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History of the Carbide Retiree Corps, Inc. (CRC)

In 1978, Warren Anderson, President of Union Carbide, announced plans to form a separate non­profit organization for providing assistance to retirees in utilizing their managerial, business, or technical skills in their retirement. Bill Morro, an officer in Chemicals and Plastics who was himself about to retire, had conceived the idea and offered to undertake the direction of the program on a voluntary basis. Carbide was to make the necessary resources available to him. In his announcement, Warren asked the "Domestic Executive List" to assist Morro "in any way you can to assure the success of this venture, which we believe to be the first of its kind in U.S. industry".

The new organization was called the "Carbide Retiree Service Corps, Inc" (CRSC) and was established as a non-profit corporation with officers, directors, and other leaders all serving without pay. Carbide was to provide financial support to cover operating costs. Geographical regions were created for the entire U.S. with each region represented by a director. Local CRSC chapters were to be established wherever feasible.

At the outset, CRSC emphasized the "service" in its name. An invitation to join the organization was mailed only to exempt salary retirees and contained a registration form asking for detailed information on the retiree's experience and skills. This information was to be entered into a CRSC "skills bank" for use in identifying possible opportunities.

CRSC operated in the above fashion over the next 9 years with limited success. About 1,600 of the 9,300 exempt salary retirees had registered, but only 10 chapters had been formed by the end of 1986. Only a few "service" opportunities had been uncovered and acted upon. The chapters had drifted away from the "service" mission and had become more interested in social activities. Two large independent retiree clubs, the Oldtimers in Charleston and Charlie's Angels in Danbury, open to all retirees regardless of pay category, declined to affiliate with CRSC. In addition, several social-oriented groups had been formed independently of CRSC at divested or discontinued Carbide locations such as Battery Products, Metals, and Films-Packaging plants.

In recognition of the above situation, CRSC decided in 1986 to de-emphasize the "service" role and reorient its efforts towards Carbide fellowship and mutual assistance. It dropped the word "service" from its name and became the "Carbide Retiree Corps, Inc" (CRC). It adopted a policy to include all Carbide retirees and other former employees of all pay categories, as well as spouses and surviving spouses.

A concerted effort was mounted in 1987 by the new CRC to establish chapters wherever there was a sufficient number of interested retirees to support one. All groups that had been operating independently of CRSC were invited to affiliate with CRC and eventually nearly all came on board, including the Oldtimers and Charlie's Angels. New chapters were formed at other present or former plant locations, at popular retirement areas in Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas, and at some large cities. Over the next five years, 72 new chapters were formed, bringing the total to 82 by the end of 1992. Since then, 20 more were added for a total of 102 by mid-1999. The number of retirees registered as members of CRC was then more than 12,000, or 38% of the total of 32,000 retirees. Chapter guidelines were established and provided to all chapters. These guidelines specify that chapters elect their own officers and decide their own programs and meeting schedules. CRC paid chapters' incidental costs. Essentially the only requirement imposed by CRC was that a chapter must accept any retiree or surviving spouse for membership.

A most important activity of CRC is the "Friends-In-Need " (FIN) program. It started as a modest effort in 1991 in Florida for retirees needing help in understanding and obtaining their retiree benefits. It was gradually expanded to cover the rest of the country and to reach out to retirees in need of any kind of help, and especially in support of surviving spouses. More than 400 FIN volunteers were trained at nearly every chapter. Each region had one or two appointed FIN Coordinators and volunteers to do the training.

Biennial retiree reunions have been held in Florida since the 1980's. These were started as Linde reunions and totally independent of CRSC. They were later expanded to include a second day for other Carbiders, and were subsequently combined as a single event for all retirees under CRC sponsorship. Bob Kennedy, Bill Joyce, and Bill Lichtenberger have been the main speakers at these events in the early years. Most recently, over 550 retirees and spouses attended a fall, 2010 reunion in Charleston, WV where over 5,000 retirees live in the area.

Many chapters at sites of discontinued UCC operations have become inactive due to aging and no influx of new members. Currently, we list a total of 67 active chapters out of a total of 114. More reductions are expected without efforts to expand our base. In the West Region – Albuquerque, NM to Riverton, WY and all areas west - there are only four active chapters out of sixteen. CRC attempts to continue serving the retirees in all areas through an area contact effort. A CRC member willing to serve is appointed as Area Contact to carry on the FIN program and various communication functions, such as would be expected from a chapter president with periodic mail or e-mailings updating on pension, benefits, health, and Dow and CRC issues.

Communications between CRC and the chapters are handled primarily by the Regional Directors. Several of the active chapters still issue newsletters, which they distribute to their own members. Some meet monthly and many only gather annually. The former "Retiree World", a national CRC newsletter, originally published two or three times a year and distributed to all registered retirees was discontinued subsequent to the acquisition of Union Carbide by Dow Chemical, but incorporated into several pages of “Dow Friends,” which is an employees and retirees document published three or four times a year.

Several chapters have established a retiree e-mail exchange system that now encompasses perhaps 4,000 contacts and is expected to continue to grow through expanded outreach efforts.

CRC received the support of Union Carbide throughout its existence, first as CRSC under Warren Anderson and then as CRC under Bob Kennedy and Bill Joyce. The Company provided funds for operating an office in Danbury and for reimbursing CRC officers and directors for out-of-pocket expenses and supported chapters costs. Carbide was also most generous in providing speakers for chapter meetings.

A. E. (Monty) Montagna - CRC Vice President-Operations July 24, 1999
   Updated by Mike Gaston March 2, 2011

Note: Dow Chemical has continued to financially support the Carbide Retiree Corps, it’s hospice contributions, the recognition of “Centenarians” on their 100th birthday, and expanded operational help within the limits of privacy issues.