PITTSBURGH, Dec. 17, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — The United Steelworkers (USW) today said that the union has sought a preliminary injunction in a lawsuit before the Southern District of Indiana to prevent Alcoa USA Corporation from unilaterally changing the health insurance benefits of workers who retired from the company before June 1, 1993, along with the spouses, surviving spouses and dependents of these retirees.
Earlier this year, Alcoa informed the retirees by letter that the company would terminate their insurance coverage on Dec. 31, 2020, when Alcoa will replace the existing programs with a private Medicare exchange program and Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA). Under the new program, retirees must choose from among up to 77 Medicare Advantage, Medigap and Part D drug plans, based on the geographic area.
The enrollment process can take hours of time on the phone or on-line and can be confusing. Alcoa has said that a retiree who fails to sign-up for the HRA by December 31 will be prevented from signing-up or receiving any HRA contribution for medical expenses or premiums in the future.
“Retiree benefits are a critical part of our collective bargaining agreements with Alcoa,” said USW District 7 Director Mike Millsap, who chairs the union negotiating committee. “The company agreed to provide these benefits, and cutting off this coverage during a deadly global pandemic is not only immoral, it’s unlawful.”
“It is deeply disturbing that Alcoa continues to show so little respect for this group of retirees, where the average age of class members is 85 years old and where there are 25 older than age 100,” Millsap said. “We’re asking the court to do right by these men and women, since they will be irreparably harmed without immediate action.”
The lawsuit against Alcoa was filed as a class action, and two individuals (one retiree and one surviving spouse) have joined the complaint as proposed class representatives.
The Wenatchee Aluminum Trades Council, a coalition of unions representing workers at an Alcoa facility in Washington state, is also a plaintiff.
The USW represents 850,000 men and women employed in manufacturing, metals, mining, pulp and paper, rubber, chemicals, glass, auto supply and the energy-producing industries, along with a growing number of workers in public sector, service, tech and academic occupations.
More information, contact: Tony Montana (412) 562-2592 or [email protected]
SOURCE United Steelworkers (USW)