ST. PAUL — Retirees of 3M Co. learned in late May the company was cutting their life insurance policies nearly in half.

A letter said the maximum life insurance payout would fall to $8,000 from $15,000 on Aug. 1. The change affects about 28,000 retirees, a company spokeswoman said.

Dick Hansen, who worked for 36 years in the company’s health care unit, said the change came as a surprise. Hansen is now living on the Florida Gulf Coast.

“I wrote them and said I have no intention of dying by Aug. 1 so I guess my estate is out $7,000,” the 89-year-old said in a phone interview.

Donna Flemming Runyon, a 3M spokeswoman, said the life insurance plan will also close to new retirees on Aug. 1.

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“This followed careful consideration and evaluation of our current benefits plan, which we routinely review to ensure we strike a balance among our obligations to employees, retirees and shareholders,” Runyon said in a statement.

3M has more than 90,000 employees worldwide and is known for its Post-its, but makes a wide variety of goods.

In April, CEO Michael Roman said the Maplewood-based company had “a disappointing start to the year” and would look for ways to “drive productivity, reduce costs, and increase cash flow.”

The poor first-quarter showing led to the company’s stock having what Bloomberg described as the “worst one-day rout in three decades.”

Retiree Hansen didn’t fault the company for looking for ways to save money. He said he was generally happy with his retirement benefits.

But he challenged the idea that the drop in life insurance payouts somehow helps current employees.

“It benefits shareholders,” Hansen said. “It penalizes older people.”