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Friday, January 8, 2010


Employees and retirees at a Minneapolis publishing company learned their retirement benefits will end March 1.
Augsburg Fortress is the publishing house of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
The publisher sent letters to hundreds of employees and retirees last week.
Former employee Karen Walhof said the letter stated that as of Dec. 31 the company owned members more than $24 million, but only had a third of the money in assets. If the company kept paying out monthly benefits, the plan would run out of money in five years.
Augsburg Fortress blamed the money problems on fewer book sales, shrinking ELCA congregations and increasing competition on the internet.
Walhof, who worked for the company for 20 years and could lose a couple hundred thousand dollars, said, "I think it's legally defensible as the letter explains, but morally repugnant."
Most people under the plan will receive some type of lump sum payment, depending on their years of service.
The CEO of Augsburg Fortress said "these decisions break our hearts and we apologize, but they are necessary."
According to the company the ELCA has no obligations to help with its financial problems because it's separate from any plan sponsored by the church.

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