Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — “Goodyear is constantly reviewing the coverage and costs of the benefit options we offer to our associates and retirees,” Price said in a statement issued in response to questions from the Niagara Gazette. “Our review of health care options for our salaried Medicare-eligible retirees (age 65+) showed that the vast majority of them could save money by enrolling in an individual Medicare supplement plan that would best fit their individual needs.”
Briggs said retirees from the Falls plant not only need their health insurance, but need it at rates they can afford. He challenged the notion that the new offer would save retirees money, adding that as far as they are concerned the company agreed under various labor deals dating back to the 1970s to cover health insurance costs for its workers once they retired. Briggs said he believes Goodyear’s management is now going back on its word.
Briggs said many of the retirees in question are on fixed incomes and their pensions will be greatly diminished by the health insurance costs being passed along to them under Goodyear’s latest proposal. As a result, he said, many of them will be forced to seek public support in the form of food stamps and other assistance programs.
“I don’t think a good corporate citizen should do things like this,” Briggs said. “This is going to push people to need social assistance. It’s going to be more of a social burden on the community.”
Briggs said the Steelworkers union remains open to discussing options with Goodyear executives, but said it cannot accept the deal that is being offered to retirees. He said the union plans to meet with impacted retirees after Thanksgiving and he did not rule out the possibility of legal action if necessary.
“This is just fundamentally wrong for a company to do this,” Briggs said. “We’re going to do everything we can possible to assist these people to maintain a quality of life and not have to turn to public assistance in their community. We’re going to do whatever we can to prevent it.”