Kodak has removed its proposal to cut some Kodak retiree health benefits, at least temporarily.
Also, the Rochester company asked the U.S. Bankruptcy Court to set up a retiree committee on Wednesday.
was a recommendation Judge Alan Gropper made last month to Kodak.
The proposed changes affect thousands of retirees like Fred Kane.
He worked at Kodak for 26 years.
He painted the walls and changed the wallpaper.
"I thought it was the greatest place in the world," said Fred Kane, a Kodak retiree.
But in October 1991, he decided to take a lucrative retirement deal with a pension and benefits.
Much of that has changed.
"First they took away our dental, then our life insurance, then my wife's retirement," said Kane.
Fred was one of the 16-thousand retirees expected to lose benefits on May 1st.
Kodak said the cut would save millions of dollars.
Now its reversing course.
"This is not where retirees get to say I get to keep my healthcare. It's where they can say I can keep my healthcare at least a little longer," said George Conboy, Brighton Securities.
Kodak will revisit its motion to cut benefits after a retiree committee is formed.
"The retirees will have a formal court-recognized voice in the bankruptcy when it comes to benefits and I think that will be seen by all retirees as a plus," said Conboy.
Kodak's retiree organization, EKRA, says its pleased by the decision but says its likely Kodak doesn't have the money to sustain the current level of benefits,
But retirees will now get a say in court.
Fred doesn't know if any of this will help.
"Because everything else has been taken away, I am skeptical," said Kane.
This 79-year old Korean War veteran is already looking at getting help from the Veterans Administration.
He says his memories of Kodak aren't tarnished but he does wish promises were kept.
"They haven't followed through on their end, that is a disappointment. But I am of the personality of do what I got to do," said Kane.
EKRA President Bob Volpe released this statement in regards to the latest court developments:
"EKRA is pleased Kodak has made a decision to defer the proposed healthcare cuts. We think it will provide a better opportunity for a win-win solution. Also, we recognize Kodak's need to reduce its cash outflow quickly. And we are hopeful the retiree committee can honor that interests on their part while meeting retirees' needs.
Volpe says he expects a retiree committee to be formed by April 30th.
The U.S. Trustee will appoint the retirees to the committee.
Volpe says he expects about 7 to 9 retirees to be appointed but he says it is uncertain how they will be chosen.
He says he hopes that it will fairly represent all Kodak retirees.
Kodak spokesperson Chris Veronda released this statement about the latest requests:
"The Company hopes to continue with its current approach of maintaining core retiree medical and survivor benefits while significantly reducing its retiree medical and survivor benefits costs,but recognizes that the delay in initial modifications may accelerate the comprehensive review of existing retiree medical and survivor benefits."