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ROCHESTER – Eastman Kodak Co. said Wednesday that it has asked a U.S. 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 that 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 that the other benefits cost about $10 million monthly and that 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 that it was surprised and disappointed by the proposal, which would affect about 56,000 retirees, dependents and survivors.
Art Roberts, spokesman for the retirees association EKRA, said the group has not yet decided what step it might take in an attempt to block the change, aside from arguing that the 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 committee of unsecured creditors.