The agreement that ended the GM strike this week marks a major turning point for American industrial workers, as the fiscal management of retiree health care is shifted from employer to union. The move is part of a trend as companies seeking to be competitive "offload" health care obligations to leave unions or individual workers struggling under mounting costs, reports the Wall Street Journal.
Such maneuvers are creating anxiety among middle class workers who "are employed but feeling like their health care is not secure," said a spokesman for a major retirement organization which is lobbying for national health care. The segment of firms offering health benefits fell from 69% in 2000 to 60% this year. In addition, more workers are expected to pay a greater portion of insurance and health care costs.