News Publisher Drops Some Retiree Health Coverage

December 14, 2009 ( – Newspaper publisher Lee Enterprises has dropped retiree health coverage for some participants and increased premium cost-sharing programs for others as part of a cost-saving move.

The Davenport, Iowa-based firm said in a financial news release that the moves would reduce its retiree health costs in 2010 and cut its benefit obligation liability by up to $30 million.

A news release Monday from the Newspaper Guild of St. Louis-CWA said Lee dropped coverage for about 100 retired guild members and “dozens more” management retirees. Those who do not lose coverage entirely will have to pay $1,200 per month to buy their own policy, the union said.

The union also alleged the company had explicitly promised lifetime health coverage in its union contracts.

According to the Guild, the company notified retirees of its decision in letters dated December 4 and that those losing coverage will do so beginning January 1.