Supreme Court Says No to Health Care Benefits for Union Retirees

A pivotal U.S. Supreme Court decision could endanger health care benefits that union retirees once thought were untouchable.

The court overturned a previous legal presumption that health care benefits negotiated through a collective bargaining agreement vested when an employee retired and lasted through the rest of their lifetime if the duration of the benefits are not explicitly spelled out.

The case, M&G Polymers v. Tackett, concerned a union contract at the Point Pleasant Polyester Plant in Apple Grove, WV. M&G Polymers bought the plant in 2000, and said it would start requiring retirees to contribute to health care costs.

The case will be sent back to the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which originally ruled in favor of the retirees, with instructions to rule based on the Supreme Court’s new interpretation.