The medical benefits of approximately 820,000 retired auto workers and their spouses in the US are in danger of being sharply reduced or eliminated outright, as the retiree health care trust fund, run by the United Auto Workers union, is short of money.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the fund—known as the Voluntary Employees’ Beneficiary Association or VEBA—will impose new cuts in medical benefits and impose higher out-of-pocket costs on retired General Motors, Chrysler and Ford workers and their spouses in the coming year.
Facing a shortfall of at least $20 billion, the UAW-VEBA web site announced plans to increase deductibles on retirees in 2012. During its first year of operation in 2010 the fund eliminated of coverage of some prescriptions and boosted co-payments.
“I’ve already gotten letters saying they are raising premiums for dental and eye coverage,” said Lyle Roussey, a worker who retired from GM’s Saginaw Metal Casting plant in Michigan two years ago. “I never had faith when the UAW took over medical benefits. We don’t know what they are doing with all the money.
“From the beginning, the VEBA was underfunded by billions of dollars. Now all we are going to see is more letters, saying ‘we’ve got to cut this, we’ve got to make you pay for more this.’”
This is not their union headquarters.