Greater Hartford has a huge stake in the upcoming decision of MetLife regarding
the future of recently acquired Travelers Life & Annuity.
After the $11.5 billion proposed purchase was announced last month, MetLife
said ominously that it planned to cut costs by $150 million, in part through
layoffs. Potentially hundreds of Travelers' 2,000 Hartford workers could be
terminated. Such a scenario obviously would be devastating to families and
the local economy. Worse would be removing the business from Hartford altogether.
Gov. M. Jodi Rell, Mayor Eddie Perez and U.S. Sens. Christopher J. Dodd and
Joseph I. Lieberman have all contacted MetLife officials to press the case
for protecting Travelers' experienced workforce. That effort should be redoubled.
MetLife President C. Robert Henrikson cited
the "highly respected skills" of
Travelers' employees as a reason his company was attracted to Travelers.
That should come as no surprise to the residents
of Greater Hartford, many of whom work for insurers. For good reason, Hartford
is called the "insurance
capital of the world," a reputation built during many decades of innovation
and growth involving some of the biggest names in insurance - among them, Aetna,
Travelers, Phoenix and The Hartford.
MetLife has said it is "committed to Connecticut." That's
a welcome signal. After all, the company knows the area, having expanded
its presence in Greater Hartford in recent years.
Most Travelers employees now work in CityPlace downtown. Ideally, MetLife
will keep them downtown, which is undergoing a long-planned renaissance involving
new housing, a convention center, parking, restaurants, retail outlets and
Mrs. Rell lists job creation as one of her top priorities. She plans to meet
soon with MetLife executives for a face-to-face discussion of the insurer's
She and other officials would hit a home run if they persuaded MetLife not
to lay off Travelers employees and to keep the workforce in Hartford.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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