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High Hopes: Why Courts Should Fulfill Expectations of Lifetime Retiree Health Benefits in Ambiguous Collective Bargaining Agreements

By Douglas Sondgeroth


Since World War II, employer-provided medical benefits for retirees have been a common feature of collective bargaining agreements. Due to dramatic increases in the cost of these benefits over the last decade, many employers have unilaterally modified or terminated these benefits, leaving retirees without their expected health insurance, This Note argues that until Congress acts to resolve this situation, federal courts must act to protect retirees\u27 benefits. The Note concludes that because the retirees\u27 expectations of continued benefits are reasonable in light of the union workplace and such an approach is consistent with federal labor policy, courts should apply a rebuttable presumption that such benefits vest once retirees prove the agreement providing them is ambiguous, and then allow employers to present evidence that overcomes the presumption

Topics: Retirement Security Law
Publisher: Digital Commons @ Boston College Law School
Year: 2001
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