Early NCR Retirees Get Offer Too Good to Skip : Labor: Many at computer firm weren't ready to stop working. But lump-sum payment and enhanced benefits meant they could do things they couldn't afford before.


At 56, Norm Reeder wasn't ready to retire.

The computer program analyst thought he would be on the job at NCR Corp. for at least six more years. But when the computer manufacturer decided last year to streamline its operations, it made him an offer he couldn't refuse.

Reeder was among 2,400 NCR workers who accepted the early retirement offer that includes a lump-sum payment of $30,000, insurance benefits for varying periods and other benefits.

The package was offered to 5,500 NCR workers age 50 and older with at least 10 years of service. The company employs 51,000 workers worldwide, including 27,000 in the United States. The offer was extended only to workers in the United States.

(NCR said Jan. 26 it will change its 110-year-old name to AT&T; Global Information Solutions to capitalize on the identity of its well-known parent company. American Telephone & Telegraph Co. bought NCR in 1991.)

Reeder, who has worked for NCR for 15 years, said it was a tough decision. He wanted to stay with the company but feared being laid off if he refused the offer.

"I really didn't have any ill feelings to the company, but at the time I was hired I anticipated being there until I was 62," he said.

Reeder said a deciding factor was the company's agreement to extend for 10 years its health and medical coverage for him and his wife, Betty, who has a history of health problems.

The Reeders, who reared three daughters, live on a 14-acre farm north of Dayton, where they raise wheat and soybeans.

Reeder said his wife, a retired schoolteacher, was worried about the financial impact of his retirement.

"For my wife and I, this was a pretty difficult decision," said Reeder. "But I felt I'd find something to do."

It didn't take him long. After retiring Dec. 31, Reeder landed a temporary job with a contractor that administers NCR's payroll.

"But I have made some contacts with some other contracting firms and friends of mine, and they feel I can probably continue in this capacity with another firm," he said.

"A friend told me when one door closes, another opens," he added.

For Lowell Rust, a 40-year NCR employee, the offer came at the perfect time.

"I was planning to retire at the end of January anyway," said Rust, 62, who managed trade shows for the computer maker.

"This was very definitely big-time icing on the cake. It certainly opened up a lot of things we can do now that we couldn't do before."

Rust said he and his wife had wanted to build an addition on their house and buy some property in Tennessee but were not sure whether they could afford it. The early retirement package will allow them to do that, he said.

Rust plans to spend his retirement helping build homes for the needy, volunteering at Kettering Medical Center and playing golf.

He has not ruled out another job. He said he has heard from several companies that want him to help them set up trade shows.

NCR spokeswoman Patricia Allen said the company tried to make the early retirement offer attractive, but not so attractive that it would trigger a mass exodus of valuable employees.

"We're trying to be more competitive and strengthen our market position," she said.

The company also offered 25,000 of its U.S. employees a "voluntary separation" package. If the employees leave their jobs, they will receive a lump-sum payment of $5,000 plus an additional sum based on years of service to the company. They will also receive insurance and retirement benefits.

Jean Worth, an NCR program manager who has worked for the company for 27 years, accepted the voluntary separation offer. She said she wants to start her own desktop publishing business.

"I have wanted to work at home in my own business for several years, and I saw this as an opportunity to do that," said Worth, 57. "It just so happens I'm the right age and right place in life. So it seemed like a good idea."

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