LOUISVILLE, Ky., March 28, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Last weekend, Cummins engine mechanics and service workers from West Virginia attended the Mid-America Trucking Show to protest Cummins' (NYSE: CMI) unaffordable health insurance.
Over the course of two days, Cummins employees and supporters handed out thousands of air fresheners that said "Every American Deserves Health Care" and handbills that asked, "What's Gone Wrong With Cummins?"
In a week dominated by news of attacks on Americans' health care protections, the struggle by Cummins' West Virginia employees, members of Teamsters Local 175, to hold on to affordable, quality health care became big news at the trucking show.
At the trucking show, Cummins employees spoke with attendees about the phony health insurance Cummins is trying to steamroll them into. Even though the multibillion dollar company announced another huge yearly profit, these Cummins workers and their families are now facing the prospect of having to pay $6,000 in upfront medical deductibles each year, before any insurance kicks in.
"I am here with my wife and child to say to Cummins' CEO that I'm very concerned about this plan and how it would affect our family. Health insurance is meant to provide real coverage in a time of greatest need, but under Cummins' plan, I would have to spend $6,000 out of my paycheck before the insurance would cover any of my family's medical bills," said Bryan Kallas, a Cummins mechanic attending the fair.
"Cummins employees in other places give its health insurance very negative reviews. I want to keep my union health care plan – it has much lower deductibles and a free primary health center in West Virginia," Kallas said.
"High deductible plans like Cummins' have been proven to lead to people becoming sicker and poorer, because they delay care to avoid paying huge bills before their coverage will kick in," said Luke Farley, Business Agent with Local 175. "Trumpcare didn't pass, Obamacare is the law, but Cumminscare is still unaffordable, unhealthy and unfair."
Farley said the local is hoping to get back to the bargaining table with Cummins, find some common ground and achieve a resolution.
"A lot of people here were pretty disappointed to hear that Cummins has turned its back on its employees," Kallas said. "This company used to be known as being socially responsible, but it's destroying its own reputation."
"A truck show official told the mechanics 'You're the life blood of the industry.' It's time for Cummins CEO Tom Linebarger to show he understands that," said Brian Quirk, mechanic and chief steward at Cummins' Fairmont, W.Va. shop.
The growing strife at Cummins could be a problem for West Virginia-area infrastructure reliability needs, since Cummins mechanics are highly skilled technicians and the company might have problems with retention or a possible breakdown in labor relations.
"We don't know if we can continue to provide maintenance service under these conditions," Quirk said.
Last year, in Charleston, Cummins backed down from a similar effort to cut its mechanics off of good Teamsters health insurance, after its employees threatened to strike.
Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.4 million hardworking men and women throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Visit www.teamster.org for more information. Follow us on Twitter @Teamsters and "like" us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/teamsters.
Luke Farley, (304) 549-7609
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SOURCE Teamsters Local 175