Retirees Fret GM's Bankruptcy A job at General Motors used to mean not having to worry about retirement. The company had promised a good pension and health care for life. Retirees are losing some of their benefits as the company goes through bankruptcy. Many worry that they could lose even more if the big automaker's fortunes don't turn around quickly.
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Retirees Fret GM's Bankruptcy

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Retirees Fret GM's Bankruptcy

Retirees Fret GM's Bankruptcy

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RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:

Let's bring in NPR's David Schaper.

DAVID SCHAPER: What's going on? How are...

KIRK LANE: Puzzled looks, upset looks, sad looks. I've seen a lot of tears.

SCHAPER: Kirk Lane spent 33 years working in GM's Willow Run Powertrain plant before retiring in April.

LANE: From day one, we've been promised that, you know, you dedicate your time and service and life to us as far as General Motors goes - you know, you commit to us, and we'll commit to, you know, taking care of you and - when your time comes. And it's slowly getting pinched off here and pinched off here and pinched off here. And they're taking more and more away from us. And it's scary as hell.

SCHAPER: What scares Lane is what he sees as an uncertain future for GM's health care coverage for retirees. You see, Lane didn't want to retire, but he had to this spring because of heart problems.

LANE: If they take my health care away, I probably won't be around very long because I won't be able to afford my medicines. I won't be able to afford them. I take 10 pills a day. So - and they're expensive.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SCHAPER: Like a lot of loyal workers and retirees, Kirk Lane says he loved his job and the company, but does he really believe GM will bounce back?

LANE: In my heart, I believe it will. I believe it will come back. I believe that this company is not dead.

SCHAPER: But that's not all that reassuring to some retirees.

BRUCE BAYHAY: I don't put anything past them, because I've been around for 58 years and I've seen a lot of stuff happen that shouldn't have happened.

SCHAPER: So now instead of enjoying retirement, Bayhay says he's looking for at least a part-time job to help rebuild the nest egg he thought he'd earned in the GM factory.

BAYHAY: If you'd worked for something for 30 years and then somebody just comes in and, just because they decide to, take it away from you, what would your attitude be? Real simple: It ain't right.

SCHAPER: David Schaper, NPR News, Detroit.

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