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Retired GM workers concerned about health, pension benefits

Robert Bow knows just how fortunate he's been to have earned a generous retirement benefits package, especially low-cost healthcare, during a 31-year career with General Motors.

Now, just 2  1/2 weeks after prostate surgery, Bow, 65, and his wife, LaRue, are among the hundreds of thousands of GM retirees and dependents contemplating the possibility of seeing their benefits cut or costs increased.

"When you get used to having benefits and they get cut back, that's hard," said Bow, of Aledo, who retired from GM's Arlington assembly plant in 1995 at age 51 after a stroke.

The Bows were among several dozen retirees and relatives, including former GM, Ford and Chrysler workers, who attended a scheduled health benefits meeting Tuesday at the offices of UAW Local 276 in Grand Prairie.

In interviews after the meeting, retirees expressed concern about the future of their pensions, healthcare benefits and costs, as well as dismay that the fortunes of GM and the other U.S. automakers have sunk so low.

Workers who retire from the company draw a pension and health benefits until age 65, when Medicare kicks in. GM then pays for the bulk of the cost of supplemental coverage.

"I hope they don't attack our retirement," said Jim Randolph, 68, who retired eight years ago after working for 32 years in GM's Tarrant County parts depot.

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