Retirees Plea to Congress: Vote on Employee Benefits Protection Act Legislation
"Like millions of other older Americans, in my lifetime of employment, deductions were taken by my employer from my wages to cover healthcare costs, including supplemental health protections that would be provided to me later in life," said James Casey III, President of ProtectSeniors.org. "That time is now. Yet shamefully, over recent years our federal government has simply allowed companies to exploit loopholes that have been to the financial detriment and even ruin of America's retirees, who put their trust in a system that is clearly broken."
The Washington, D.C. based ProtectSeniors.Org says that for years large corporations have gotten away with pilfering guaranteed earned health care benefits from retirees, every year cutting away more and more.
Retirees from coast to coast came together to call on Congress to stop handouts to large corporations who use them to pay excessive CEO bonuses while leaving retirees holding the bag. ProtectSeniors.Org mobilized retirees to contact their elected representatives through email, letters, social media and other channels to get the word out that retirees will not stand for this treatment.
Among the compelling stories retirees shared, Bob Sharib of Marrow, OH said, "I was downsized in 1994 just weeks short of full retirement; needless to say, there is no love lost between Verizon and myself. Since then, my healthcare co-pays & out of pocket expenses have gone up significantly. Verizon sold my pension to Prudential without any input from myself or other management retirees, causing us to lose any (ERISA Law) governmental protections. Please don't allow them to do the same with my family's healthcare."
These decisions to cut retirees' benefits and the rising cost of healthcare leaves older Americans in the unconscionable position of having to choose between medicine or food. Retirees urged Congress to listen to their constituents by supporting H.R. 2578, the "Employee Benefits Protection Act," legislation which simply asks that a promise made is a promise kept.
"I retired in 1999, after a merger with one company and another on the way. I waited until 1999 so that I had enough service to have benefits which my husband and I needed until we were 65 years old, and old enough for 'free Medicare,' said Pat Cogswell of Seabring, Florida. "Guess you can imagine my surprise, when all our retiree benefits were canceled in 2011. We were given other options, but they were far more costly. I am now 71 years old, using an Advantage Plan, but it sure would have been nice to keep the benefits I had earned from 27 1/2 years of dedication to a company that apparently didn't really care about its retirees."
The trend has been to spin off unprofitable segments of a company and then dump the benefits these retirees worked years to accrue without penalty.
James M. Kelly of Albany, NY said, "We have lost two benefits since retiring about 28 years ago, one is no improvements to pension and two, when I die my wife will lose any health benefits (earned from my employer). A big part of the incentive they gave me to retire was a LIE!"
Addressing the importance of ProtectSeniors.Org's outreach efforts, Joanne Seymour of South Dartmouth, MA stated, "This organization does such great work on behalf of retirees. Individually, we may have trouble making our voices heard, but when we join together, our elected officials must listen to us."
"Retirees in this country shouldn't have to struggle to survive after a lifetime of hard work and loyalty to their employer," said Paul Miller, Executive Director and Chief Lobbyist for ProtectSeniors.Org. "Seniors have sat back while Congress has sadly taken little to no action to protect them, sometimes even voting to make their situations worse, but retirees' activity this week showed that they are done being silent and will start holding their Members of Congress accountable."
"This year we have encountered two instances where they refuse to accept our insurance," said Jeanne Long of Redmond, Washington. "Also, I received a notice that our pension plan has been merged with the Verizon Wireless pension plan and had previously been merged with Verizon Management pension plan. Each 'merger' has diminished the previous plan's resources. As I approach 70 years of age and new health problems seem to loom daily, the last thing I need to worry about is the next diminishment of benefits from my employer of 38 years."
Mr. Miller concluded, "It's time to get back to a period in this country where corporate greed isn't the norm, but a strong work force and support for it is. Time to honor the memory of our champion, the late Representative Louise Slaughter by moving this bill to the floor for an up or down vote. Speaker Ryan promised a more open process. Well, here is his chance to prove it. Allow H.R. 2578, the Employee Benefit Protection Act, to come to the floor for a straight up or down vote. In advance of the upcoming Congressional Elections, its time Congress wakes up to the plight of America's retirees!"
ProtectSeniors.Org is a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit association founded in 2006 to advocate for retired Americans. ProtectSeniors.Org is dedicated to the interests of corporate retirees in the United States. The group represents 14.3 million retirees from 392 companies, 45 labor union locals, 98 municipal, state and federal retiree groups and 16 associations. To join or help with our mission, please contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 800-398-3044