Courtroom experience and a legally-binding IAM contract combined to bring a multi-million dollar legal victory for the retirees in Local 933 who formerly worked for Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson, AZ.
In the ruling issued this week, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected an argument by Raytheon and upheld the lower court’s ruling that the retirees and their spouses have a vested right to no-cost health insurance until they reach age 65.
The court cited the IAM-Raytheon collective bargaining agreements between 1990 and 1999, which included company-paid medical benefits for retirees. As a vested benefit, the Court ruled that Raytheon could not unilaterally take away that right, regardless of what the company had written and included in plan documents.
The company will have to repay premiums for about 1,000 retirees and spouses, estimated to be more than $6 million.
“It has taken six long years to see this issue finally come to a positive ending,” said Directing Business Representative James Watson. “It’s a tragedy that some retirees did not live long enough to see this decision. Many more of our retirees and their families still are frustrated and disappointed that Raytheon did not honor their promise made to them when they retired.”
Western Territory GVP Gary Allen also applauded the ruling, saying, “These benefits were part of the overall compensation that the IAM negotiated with the Raytheon Company on behalf of these workers. There was no confusion as to what the language meant. I congratulate Brother Watson, and everyone involved, for staying in this fight and demanding the fairness that our retirees have earned,” said Allen. “This is a wonderful example of why it pays to belong to the IAM.”