Widow of longtime Sears worker frustrated by loss of medical benefits
75-year-old Ottawa woman says Sears executives 'should be ashamed'
For more than 20 years, Rachelle Chatelain has relied on her late husband's medical coverage from his Sears benefits plan to take care of whatever she needed to keep healthy.
So Chatelain was a little surprised during a visit to the dentist three weeks ago to learn her benefits had been cut off and that she needed to pay up.
Following the Sears fallout, she told CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning she expected to be notified if she was to lose her medical coverage.
"People work for those benefits and pensions — why take it away? That's very mean. [Sears] should be ashamed," she said.
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The 75-year-old Ottawa woman has thrown her support behind a petition to force company to prioritize pensioners when a company's assets are liquidated.
Her husband, René, started working at Sears in 1955 while it was still being built at the Carlingwood Shopping Centre. He retired at age 56 and passed away in 2005.
"All I get now is $98 a month [from the] Sears pension. And they're trying to take that away from me, which is a real joke. We've always said benefits is gold," she said.
'That is so insulting'
Sears will end up paying upwards of $6.5 million in bonus payments to head office staff just as thousands of employees are set to lose their jobs and see their pensions reduced.
"That is so insulting. You've worked so hard and you've taken care that you have enough for as long as you live and you depend on that company and you gave your all to them. And just all of a sudden they just drop you like a hot potato. [My husband] would be disappointed," Chatelain said.
"Sears was the best. He loved working for Sears."
Chatelain said she hopes the retailer's executives learn from this ordeal and put its workers' interests first.
With files from CBC Radio