U.S. District Judge Robert Cleland has put his seal of approval on a settlement that will force union retirees who worked for General Motors to pay more for their health care.

The federal judge's ruling noted that less than 1,250 affected employees objected to the settlement -- a pittance compared to the 476,000 former workers who fall under its coverage.

Under the new deal reached by GM and United Auto Workers negotiators in the fall of 2005, hourly retirees will have to pay premiums, deductibles, and co-pays for the first time ever -- as much as $370 for individuals and $752/year for their families.

Additionally, active GM employees will cough up $1/hour in future pay hikes to help offset the cost of retirees' health care. The General will chip in $3 billion to the same fund through 2011.

[Sources: Associated Press via Chron, UAW-GM.org]

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