October 1, 2009

'Bait & Switch? Retirees sue news company for unexpected health care changes

Bait and switch - that's what some former newspaper employees who retired early claim is happening in Ohio. They say they exchanged a lifetime job guarantee for lifetime health care benefits that now are disappearing dollar by co-pay.

Some Akron (Ohio) Beacon Journal retirees and their union filed a federal class action suit in U.S. District Court in Cleveland saying they gave up lifetime job security in contract negotiations in exchange for an early retirement incentive program that guaranteed lifetime supplemental health care benefits, including "prescription-drug benefits requiring only minimal co-payments." Instead, their health care costs are increasing.

One person said the suit was necessary as her family's co-pays went from $100 a year to $6,000 a year.

BJ Alums, a blog about former employees of the Beacon Journal in Ohio, gives the details in Retirees sue BJ  Black Press over health care coverage. and includes a Cleveland Plain Dealer article about the suit and a press release with the title "Retirees Sue Akron Beacon Journal for "Bait-and-Switch" Scheme."

A Beacon Journal representative said the company is honoring the original agreement that enticed many to leave the newspaper when it was owned by Knight-Ridder.

A judge set the first hearing for Oct. 26 (Interesting comment on why the loss of benefits for on segment hurts many.). BJ Alums also collected comments and reposted them as a blog entry to encourage discussion.


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