Retirees produce DVDs to document their plight

KnoxNews: Columnists

Retirees produce DVDs to document their plight

June 13, 2007

The Coalition of Oak Ridge Retired Employees, representing about 12,000 contractor retirees or surviving spouses, has been pushing for a pension adjustment for years.

Now the group has laid out the case for all to see with a DVD package titled, “Failure of the DOE Pension System for Oak Ridge Contractor Retirees.”

Charlie Kuykendall, a former president of CORRE, said the two-disc set was produced primarily for elected officials and their staff members in hopes of drawing support in Washington and elsewhere.

The message is pretty clear: “Fund surplus grows and grows, but retirees fall further behind.”

By CORRE’s estimates, Oak Ridge retirees on average have lost about 50 percent of their purchasing power over the years as a result of inflation and other factors.

Unlike retirement funds at other Department of Energy sites, DOE does not contribute to the Oak Ridge fund (which has a reported surplus of $600 million or more). CORRE said DOE has not put any money into the pension fund since 1984.

While there have been a number of adjustments over the years, most of those occurred when Union Carbide was the federal contractor in Oak Ridge, the group said. Union Carbide left town in 1984.

The DVD package details the history of the pension system and provides a ton of factual information. It also includes interviews with retirees, including Kuykendall, Joanne Gailar, Frank Williams, Bill Wilcox, Joyce Conner, Harvey Kite and Virginia Coleman.

Keith and Judy Kibbe and Pete Lotts headed the production.

There’s criticism of DOE and the current group of contractors.

“It just seems like we are forgotten people,” Kuykendall said. But that doesn’t mean retirees regret their tenure in Oak Ridge or harbor bad feelings about the plants where they worked, he said.

“We’re supporters, not detractors,” he said. “We’re still loyal to them.”

For more information about CORRE or the DVDs, visit the group’s Web site at: The two-disc package may be purchased by sending a $5 check to: Coalition of Oak Ridge Retired Employees, P.O. Box 4266, Oak Ridge, TN 37831.

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