SRHS retirees take fight for pension money to the White House

SRHS retirees take fight for pension money to the White House

PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - Several frustrated Singing River Health System retirees are writing letters to President Obama. Their request - help getting 100 percent of their retirement money.

"Dear President Obama, I would respectfully  like to call your attention to the plight of the retirees of Singing River Hospital System," said Betty Phelps.

Phelps and nearly a dozen of her former colleagues wrote personal, emotional handwritten letters to President Obama that they hope will end up in his hands. They are asking for help to bring the pension plan nightmare involving their former employer to an end.

The pension problem began back in 2010, when the health system stopped contributing its portion to the retirement pot, but never told retirees until 2014.

Now, pension plans are underfunded by more than $140 million.

"This has the potential to occur anywhere in the country," said Kitty Aguilar.

Hospital officials said they've worked on payment plan and so far, they've proposed to pay retirees 88 percent of their checks. However, many of the former employees want the 100 percent they were promised.

After picketing at the hospitals in the county for months, fighting for help at the state level, the group of senior citizens felt it was time for the commander in chief to hear their plea.

"We are a very small spot on the U.S. that barely gets noticed, but we have big hearts and are hurting over the terrible thing that has happened to us," Aguilar added.

Retirees say they're optimistic the letter campaign will get the national attention it deserves, but until then, they don't plan to stop the fight.

"We still have the eye of the tiger. Our motto is do the right thing. We fight for ourselves and future generations," said Phelps.

Singing River Health System's Director of Communications issued the following statement:

"All concerned want the pension issue resolved, nobody more than Singing River Health System. We have worked tirelessly over the past months to reach a solution that will be positive for retirees, current employees, and the Health System itself. We understand how everyone wants this situation to move forward, and we believe we are close to being to that point. If the President can help resolve this issue, we would welcome his assistance as well."

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