Eight employees at Erie Water Works say AFSCME Local 2206 leaders concealed retirement options during contract negotiations.

According to The Fairness Center, Erie Water Works originally offered employees a contract with two distinct options.

Option One was a 401(k) style plan in which management would match contributions. 

Option Two was more like a traditional pension. 

But, an attorney representing the union members says when AFSCME presented the contract offer, only option two was brought up for their approval.

“The union officials had an interest in keeping that pension plan despite what the employees really wanted, so they hid that first option so the employees would never know about it. Employees ended up ratifying that second option because they thought it was their only choice,” said David Osborne, an attorney with The Fairness Center. 

The plaintiff is now arguing the union violated the duty of fair representation. 

A 16-year Erie Water Works employee said in a written statement, “It turns out our union leaders are willing to knowingly conceal information from us if it suits their purpose. We deserve fair and honest representation.”

This situation is opening up a larger conversation about the importance being aware of all your options.

“We have a lot of local employers in Erie that offer all sorts of different options but people don’t know. One of the things we always find is people don’t know the company matches on their 401k and 403b’s and that’s basically free money people are leaving on the table,” said Roland Kljunich, the president and CEO of Roland Financial.

We did contact the union Wednesday for comment, but those calls were not returned.