Retirees Fight Back

By: Beth Shayne
By: Beth Shayne

"For more than 69 years, the UAW has revered its retirees. Something’s changed and it's wrong," explains Leroy McKnight, retired 6 years from GM's Lansing Parts plant.

He's come to depend on the coverage GM and the UAW agreed to cut. 61 percent of GM workers approved a deal to cut benefits this fall. The deepest cuts affect retirees who'll pay co-pays and premiums for the first time.

You may remember retirees, according to union rules, did not vote. And for McKnight, staying silent wasn't an option

"It really boiled down to if not me, who, if not know when."

His objection in court will be simply a letter. It may or may not influence the judge. It's, for now, just party to the process.

McKnight's attorney Mark Baumkel is now collecting letters from retirees all over the country. "I think it's in the hundreds the calls I received," he says. His goal is day in court to argue against the cuts they see as both illegal and mean spirited.

"We are prepared to take this as far as the legal process will allow," Baumkel adds.

They have less than one month to make a show of force with these objections. The final hearing on the heath care deal is March 6th in Detroit. Those letters of objection are due February 13th.

There is also an attorney who represents ALL retirees in this process. He was appointed by the court. We spoke to him by phone. He says this deal is fair, and emphasizes even after the cuts, GM's health benefits are richer than most.


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