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GM, Chrysler Retirees to Regain Some Key Benefits

Dental, vision care on list, according to union.

by on Sep.23, 2011

GM and Chrysler retirees will get some of their health care cuts restored in 2012.

Though they were largely left out when General Motors and the United Auto Workers Union hammered out a new 4-year contract last week it looks like retirees at GM – as well as Chrysler – may have something to cheer about after all.

They will see a restoration of some of the medical benefits they lost as part of earlier concessions made to help the two automakers survive their 2009 bankruptcies, according to a posting made by a UAW union local on its Facebook page.

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GM and Chrysler retirees have had to pay for their own vision and dental care for the last two years but will now get at least some of that coverage restored, according to the letter from the director of care and benefit management for the so-called VEBA program established jointly by the UAW and the makers to take over retiree health care.

The additional coverage appears limited, however, the restored vision care allowing for exams every other year.


Health Care Could Be Big Sticking Point Between UAW and Big Three

“We’re focused on jobs,” contends UAW’s King.

by on Jul.07, 2011

UAW Pres. Bob King. Will the union make concessions on health care in order to win more jobs?

Steadily rising health-care costs will again become a key issue when the United Auto Workers begins contract talks with General Motors, Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler Group later this month.

Critics of the Obama administration’s 2009 bailout of General Motors and Chrysler Group have complained the union’s health-care benefits went through bankruptcy with only modest modifications – despite the union’s agreement, in 2007, to shift responsibility for retiree health care to independent trusts or Voluntary Employee Benefit Associations for each company.

Union members still pay less than 10% of their health-care bills through co-payments and deductibles. In the face of steadily rising health-care costs, so if the two sides win up with no change in the current formula it will represent the equivalent of a pay increase for union members.

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But that is something the carmakers insist they cannot accept as they struggle to hold total wage and benefits costs to around $50 an hour, roughly on par with the major transplant assembly lines operated by Toyota, Honda and Nissan.

Along with the cost-of-living increases now abandoned by the UAW, rising health care costs helped drive Detroit’s Big Three labor costs from about $47 an hour in 1999 to more than $76 by 2006 – before concessions began driving costs back down again.


Billions in UAW Liabilities off Ford Balance Sheet

Deal has $9.5 billion or more in debt, warrants for 362 million shares of stock, and sends more than $4 billion in cash to VEBA.

by on Jan.04, 2010

Good reason to smile, as liabilities decrease, stock values tend to rise.

Ford Motor Company (F) announced today that on December 31, 2009, it completed the transfer of its UAW retiree health care liabilities to the UAW Retiree Medical Benefits Trust or “VEBA Trust.”

Because of a series of complex financial transactions and a court approved settlement with the UAW, Ford has removed billions in liabilities off of its balance sheet, while apparently incurring about $7 billion in incremental debt on its balance sheet.

“This takes a significant amount of uncertainty away from those in the equity markets trying to value Ford stock, both now and in the future,” said analyst Joe Phillippi, of AutoTrends consulting. “Wall Street hates unknowns,” Phillippi concluded.

Ford stock closed today at $10.28 a share, up 28 cents or +2.8%.


The big question facing Ford’s UAW workers is whether the trust is anywhere near solvent enough at these funding levels to provide benefits as health car costs continue to rise at what the Obama Administration says are unsustainable rates.