Retiree Leader Condemns Chrysler’s Elimination Of Life Insurance For Management Retirees

 

Congress Must Prevent Employers From Stripping Away Benefits Earned By Retirees Through Their Years Of Labor
 

WASHINGTON (April 4, 2008) – The leader of the National Retiree Legislative Network (NRLN) today condemned Chrysler’s decision to no longer extend company-sponsored group life insurance to its management retirees, effective June 1, 2008.

“Chrysler’s action is a devastating blow to retirees who had counted on their life insurance to help their surviving spouses pay final medical bills, funeral expenses and hopefully have money remaining to make life a little more comfortable,” said Bill Kadereit, NRLN president. “Congress needs to wake up and prevent former employers from stripping away the benefits that retirees earned through decades of dedicated labor.” Kadereit said that Chrysler sent its non-union retirees a “good news, bad news” letter. It announced a one-time lump sum pension payment up to $4,000 for retirees who had the longest service and had been retired 15 years or more. Then the company “sucker punched” the retirees with the news that it would eliminate the life insurance benefit.

“Chrysler executives must be trying to ease their collective conscience by stating the company has made arrangements with MetLife to provide current retirees with a one-time opportunity to purchase life insurance at special group rates,” Kadereit said “The one-time bonus pension payment won’t offset what retirees in their 60s, 70s and older will have to shell out to continue their life insurance coverage. Retirees are smart, they get this!” Kadereit said the life insurance coverage is “the absolutely last benefit remaining” for Chrysler management retirees. He said that at the beginning of 2007 the company-sponsored health care 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 health care benefits. The annual cost for family healthcare is often more than $12,000.

“Once-proud retirees are doomed by executives who have nowhere to run for easy expense reductions once retirees lives are ruined,” the NRLN president noted. “CEOs axe retiree benefits, in part, to fatten their bonuses. But, are they competent enough to compete otherwise?

“Congress must act to stem the tide of broken corporate promises. Millions of retirees on corporate-sponsored benefit plans have lost or will lose the very standard of living they worked for most of their lives. It is unconscionable to take back what was promised,“ Kadereit said. “Members of Congress, including their staffs, have shown retirees a very large blind spot. They seem ignorant of the facts and void of any sense of urgency to fix this problem. They need to wake up now, election year or not!”

 

About the NRLN

Based in Washington, D.C., the NRLN is dedicated to securing federal legislation that will guarantee the fair and equitable treatment of retirees in the private and public sector. The NRLN represents a non-partisan, grassroots coalition of retiree associations with a combined membership of some two million men and women who are seeking to protect their pension and healthcare benefits. For more information, visit the NRLN Website at www.nrln.org.

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