Aqua America

Corporate greed at Aqua America – one of the largest for-profit water utilities in the U.S. – has come under increasing scrutiny by the UWUA, especially concerning special retirement benefits bestowed on top executives even while management has slashed pension benefits for hourly workers.

In late 2014, Aqua laid off UWUA members in Pennsylvania after contracting their jobs to an outside company. In Fort Wayne, IN, Aqua cut back on the UWUA bargaining unit after reneging on job commitments previously made to local union leaders. And in every bargaining unit across Ohio, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Indiana, Aqua unilaterally froze UWUA members’ retirement benefits under the defined benefit plan, substituting instead a substandard 401k plan.

Incredibly, Aqua pretended to also freeze senior executives’ pension plan benefits at the end of 2014, while simultaneously reinstating those benefits under a cushy “supplemental” retirement scheme for top bosses. UWUA campaign staff uncovered this “sleight of hand” pension scheme after reviewing the fine print in Aqua’s 2015 proxy statement to investors.

The UWUA responded to Aqua’s abuse of special retirement benefits for executives with a shareholder proposal for the company’s 2015 annual meeting, urging the Board of Directors to submit any future grant of preferential executive benefits to a vote by shareholders. Aqua management strongly opposed the UWUA’s modest reform proposal, seemingly oblivious to the fact that cushy executive perks are financed at the expense of hourly workers and investors, and are not “entitlements” that must be routinely bestowed on overpaid top bosses.

Main Image: Aqua America Corp Headquarters | Image Credit: Montgomery County Planning Commission | Source: Flickr | License: CC BY-NC-SA 2.0