Quad Cities-based Deere and Company has seen record profits and rosy predictions for this year — but one group of stockholders plans to turn out at the company’s annual meeting Wednesday to voice their displeasure. The Flex Retirees Organization was formed last fall after the company announced it would no longer sponsor health insurance for thousands of salaried retirees.
The retirees were instead told to sign up for Medicare, and they now receive a monthly reimbursement from Deere to pay their own health costs. Flex spokesman, Mike Stohlmeyer from East Moline, wonders why health costs are being pushed onto retirees at a time when the company is doing so well.
Stohlmeyer says none of them want to be fighting this, they’d much rather be enjoying their retirement, but he says they’ve been backed into a corner.Stohlmeyer and other retiree-shareholders will attend the annual meeting and hope to be given the chance to ask top executives why their health benefits have been cut. And why, in their opinion, Deere broke its promise to provide health care.
Stohlmeyer says the forecast is nothing but up, with the projections predicting a 22-percent profit increase. "It’s not the time to be cutting benefits for the existing salaried workforce or the retirees," Stohlmeyer says.
Deere says the new health plan provides more control for retirees, while helping the company control its costs. The Flex organization is also raising money for a lawsuit against Deere, and has hired a Phoenix law firm specializing in employment law.