifying transcripts during the July 2003 to March 2014 time frame, your time off from your FPT hours will not impact the time spent producing transcripts.

Q29: Can we grieve our work going to the Independent Service Provider (ISP)?

A: The decision to privatize the administration of transcription work was made solely by the Employer despite input from the Union recommending the contrary. The Union has reserved the right to file grievances with respect to the ISP in terms of successor rights and whether the work has been properly privatized.

Note: The Parties and OPTrust continue to work through the implementation of the MOS. Information will be provided as it becomes available.

If you have any questions, please email them to courtreporters@opseu.org.