Hi, thanks for submitting your question today. My name is John. I have over 13 years of legal and consulting experience in this area. I’m happy to assist you with your question today.
If your plan does not have break in service rules, then you restart whenever you have a break in service. The law however, does allow plans to adopt break in service rules. The only conceivable break in service rule that the plan could be relying on (there are two others but they are not applicable to your situation) is the one year rule. This rule states that an employee with break in service, like you had, must be a participant for one year after the break to regain prior years' service.
This does not have to do with your union bargaining agreement, but rather the pension plan
and its break in service rules. Its a relatively complex issue and I wouldn't expect most HR persons to know anything about it. What I would recommend you do however, is two things 1) get a copy of the pension plan, you are entitled to that under law, 2) review it yourself or take it to a lawyer to review whatever break in service rules it has. if it doesn't have any, you have indeed lost that 4yrs9months of employer contributions. If it does have break in service rules, you should receive those contributions back in about a year.
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