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As a retiree of Wah Chang, I attended a contract explanation meeting.

Having stood picket duty through the lockout of 2001-02, I was discouraged. One of the main things we fought for was health care for retirees. This contract proposal puts that at risk. Even more disturbing is the continuation of a trend which concentrates even more money in the nonproducers at the top, at the expense of the producers at the bottom.

This contract provides virtually no medical security in retirement for new hires. And no pension benefits. Instead they want to bank on 401K savings.

There are numerous problems with replacing company provided benefits with a 401K. Group benefits have the advantage of smoothing out the swings of the market. Individual 401ks follow the market. If you retire when the market is down, you could be hurting. Employer provided benefits are 100 percent deductible to the company as a cost of doing business. Meaning, the net cost is about half the cost of employee paid benefits. 401Ks are tax deferred, meaning, when you are reduced to eating dog food in retirement, due to a lack of pension and no medical security, the taxes on your 401K will come due.

From what I'm told, at no time has the company pleaded poverty. It is just greedy.

Frank W. Lathen

Lebanon (Feb. 17)

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