UDWI REMC Board eliminates benefits for life
Bloomfield– The Utilities District of Western Indiana REMC Board of Directors announced this month the termination of a policy that gave employees and Directors “benefits for life” upon retirement, if they had reached 20-plus years of service to the cooperative.
The termination of the policy removed an estimated $3 million in debt liability for UDWI— a debt that was projected to increase significantly during the coming years as more employees reach retirement age and healthcare costs continue to rise.
Effective immediately, employees and Directors, regardless of years of service, will not receive UDWI-provided health insurance upon retirement. A separate policy that concerns benefits for life for the CEO upon retirement will be addressed at the December board meeting to determine if it will be terminated as well.
Already retired employees and directors, who are currently receiving the coverage, will continue to receive the benefit at this time. The Board decided that a sudden termination of plans for current recipients who rely on the benefits could cause undue personal and financial hardship to the retirees who have not had the opportunity to plan for alternative coverage.
The benefits for life policy, which had been in place for more than a decade, provided health benefits to retired employees and Directors as well as their spouses, and was fully funded by
UDWI. The UDWI Board of Directors determined the policy was financially unsustainable and added unnecessary risk to the cooperative. This policy change expands on a decision made by the Board last month that had already discontinued the benefit for retiring Directors.
“Our first priority is to run the cooperative with the best interests of the members in mind, and continuing this benefits for life policy was not serving our members,” said UDWI Board President Ron Thompson. “We value our employees and want to make sure their experience working at UDWI is a positive one, but we cannot continue to provide benefits after they retire. We have to make decisions that are for the greater good of the membership and the fiscal health of the coop—this is one of those decisions.”
This policy does not change current benefits of those working at the cooperative; employees and Directors will still have healthcare coverage while employed at UDWI REMC.