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Retirees Win Benefits Fight

A U.S. District Court ruling has blocked Troy, Mich.-based ArvinMeritor Inc.'s plans to enforce new health insurance rules for their automotive employees on Jan. 1. The company is appealing the case to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Retirees from ArvinMeritor and the United Auto Workers union brought a lawsuit against ArvinMeritor and the company's benefits administrator over its plans to eliminate health benefits at the beginning of 2006 for all retirees, dependents and surviving spouses age 65 and over. The court held the company couldn't do so because of a series of collective bargaining agreements the parties negotiated over five decades.

"Defendants shall reinstate and resume paying the full cost of health benefits for retirees from the UAW-represented collective bargaining units in the 12 plants addressed in these actions, and for their surviving spouses, and other eligible dependents," the ruling stated. The court also ruled that the company must revert to policy practices made prior to changes in 2003.

Ford Motor Co. also has been dealing with UAW recently in its plans to reduce retiree health care benefits. On Dec. 22, 2005, UAW announced a tentative agreement with Ford on the policy change by a 51 percent majority vote conducted by UAW Ford local unions throughout the U.S.

Staff Writer

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