“STEVE’S SWAN SONG” – 05/26/03
As noted in the following paragraphs, I’ve tried my best to help Monsanto and Solutia retirees over the past two years.
In 2001 we were shaken to our core with the Negotiated Settlement of Solutia’s Class Action Law Suit on Retiree Medical Benefits. We put together a large coalition of St. Louis retirees, filed a detailed Objection to the proposed settlement and presented our case in the Federal Court Hearing on October 19 in Pensacola, Florida. Unfortunately it was too late to change the outcome, but we fought the good fight and did it together as in the “old days” of our careers with Monsanto. Randy Spear, Tom Iversen and George Forsberg made major contributions to those endeavors.
Over the next few months a friend of many decades came forward in response to my request for development of a website for St. Louis Retirees. That individual was Don Harris, our website wizard. Don developed a very attractive and superbly organized site that began operation on February 5, 2002. The site provides a multitude of valuable features for all retirees and also gives recognition to those friends and coworkers that are no longer with us. We owe Don a great debt of gratitude for that effort and his continuing work as manager of the site.
Over the following sixteen months I prepared a series of website articles that focused on matters of significant importance to all retirees and which, in several cases, were specifically requested by very concerned or even panicked friends. Those subjects included “Medical Options for Solutia Class V Retirees,” ”Retiree Pensions from Monsanto,” “Retiree Pensions from Solutia,” “Social Security for Spouses,” etc. In addition, there have been other lengthy endeavors that haven’t been put on the website for various reasons. One such subject dealt with the possibility of “Protecting Non-Qualified Pension Assets in Monsanto,” a significant and serious matter of interest to many retirees. Unfortunately, after making lengthy and polite inquiries with Monsanto’s HR department, we had the door rudely slammed in our face by Monsanto’s Law department. I received considerable assistance on many of these subjects from a close friend, George Griffin. His determination and tenacity set George apart from most people. He’s the kind of man you want with you in any important endeavor.
Another subject just recently investigated is “Options for Retiree Group Medical Coverage” which is important in the event we lose our Solutia or Monsanto coverage. I’ve found what appear to be two significant potentials for group coverage, and the information has been forwarded to Jack Treece for consideration and further study by the AMSR.
Now to some other matters that need discussing.
On April 25 when I issued an email announcing that two new articles were available on the website, I also noted that we had reached the point where additional help was needed on the website. I asked for volunteers in two critical areas of importance to retirees, but as of this date have received commitments from only two individuals – Dan Steinmeyer and Dean Danzer. I know both of these men and have the greatest respect for their ability. However, more people are needed and I’m extremely disappointed that very capable individuals from other needed fields haven’t yet come forward. So, let me repeat the “Call To Arms.”
Retirees continue to have major concerns in the areas of “Pensions” and “Medical Coverage.” In my opinion each area needs a team of three-to-four people who do the investigation/analyis and write articles on their findings for the website. At least two of the team members must be from the Financial and Human Resources fields because their background knowledge and expertise are critical to the effort. The other one-to-two members can be from any field (Business, Engineering, etc.) because they will bring additional skills, insights and creativity to the task. By using this three-to-four person team concept, no one will be overworked, no one will be burdened. Additionally, I suggest that the team’s assignment last for no more than 1.5 - 2 years with individuals being replaced on a staggered basis by new volunteers.
In addition to the two subjects mentioned above, another area needs attention. In my opinion, the Pensacola AMSR Committee is overworked and needs help. It’s doubtful the AMSR Committee can handle all the inquiries, etc. of some 4600+ members, even with periodic additional help from other Pensacola retirees. The St. Louis Retiree Group should be willing to form additional teams to undertake special, ad hoc assignments from the AMSR. Everyone has to remember that nothing is free in life and it isn’t a one-way street. Help your friends and you help yourselves. Everyone benefits.
Last item. As I relinquish my duties today, May 26, as the Information Coordinator for the St. Louis website, someone will have to step forward and fill that opening just as must be done with the recommended formation of various teams. Some of you might ask why a more orderly transition isn’t taking place. The answer is that a request for help was made informally several times in the past and formally on April 25 and 29. Unfortunately, only two individuals out of some 800+ St. Louis retirees have stepped forward. Secondly, sudden changes are sometimes the best kind. Everyone quickly finds out who is willing to contribute and make something meaningful happen for the greater good of all involved.
Best wishes to all.