The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Book Review:
Retirement Heist by Ellen Schultz

Apr 30, 2012

Twenty years ago, many big companies had pension plans with huge surpluses – nationally, 250 billion dollars in surpluses. So the bosses raided pension funds to pay for retiree health care. They shifted money from rank and file benefits to executive plans. Then they began to cut workers’ pensions. Some bosses started with small cuts, and when workers didn’t react strongly, the bosses moved on to make bigger cuts.

In Retirement Heist the author interviews many retirees from auto, rubber, steel, mining and other industries, and their family members, who fought to keep their benefits. Sears retiree Elaine Russell got sick and tired of using her grocery budget to buy prescriptions. Iron foundry retiree John Galloway had enough when hundreds of retirees were told to provide notarized affidavits proving they weren’t dead. Pilot Chuck Ackerman refused to have his pension taken back. Former NFL running back Victor Washington demanded treatment for his concussion and degenerative joint disease. Some of these retirees sued the companies. These stories make the conflicts personal.

The author is an award-winning Wall Street Journal reporter and watchdog. Her book shows companies do not cut retiree pensions and health benefits because they are broke or going bankrupt. They do it to increase profits. Read this 2011 book, and you’ll see that your family is not alone.