Retirees had a lot of questions for NV Energy Vice President Punam Mathur when she attended the November meeting of the Reno/Sparks Chapter of the Local 1245 Retirees Club.
- Why is it so hard to get a problem fixed with Aetna?
- Why did my payment go up 150% when medical costs only increased 16.5%?
- Why aren’t retirees able to get flu shots with the active employees?
But everyone was waiting for someone to ask Mathur about the 800-pound gorilla in the room, and eventually someone did:
What would your response be if you retired with a contract with NV Energy and then later the company decided it no longer wanted to meet the conditions that had been signed and agreed to?
Or, put another way, why has the company left retirees to shoulder 100% of all future increases in medical premium costs, despite the fact that the company had promised employees full medical coverage for their retirement?
Mathur acknowledged she would “hate it” if that had happened to her, according to notes taken by a retiree at the meeting. Mathur went on to note that CEO Michael Yackira’s compensation is in line with the “market”, and that retirees should not conclude that budget decisions affecting them somehow reflect the idea that people have less value.
The retirees, however, had a hard time avoiding that conclusion. After employees had given 20, 30 even 40 years of service in jobs that can be extremely demanding physically, the company chose to back away from their commitment to fund their health care in their retirement. How else do you measure value in this situation, other than money? The company can crank up their nice words, but words don’t get the bills paid.
Mathur made an indirect reference to the retirees’ on-line campaign, Shame on NV Energy, when she said “dialogue” would be more productive than “shaming.”
Retiree Club Vice President Tom Bird said the retirees had asked for dialogue, but that the company had refused to work for a solution during contract bargaining, which of course is the ultimate form of dialogue in labor-management relations.
Punam responded that there was no role for retirees at the negotiating table.