News 12 at 6 o'clock / Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012
JACKSON, S.C. -- Back in 1954, Loron Williamson was an electrician at a start-up government project called the Savannah River Plant.
"The purpose of that plant was to develop and build protective weaponry," said Williamson at his Jackson home.
Like the other thousands of workers who were out there, Williamson's mission was a big one.
"Russia was rattling their bombs at us, and we had to protect our country," he said.
Like all the others, he expected his contractor, DuPont, to take care care of him even after he retired 39 years later, but what he got in the mail just a couple weeks ago gave Williamson some bad news. His medical benefits are taking a big cut. The 83-year-old now has until Dec. 31 to buy his own health care.
"These retirees and their spouses have never had to worry about that," said Andy Cwalina, president of the SRS Retiree Association.
Cwalina didn't see the cut coming either.
"This lower amount that's been issued seems to be a shock," he said.
He says many of the 80 to 90-year-old retirees will only get $1,400 a year to purchase coverage. That's a thousand dollars less than the site's current contractor, Savannah River Nuclear Solutions, is offering to its retirees. SRNS also gave more than a year's notice. Williamson didn't know about DuPont's changes until the company sent him a letter in mid-August, only months before the change takes effect.
"DuPont, we were faithful to you. You be faithful to us," Williamson said.
News 12 is told DuPont is offering the stipends to only retirees who are currently enrolled. However, SRNS is giving all retirees a new opportunity to enroll.
A DuPont document says they're making the change because their current plan "no longer makes good business sense."
But one retiree said bluntly, "We've been screwed," and he estimates it'll cost him $2,000 out-of-pocket per year.
In a statement to News 12, a representative for Congressman Joe Wilson, R-S.C., says, "Congressman Wilson has been made aware of DuPont's alterations to its group health care coverage. He will continue to closely monitor the situation and offer whatever assistance available to ensure all retirees can make the decision that is best for their specific healthcare situation."
The representative added that Wilson was not contacted by DuPont in reference to the changes.
To see the changes, click here.
To see the letter sent to DuPont retirees, click here.
For DuPont contact numbers, click here.