New Newsletter for Retirees:
This is the first edition of the Aetna Retirees Association newsletter, or ARA News. Our intent is to keep Aetna retirees informed of Association activities in support of their interests and answer retiree questions. It will be published on our website (www.aetnaretirees.com) as needed. There will also be a printed version for those who do not have Internet access. We ask that as many of you as possible read the e-mail or website version for all future editions. We will keep printing and mailing costs to a minimum by mailing printed copies only to those who do not have internet access.
The last couple of months have been very busy for ARA. Using about ten different mailing lists that various retirees generously provided, we announced the existence of the Association and its intended purpose in late August. The response was quick and over 400 retirees joined us in the first month. The Association growth was at the same rate in the second month as more retirees heard about ARA.
It has been especially gratifying that over 20% of those joining have given at or above the Founders rate of $100. A few retirees sent in their applications without any dues. We assume they cannot afford the $20 at this time and we’re happy they took us at our word that we did not want dues to hinder anyone’s participation.
Early funds were used to incorporate ARA and mail to additional lists of retirees. Some of the spouses of early members were enlisted to type addresses. Some continue to help us with recording and inputting information. We greatly appreciate their efforts.
Our president, Robert (Bob) Gilligan, has spent a lot of time conferring with the leaders of other retiree associations. We are indebted to them, as they have been willing to spend time and talent to help at every turn. We have accomplished in a very short time what took them months and years to achieve. It would have been impossible without their help.
By the beginning of September our incorporation was approved by the State of Connecticut. Retired Aetna tax lawyers are now helping with our filing for non-profit status so we will not have to pay taxes on our income. Unfortunately, this status will not make dues or other contributions tax deductible to members, but it will help us achieve better results.
Your Retirees Association Board met for the first time on September 20 for its first formal meeting. We are very appreciative to have such a strong group of people join our Board. Their enthusiasm for our cause is very impressive and encouraging. Their biographies will be provided on the www.aetnaretirees.com website. During its meeting, the Board appointed officers to run the daily operation of ARA. These officers’ biographies will also be on the website
Members are already voicing a wide variety of concerns and approaches they would recommend. Some feel we have no option but to go the legal route. Others feel we must get legislators to take responsibility for making companies do the right thing. And a few feel we should trust the current Aetna leadership to do the right thing. The leadership team tries hard to take everyone’s suggestions into consideration while, at the same time, developing plans to turn these ideas into actionable items.
Our members seem most anxious for legal action. We are exploring this option with several law firms but continue to hope that litigation can be avoided. Nonetheless, we are determined to be properly prepared should the need arise. (You can help in this preparation by checking your files and sending information as described below and in the “Get Involved” section of the website.) The rumor that we are already pursuing legal action is inaccurate.
“We believe it is necessary to explore all our legal and legislative options. At the same time as we hope the Company’s leaders will seek the dialogue they have so far rejected. We plan to engage Aetna directors and shareholders in understanding their responsibility to assure that the promises made to employees are kept. We believe this is critical to the Company’s reputation,” says Bob Gilligan.
We have engaged a Public Relation firm noted for its expertise in advocacy campaigns to help us with our media and legislative planning. Warren Azano, an ARA director with significant government relations expertise is happy to have them on board to assist us in formulating and carrying out our legislative strategy.
To provide national support for any legislative efforts we pursue, ARA has just joined the National Retirees Legislative Network (NRLN). Several large retiree organizations from corporations with household names, including IBM, AT&T, Raytheon and Prudential started NRLN. NRLN represents more than 2,000,000 individual retirees and maintains a website at www.nrln.org. Their current priorities include HR 1322 – The emergency Retiree Health Benefits Protection Act of 2002 – as well as other Retiree Health and Pension COLA bills. Each of you, as a member of ARA, is automatically a member of NRLN.
Many you have volunteered your time to help. We are happy to announce that we have begun to organize this rich pool of talent and take advantage of your offers. Marilyn Wilson has been working with Bob Quinn to coordinate volunteer services. That will help your all-volunteer leadership team get some much-needed help. The first example is the volunteers who worked on getting this newsletter published. We do thank them for their commitment.
It has been a busy time and we expect things to continue to be hectic. At the time this was written, Aetna management had delayed the retiree enrollment period until November and the enrollment package was being received by retirees. Please read your package carefully. We are happy that they decided not to raise medical rates due to increased medical costs, but you will want to study the changes carefully and call Aetna regarding anything you don’t clearly understand. We were hoping that they were reconsidering their promise to retirees and would, on their own, realize it is a commitment that they should keep. Unfortunately, the recent announcement has shown that not to be true, so we continue our efforts to defend your rights.
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The questions that follow are in many cases a combination of similar questions and have been edited for clarity.
Q. One or two retired executives have observed that what current Aetna executives are doing is just good business. They say retirees have to recognize how the business environment has changed. Is ARA being unrealistic about today’s business environment?
A. While only very few former executives have raised this question, it is one all of us have thought about. If we were still at Aetna, would we be doing the same thing? Would we have a very different view of the business environment if we were still working? It is a question that is impossible to answer accurately. We can only hope that we would look beyond what other companies are doing and consider the strong ethical history in which Aetna has been rooted. There are three aspects to this history which seem relevant:
First and foremost we made solemn promises on which people based their life decisions. That can not be taken lightly.
Second, Aetna management decided that Aetna would keep the entire retiree base when it sold the property/casualty, life and financial businesses. Carrying all these retirees on a smaller employee base guaranteed that the Company’s expense ratio would be higher than other health benefit companies. Using that higher expense now as an excuse to change retiree benefits seems inconsistent at best; unethical (and possibly illegal) at worst.
Lastly, we question whether the growing gap between executive compensation and the average retiree pension is fair. Certainly we want current leadership to be well rewarded for enhancing shareholder value and Aetna results continue to improve. That is good (or should be) for retirees as well as active employees. Aetna has always set a higher standard for employee compensation…for example your Editor remembers the implementation of “Performance Bonus” from which all employees could benefit. No other Company that we knew had such a program for all employees. Those affiliated with ARA believe in that higher standard. We know it would be hard to maintain in today’s business climate – maybe even more difficult than it used to be. We understand the difficulty associated with such decisions but that doesn’t relieve responsible managers from keeping the promises made by their predecessors. In the parlance of a current biography, “I did it because I could” is hardly the standard we will willingly accept.
Q. One retiree has expressed concern that the association seems to be dominated by former executives and that (current) executives are the source of the problem. She asks, “Wouldn’t we be better off with average employees representing us rather than (former) executives?”
A. It is hard not to agree with this one. We are hopeful that more women and more of the people who had the non-managerial jobs will not only become members, but leaders who help with the work we have in progress. These are the people who contributed so much to Aetna’s success and now we need them to make ARA successful. They can also help us identify other issues and other actions that will make us a better stronger organization. If you are one of the people who is willing to work and bring your ideas into the mix, we would be happy to hear more. Meanwhile the new critical role of volunteer coordinator is being filled by Marilyn Wilson, a former administrative assistant – a good start. And we should all remember that many of the executives involved in this effort got their start from within the ranks, unlike today’s execs who were brought in from the outside, neither understanding nor, apparently, agreeing with Aetna’s culture.
Q. Why aren’t you being more aggressive and filing a class action lawsuit against Aetna?
A. As ARA Board Chairman John Dwyer has said in various interviews, we are not anxious to take Aetna to court. We are all very devoted to the Company. It was a wonderful company for us. You don’t act precipitously against a company you feel so positively about. However, that being said, we are preparing material in case legal action proves necessary. You can get more detail and even help in this effort by looking on page ten at the “Do you Have Old Documents” piece or going to the “Get Involved” section of the website and click on “HERE” on the fourth bullet.
Q. Why are you going after Aetna when they have been so good to us? I’m sure they wouldn’t do this if they didn’t have to.
A. We all had this kind of trust in Aetna leadership for a lot of years. However, reducing reserves by $32 million and flowing that into earnings in the face of very satisfactory earnings coupled with a $750 million tax refund and executive compensation which may be worth hundreds of millions (for example Jack Rowe cashed in over $26 million on stock options in one week of September, this year) has made many of us question whether Aetna should be trusted to act in the best interest of retirees. We admire those of you who are able to keep the faith. Most, however, seem to be willing to join in our efforts. It’s important to remember that “Aetna” is not an entity in itself…it’s made up of people, and people can change its direction.
Q. Will you be addressing the Cash Balance pension plan?
A. This was not originally on our agenda, but as long as there are current retirees for whom it raises issues we will help them analyze the issues involved and explore what can be done. If you are interested in this issue please contact our President, Bob Gilligan at firstname.lastname@example.org and indicate your interest and willingness to work on this issue. Or write him at our address: Aetna Retirees Association, PO Box 280165, East Hartford CT 06128. It would be particularly helpful if an actuary could join Bob on this issue.
Q. When will we get an accounting of the funds going to ARA?
A. First be assured that the Leadership Team and Board of Directors review ARA’s financials on a regular basis to assure they are being accounted for in accordance with sound accounting procedures and controls. At the end of the fiscal year, which ends in December, we plan to have our books audited by a CPA. In addition, ARA will comply with all federal and state financial reporting requirements. Once these steps have been taken we will make our reports available to any member who would like to schedule a review in our offices. However, we will not be publishing our financials; we have a concern that total openness might lead Aetna executives to base their responses on our financials, rather than the ethical aspects of the issues. This is a particular concern as we are just starting our operation and growing our membership
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Your Leadership Team and Board
Brief Bios on select leadership Team and Board members will appear in each edition of PROMISES.
John J. Dwyer, Chairman
Following graduation from Providence College, Mr. Dwyer joined Aetna Life and Casualty in 1960 at that company’s Harrisburg Pennsylvania field office as a claim representative. During the course of his thirty four years with the company he headed several of the casualty-property divisions including National Accounts, the Bond Division, the Personal Lines Division and the consolidation of the Personal and Commercial Claim Departments. While at Aetna, he served as a founding director of Executive Risk Inc. which was subsequently acquired by the Chubb Insurance Company following a successful public offering. During his Aetna years he served on the Board of the Surety Association of America and the National Insurance Crime Bureau.
Following his retirement from Aetna in 1994 he joined Terra Nova Holdings Ltd. and moved to Bermuda as President of that company’s Bermuda insurance operations. He was later appointed by the Board of Directors to the position of Executive Chairman and held that position until the successful sale of the Company to Markel Corporation in 2000. During his Terra Nova assignment he served as a Director of Octavian Managing Agency Ltd., Terra Nova’s wholly owned subsidiary, which managed seven syndicates at Lloyd’s.
His community involvement included service to the Advisory Board of Council Partners in Bermuda and the Board of Directors of the Connecticut Institute for the Blind/Oak Hill School in Connecticut.
John and his wife Susan have two grown children and three granddaughters. They live in West Simsbury, Connecticut and summer in South Duxbury, Massachusetts.
Robert Gilligan, President
Bob Gilligan began his Aetna career in 1957 as a Programmer-Trainee in the Group Control Department. He retired in1990 as Vice President, Employee Benefits Division. He is a LOMA Fellow and a member of the very first Yale Senior Management Program. Along the way he was the Project leader of Aetna's first real-time computer system-AECLAIMS and helped start an insurance company in Indonesia.
Active in the South Windsor community for twenty five years, he served as Chairman of the Library Board, Zoning Board of Appeals and Planning and Zoning Commission.
Bob participates in a number of non-profit organizations and is an avid golfer with memberships in Florida and Connecticut. He and his wife Virginia have three children, Robert of Grand Rapids, Michigan, Laurie of Rocky Hill and Terri Robinson of Glastonbury.
Robert C. Quinn, Vice President
Bob joined the Aetna in June, 1964 following two years as a First Lieutenant in the Army. He spent his entire 30 year career with Aetna in the Human Resources Department. From 1985-1994, Bob headed up the Executive Resources Department within Corporate Human Resources. As such, he was accountable for supporting the Chairman and his direct reports in areas such as succession planning, high talent identification and executive development. In addition, Bob was responsible for overseeing and coordinating separation agreements for all home office officers who were terminated during this period of time. He worked directly with the Law Department and senior management in developing an enhanced separation package to help ease the financial burden on those whose positions were eliminated during the late 80’s and early 90’s. Therefore, he was an active participant in, and witness to, the Company’s efforts to accomplish its downsizing goals by encouraging managers to accept early retirement by accepting a generous package of compensation and benefits. Bob feels a personal responsibility to fight to help restore benefits for those to whom he and others made promises that are now being broken.
Bob currently owns his own career consulting practice, Career Management Services, in Rocky Hill, Connecticut. He lives in Wethersfield with Priscilla,his wife of 42 years. He has 4 grown children and 7 grandchildren.
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The following information has appeared previously on the www.aetnaretirees.com website. The above information will also be available there shortly.
Bob Gilligan, formerly a Vice President in Aetna’s Employee Benefits Division announced the creation of a new retirees association focused on helping retirees address benefit and pension issues when Aetna seeks to make changes. He said, “The immediate cause for creating this organization is Aetna’s announcement that they plan to eliminate the subsidy for the retiree dental plan.
After efforts by John Dwyer, our new Board Chairman, as well as by Bob Quinn and Emmett McTeague, who met with Aetna Human Resources; and then a letter writing campaign by many retirees, it became clear we needed to better organize our efforts if we were to be successful. We found tremendous support for the concept of a collective effort. A few of us got together and decided to get it started”.
Bob goes on to tell us some of the steps that have been necessary in forming the organization. A leadership team needed to be pulled together and officers decided upon. Then a board of people with diverse skills and representing the various divisions Aetna retirees come from had to be identified and engaged in supporting AR’s efforts. John Dwyer indicated, “I couldn’t be more pleased with the people who have come forward to serve in this effort. We have people with Government Relation, legal, Human Resources, technology and leadership skills. Divisions from Employee Benefits to Property Casualty, to International, as well as Corporate are all represented. And they all believe firmly in the cause”.
"What we all seem to have in common is a combination of disappointment and anger at Aetna’s decision to break its promises”, said Gilligan. “While it is nice to once again experience the camaraderie among these former “Aetnoids,” There is a certain sadness in all of us that we find this new organization necessary”. “Nevertheless, we are ready to do whatever proves necessary to change Aetna’s decision" adds Dwyer.
Approach: The purpose and approach of the Association are described in the Mission, Strategy and Critical Success Factors that follow:
The Aetna Retirees Association mission is to involve retirees in protecting the medical/dental, vision, prescription drug and life insurance benefits as well as the pensions that Aetna committed itself to, so that they may live in retirement as Aetna promised they would.
We hope to carry out this mission in cooperation with the Company by regularly communicating our views regarding proposed benefit changes while seeking a clear understanding of their intent. We will also seek to educate directors and shareholders regarding their obligations to the former employees who have served them well and to enlist their aid in assuring that the company keeps its commitments.
If and when the Company proves unresponsive, ARA will, with great reluctance, engage legislators and regulators in those issues requiring a legislative remedy and, if necessary, initiate legal action. We will involve the public through various media when we believe public support will be helpful in gaining a better response from the Company.
- Timely benefits information from the Company
- Clear support and involvement from a large portion of retirees
- Sufficient financial resources
- Timely access to expert resources
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Will the Retirees Association really be able to make
On what will our money be spent?
Aetna has, until now, been very good to us. Is the
Association out to hurt Aetna?
May active employees join the Aetna Retirees
Are you really against Aetna management or will you
try to work with them?
What if I have questions or comments?
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An ad hoc Committee is gathering additional evidence concerning Aetna's promises to its retirees. It is important that we gather all available evidence concerning statements that Aetna made about retirement benefits, reaching back as far as we can.
Over the years, Aetna published numerous statements and explanations concerning its promises to retirees. We have gathered some of these – e.g., we have the October 26, 1967 statement of "Personnel Policy of Aetna Life & Casualty", "Your Second Paycheck 1988", "Benefits Handbook 1994."
We need to pin down when and how Aetna first warned that retiree health benefits in particular might be changed, suspended or terminated.
To the extent that Aetna expressed caveats about its obligations to retirees, we need to determine whether such caveats clearly encompassed retiree medical-dental benefits, how conspicuous or inconspicuous the warnings were, and whether Aetna ever warned at any time that it might reduce benefits to those already retired.
We need your help in obtaining other benefits booklets, publications or correspondence of any kind that address the foregoing. We ask that you look through any materials that you have retained and if you find any that might be pertinent, please resolve any doubt in favor of sending either the originals (or copies) to:
If you wish to submit a document as an email attachment (or have a question about a possible submission), send it to email@example.com.
It is possible that confidential separation agreements contain references to, or guarantees of, pension or health benefits. If so, we are only interested in the portions that identify you, the date of the agreement, and the section(s) that address pension and/or retiree health issues. Please redact the rest before sending.
If you send materials, please clearly identify yourself, including your address, phone number, Email, Fax, etc. in the event that future questions arise concerning the source of the materials.
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Print this form out by selecting Print from the File menu
Name (Last, first, middle initial): _____________________________________________________________________
Date of Birth: _________________ Month/Year of Retirement: ____________________
Your Last Position and Division at Aetna:
Your address: ____________________________________________________________
Phone:_____________________________ FAX: _______________________________
Spouse's Name: _________________________________________________________
Spouse's Date of Birth (Optional): _____________________________________
Spouse is (circle one): [Under Aetna insurance] [Not under Aetna insurance]
Dues: $20 (yearly). Contributions of $100 or more qualify as a founding member.
Contribution: _______ Total: _______
Dues/contributions are not tax deductible. Please make checks payable to Aetna Retirees Association, Inc. and send to PO Box 280165, East Hartford, CT 06128
If you are interested in volunteering your assistance in this work, please let us know what amount of time you could provide and what particular skills you would like to offer. (We are currently in particular need of someone with media relations experience and someone with actuarial experience.)
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