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  1. #11
    Pioneer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Nadvornick View Post
    Bankruptcies are always ugly. This one is no different.



    Ken
    I guess what I am most angry about is that our government allows this to happen.

    Funding a pension? Well, as long as you put in a small percentage of what is required every year, and promise to make up the rest, you are fine.

    Market didn't grow like you had hoped throughout the year so there is a shortfall? That's OK, you don't have to put in the money at the end of each year to make it up, you can just gamble that the market will increase twice as fast next year.

    What? You say that medical costs are climbing 5 times faster than you VERY CONSERVATIVE estimates. Don't worry about it. I am sure it will improve in the next year or two.

    Just be sure and put A LOT of money into my re-election campaign and next year we will let you deduct those "expenses" so you can pay less taxes.

    And don't get me started on 401K plans.

  2. #12

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    This type of medical and surving member benefit is threatened in many companies (including mine) even without bankruptcy. Unfortunately that kind of promise was made when times were good, and now it is just a promise -- not a guarantee as we may have been lead to believe.

  3. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by BrianShaw View Post
    now it is just a promise --
    Exactly my point. I am not trying to pick on you specifically, or anyone else in this forum. I am just letting off steam and ranting a little.

    It seems to be a national malaise. It's OK. It is an ugly bankruptcy. It was just a promise. Everyone just seems to accept it. Nobody seems to get pissed about this anymore.

    Sorry, I'm sure it appears that my liberal roots are showing, but I was raised to believe that my promise was my word. I don't think of it as liberal or conservative. If you do not believe that you can continue providing this benefit then quit promising it. Those that hire on after you quit promising it have no expectation. But don't take it away from those that were promised. Especially when you have been providing it.

    In my opinion many of the gains that were made in the 20th century are being rapidly bled away and we will soon be back where we were in the early 1900s. Companies can do anything they believe is necessary to secure their own future, as well as the future of the wealthy class that own and run these businesses. God forbid some banker should go bankrupt. Without his wealth everyone will suffer!!

    And people wonder why the difference between the haves and have-nots has grown so massive over the past few years in the United States.

    Sorry for the extended rant. I'll settle down and be quiet now.

  4. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pioneer View Post
    Exactly my point. I am not trying to pick on you specifically, or anyone else in this forum. I am just letting off steam and ranting a little.
    You'r certainly not picking on me... I live in fear daily that my med and survivor benefit may not survive. I've been busting my hump for my company for nearly 25 years on the promise that those benefits will be there. IF this gets taken from Kodak retirees that could be just the court prededent to support taking it from all the rest of us who work for companies that are suffering the economy. All the while... the seniors in my company are making multi-million dollar compensations with a contractual guarentee that THEY will continue to have those benefits. This case scares me to the core!

  5. #15
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    I feel for you. I think it is a national shame that this type of thing can happen today but it certainly is.

    My uncle worked all his life for a large foundry in the midwest and retired with a comfortable pension, including medical benefits. He was not rich by any means but he was not afraid he would lose his house or be begging for food. He passed away about 5 years ago and is survived by my aunt, a wonderful woman. The foundry is now struggling a bit in this economy and has recently been making many of the same noises and it is scaring my aunt half to death.

    It is people like this that are hurt the most, and they are the ones who need it the most. Yet we are willing, and seemingly perfectly happy, to yank the rug out from under them in their few remaining years while preserving the incomes and lifestyles of those that were supposedly responsible to ensure this didn't happen.

  6. #16
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    As a practical matter, I doubt we can expect government to ride herd on these problems, as they do the same stupid thing. Many states and municipalities have been "balancing the budget" by underfunding retirement plans for years -- that's part of the financial black hole some of them found themselves in during the past few years.

    Although I do agree such plans should be structured in a way that effectively guarantees them. If nothing else, that might force the plans to be structured more conservatively. Things have been tightened up compared with several decades ago; I remember when the Horn & Hardart restaurants closed in Philly there were interviews with waitresses and the like who had worked there 30+ years and were told "oops, sorry, there's no money in that pension plan." (And folks wonder why every now and again somebody stomps into a business with guns blazing!)

  7. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by arpinum View Post
    I brought this up a year ago. While it is true that the pension fund is short by at least $1.5B (and I say closer to $2.5B as their growth assumptions are unrealistic), PE stated that most retirees took a cash-out or are in a separate fund. So while some retirees will lose out, most have taken steps to protect themselves.
    I don't think I said "most", but I know quite a few did. I actually do not know the ratio of those who did to those who did not.

    Also, the cash benefit option was being reduced yearly for most people when I retired and the aim was to eliminate it entirely. By now, I think that option no longer exists. The cash benefit option required that EK calculate how much cash you would need with the current interest rate and based on your estimated retirement payment in order to have payments to the average age you would be expected to die. At that time it was 85. So, Kodak had to give us enough cash to live until we were 85 from the date of retirement, and based on then current interest rates. It was in our interest to leave when interest rates were low, thus giving us more cash!

    As for the current "change" in benefits, there appears to be 2 or 3 levels based on whether you get Medicare or not. I have yet to see what is involved.

    PE

  8. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pioneer View Post
    It is people like this that are hurt the most, and they are the ones who need it the most. Yet we are willing, and seemingly perfectly happy, to yank the rug out from under them in their few remaining years while preserving the incomes and lifestyles of those that were supposedly responsible to ensure this didn't happen.
    Was it Karl Marx who first wrote "Capitalism is savagery?"

    I'm not necessarily agreein', I'm just sayin'...



    Ken
    "They are the proof that something was there and no longer is. Like a stain. And the stillness of them is boggling. You can turn away but when you come back they’ll still be there looking at you."

    — Diane Arbus, March 15, 1971, in response to a request for a brief statement about photographs

  9. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by BrianShaw View Post
    and now it is just a promise

    "That was just an idle promise" - Homer Simpson.


    Steve.
    "People who say things won't work are a dime a dozen. People who figure out how to make things work are worth a fortune" - Dave Rat.

  10. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Nadvornick View Post
    Was it Karl Marx who first wrote "Capitalism is savagery?"

    I'm not necessarily agreein', I'm just sayin'...



    Ken
    It would sure be nice though if we had figured out something a little more benign than what Karl Marx was describing.

    And while I do agree that we seem to have gotten a little better over the years, it does seem to be such a little thing to require our own government to structure and enforce the rules to help ensure that companies really do keep the promises they make. Instead they make up laws and regulations with enough holes to make a lawyer happy! Oh yeah. Most of them are lawyers.

    I completely agree that requiring companies...and States and Municipalities, to fully fund their obligations at the end of each year would certainly keep people a bit more realistic about the promises they make. But why do that? Don't worry, we trust you. And if it don't work out you can always hire a lawyer and sue them.

    It was getting to the point that I was actually checking every year that my own company had deposited the matching funds they promised into my 401K. In my case they had actually done it when they said they would, but that little thing is not very well enforced either. Look at Enron, they were able to fund that with their own stock! Pretty handy for them but, as it turned out, not so handy for their employees.


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