AT&T Retirees Picket Over Rising Health Care Premiums - KiiiTV.com South Texas, Corpus Christi, Coastal Bend

AT&T Retirees Picket Over Rising Health Care Premiums

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CORPUS CHRISTI (Kiii News) -

Employees formed a picket line outside the downtown offices of AT&T in Corpus Christi, saying that since last year, their healthcare premiums have gone up some 300-percent.

"They gave this company decades of their life," said Kristi Veit of Communication Workers of America. "We ask that the company in return be as considerate to our retirees, and we ask that we can re-discuss this issue."

At issue is how to lower the costs of health insurance. They billed the picket line as an informational rally, showing support for the 60 or so workers that were marching at the national AT&T headquarters in Dallas on Wednesday.

"Most of our retirees' insurance premiums have gone up 300-percent over what they were paying, so now they have to make a choice. Do they want to be healthy or do they want to have insurance?" said Debra Martin, president of CWA Retirees. "It's a gamble. You have to gamble on your health now."

The Coastal Bend Labor Council and local chapter of Communication Workers of America are supporting the retirees, who say they just want to be able to negotiate more affordable health benefits with the AT&T corporation.

Late Wednesday afternoon, AT&T released a statement saying, "We provide some of the best retiree health care coverage in America, and we continue to subsidize it at a rate that is greater than the vast majority of other companies. AT&T is proud to be one of only about 28-percent of large employers that currently offer retiree health care coverage... Even with premium increases, we pay between 70- and 80-percent of the total cost for our non-management retirees' medical coverage at a time when many other companies pay far less, with most employers paying nothing at all."