To NRLN Grassroots Advocates

 

Subject: Chrysler Strikes Again To Cut Retiree Benefits

 

Chrysler has notified its management retirees that effective June 1, 2008 it will no longer extend company-sponsored group life insurance to its management retirees. As a weak gesture, Chrysler has made arrangements with MetLife to provide current retirees with a one-time opportunity to purchase life insurance at group rates. This is little consolation to retirees in the 60s, 70s and older who will have to pay high premiums or a lump sum out of their pockets.

 

Life insurance coverage was the last remaining company-sponsored benefit that Chrysler’s non-union retirees had.  At the beginning of 2007, the company-sponsored healthcare benefit was eliminated for management retirees eligible for Medicare. In lieu of providing a medical insurance plan, retirees age 65 and older were provided with an annual “Health Care Retirement Account” in the meager annual amount of $1,750 with which to try to replace their healthcare benefits. We all know that $1,750 annually toward the purchase of Medicare supplemental healthcare coverage for a retiree and one or more dependents is just a “drop in the bucket” toward the actual costs.

 

We should view the actions taken by Chrysler as another caution to all non-represented retirees about what can happed to healthcare, prescription drugs, life insurance and any other retirement benefits. The threat of the loss of benefits is even greater since March 24, 2008 when the U.S. Supreme Court let stand the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s rule allowing employers to reduce or eliminate healthcare benefits when a person turns age 65 and becomes eligible for Medicare. Furthermore, the EEOC rule has no provisions to protect the benefits of retirees under the age of 65.

 

Chrysler’s latest action will be noticed—and likely emulated—by a number of other corporations. I am asking all NRLN Grassroots Advocates to write to their U.S. Senators and Representatives to point out Chrysler’s decision and call for legislation to protect retirement benefits.  

 

A sample letter is available for your use on the NRLN’s Capwiz website at http://capwiz.com/abtr/home/ . Look for the headline: CONGRESS MUST PROTECT RETIREMENT BENEFITS. In the Action Alert, click on “Take Action” and then type in your zip code to identify your U.S. Senators and Representative. If you should have a problem accessing the above link, please go to the NRLN website at www.nrln.org and click on the Take Action Now headline at the top of the home page or type your zip code in the Write To Congress box.

 

Please take the time to personalize the letter. If you are a Chrysler retiree, point out specifically how the company’s elimination of benefits is personally impacting you. If you are not a Chrysler retiree, but your former employer has also cut your benefits, please let your elected representatives know what you have suffered.

 

Share this email with your fellow retirees and friends and urge them to write to their elected representatives. Also, encourage them to sign up in the Grassroots Network at http://capwiz.com/abtr/mlm/signup/ and become an NRLN Individual Member by making a personal annual contribution. Details are available at www.nrln.org.

 

Bill Kadereit, President

National Retiree Legislative Network

                         

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Sample letter to U.S. Senators & Representatives

 

Subject: CONGRESS MUST PROTECT RETIREMENT BENEFITS

 

Chrysler has informed its management retirees that effective June 1, 2008 the company will no longer provide the life insurance that had been promised. Can you imagine how costly it will be for men or women in their 60s, 70s, or older to purchase life insurance at that age? Many will not be able to afford the coverage. This will be devastating for many spouses or other survivors who are left to pay medical bills and funeral expenses, let alone having some money remaining to live on in the future.

 

Chrysler’s latest act of piracy against non-union retirees comes on top of a severe reduction in healthcare benefits to Medicare-eligible retirees at the beginning of 2007. These broken corporate promises to retirees have been happening all too often for a number of years.


How can you as a member of Congress continue to silently stand by and do nothing about preventing Chrysler and other major American companies from stripping retirees of the benefits they earned through decades of labor? I hope you can tell me that I’m wrong and will identify something concrete that you have done or will do to stop employers from reducing or eliminating healthcare, prescription drug, life insurance and other benefits.  Now is the time for legislation to be enacted to protect retirement benefits!