At least 2 dozen Xerox retirees picketed outside the company headquarters in Norwalk, Conn. last week to draw attention to cuts in their retiree healthcare benefits. The former employees wore T-shirts reading, “Xerox Breaks Promises" and carried signs that said “Xerox Can’t Be Trusted” and "Don't Take My Benefits!".
The giant printer and copier maker announced a cut in medical benefits for former employees over the age of 65 last year. The changes are expected to affect about half of all Xerox retirees.
The former Xerox workers also attended the company's annual shareholders' meeting Thursday morning. “All of those present were shareholders and a number had purchased a single share of stock so that they could attend the shareholder meeting,” says David Coriale, chairman of the Association of Retired Xerox Employees. “Our objective [was] to make the shareholders aware of our issue and displeasure with the management team … for this inexcusable move to disenfranchise its retirees.” Many of the retirees took an overnight bus from the Rochester, N.Y. area to attend the protest, Coriale says.
Some of the retirees attending the meeting were able to ask questions directly to recently retired CEO Anne Mulcahy. When one retiree asked about broken promises, Mulcahy responded, “This was intended to be something that was not going to be a benefit that, you know, was an entitlement forever. It was subject to business conditions. It was subject to management discretion. I know people either don’t read it, or forget it, or it doesn’t make any difference, but that is the case with these benefits,” she said. “We needed to make sure that whatever resources we had we could direct to the pre-65 portion of this where, frankly, there are no other choices but Xerox for healthcare.”
Mulcahy said Xerox will save $11 million annually by reducing retiree health benefits. Another group of nearly 40 retirees also picketed outside a Xerox office building in Rochester, N.Y. at the same time on Thursday. You can listen to a recording of the retirees questioning Mulcahy at the annual meeting of shareholders here.