Retirees Concerned About Loss of Employer Health Benefits Attempt To Increase Voter Turnout Among Seniors
Advocates for management and union retirees "are trying to draw more attention" to cuts and eliminations of company-sponsored health care benefits by organizing voter registration drives, writing to lawmakers, attending rallies and advertising in newspapers in a "last push before the elections to try to get more seniors to the polls," the Wall Street Journal reports.
Retirees from IBM, Boeing, Lucent Technologies and others have been "comparing and complaining about" health plan premium increases on various Web sites, according to the Journal.
According to the Journal, Lucent retirees "have been especially vocal" about their disappointment with their health benefits. For instance, the Communications Workers of America has run advertisements for the past two weeks in several U.S. large metropolitan daily newspapers that criticize Lucent for a new contract that would reduce retiree health care benefits at the same time "top executives are richly compensated," the Journal reports.
CWA and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers are negotiating with Lucent on a contract set to expire Sunday, and union officials say that Lucent has proposed increasing retiree health contributions to as much as $700 per month. Lucent spokesperson Mary Ward said Lucent has lost $24.8 billion in 2004 revenue compared to 2000, and company officials "realize this is going to be hard on retirees."
Michael Calabrese, director of the retirement security program of the New American Foundation, said, "A growing fear and even anger about broken retiree health care promises is mobilizing thousands of retirees."
Edward Coyle, executive director of the Alliance for Retired Americans, said, "Elderly Americans have to vote like their lives depend on it" (Schultz/Young, Wall Street Journal, 10/29).