Court Upholds Cuts to Maytag Retirement Benefits

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By Aaron Hepker

NEWTON, Iowa (AP) — A federal appeals court has upheld a decision by Whirlpool Corp. to slash the medical benefits for more than 3,000 Maytag Corp. retirees.

Whirlpool purchased Newton, Iowa-based Maytag before closing its plant in 2007 and laying off hundreds of workers. In 2008, Whirlpool announced that Maytag retirees would no longer receive the free health care they believed they were owed under previous union contracts.

Whirlpool's plan started charging retirees in 2009 monthly premiums with deductibles, and required them to pay a portion of their expenses. The United Auto Workers challenged the cuts, saying they believed the benefits were vested and could not be eliminated.

The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals sided with Whirlpool on Tuesday, upholding a judge's ruling from last year that found the benefits were not vested.

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