Teamster 688 father will lose health insurance when Schnuck fires 234 workers
By ED FINKELSTEIN
With tears in her eyes, Tanya Christmann describes the tragic circumstances that came out of nowhere for her son Jake LeGrand when he was 14 and continue today at 22: uncontrolled vomiting, kidney failure that required a transplant, lungs filling with blood, high blood pressure, mini ulcers, all highlighted by constant trips to the hospital to stave off the next crisis. Jake is kept alive by dialysis three times a week because of the failure of his transplanted kidney last February.
Now Jake faces yet another disaster of Titanic proportions: the loss of health insurance to cover the soaring monthly costs for hospitals and medicines.
Bob Christmann, Jake’s dad who has worked over 20 years at the Schnucks warehouse as a member of Teamsters Local 688 (and four years before that while in high school as a member of UFCW Local 655 in the stores) will be fired by Todd Schnuck August 7.
Bob is one of the 204 Teamsters, plus 30 others, now working at the Schnucks warehouse that will be shuttered and all 234 employees fired when Schnuck moves the work to a new warehouse this fall to be staffed by a non-union, out-state, international logistics firm.
‘SON’S LIFE IS ON THE LINE’
“I’m devastated. My son’s life is on the line when I lose my health insurance,” Bob said, the emotion of a frustrated dad clearly in his voice. “This is my son’s life. We have to keep his team of transplant doctors. I’ll probably have to work two jobs, but that’s what I’ll do if necessary.”
“We can’t keep him out of the hospital for a 30-day period,” says Tanya, noting that Jake has had one crisis after another for the past seven years after tragedy stuck. In addition to his incredible array of medical problems, Jake also endures an incurable skin disease on his hands, arms and back often resulting in uncontrollable bleeding.
And the doctors have no idea what caused the onslaught in the first place when he was 14.
BILL COLLECTORS ALREADY
Tanya is already under siege: when Jake suffered a secondary infection last February that caused his implanted kidney from an uncle to fail, he was flown from St. Joseph’s Hospital in St. Charles to Barnes/Jewish Hospital, “the ride that saved his life,” says Tanya. Jake went onto life support and almost didn’t make it.
Unable to pay the private helicopter company the $14,107 bill, it was turned over to a Colorado collection agency that’s now hounding Tanya for payment. Bob’s insurance wouldn’t cover any of the flight cost.
NO RESPONSE FROM SCHNUCK
Desperate for answers that will impact her son’s life, Tanya called Todd Schnuck pleading for some advice as to how they will be able to keep Jake alive without health insurance. No response.
“It’s really sad. These men and women, so many of them having worked their entire life in the warehouse to support Schnucks, and they are treated like this? And we’re not the only ones facing this kind of health care crisis. Every single workers there could have a Jake in their home,” Tanya says on the verge, again, of tears.
“It’s not like the Schnucks need the money. I don’t understand why they would do this!”
“I’m devastated. There’s no reason for them to do this besides the money and greed. I hope the six family members who reap the profits can live with themselves,” Bob adds.
As if she doesn’t have enough to stress over, Tanya adds: “I fear for the future of all the warehouse workers. I’ve been to their picnics. They have pride in their work. Who would have ever guessed that Schnucks would do this?”