Kodak asks court to end retiree medical benefits

October 10, 2012 - 10:34 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (AP) — Eastman Kodak Co. said Wednesday it has asked a bankruptcy court judge to allow it to end retiree medical and some other benefits at the end of the year as part of its restructuring.

The company said it reached an agreement with the court-appointed committee of retirees to pay a total of $650 million in claims and $7.5 million in cash into a fund that could be used for future payments in exchange for eliminating its current $1.2 billion liability for medical, dental, life insurance and survivor income benefits.

A company spokesman said pensions would not be affected.

It said the other benefits cost about $10 million monthly and the change is essential to emerging successfully from Chapter 11 protection. A hearing on the agreement has been scheduled for Oct. 29.

An association that represents about 5,000 Kodak retirees said it was surprised and disappointed by the proposal, which would affect about 56,000 retirees, dependents and survivors.

Art Roberts, spokesman for the association EKRA, said it hasn't decided what step it might take to attempt to block the change, aside from arguing the official retiree committee named by the court doesn't fully represent the interests of all retirees.

Kodak said the agreement also has the support of the official committee of unsecured creditors.

The Rochester, N.Y.,-based company said more information about how they will be affected will be given to beneficiaries in coming weeks.