Retired union members filed class action over health benefits

By Cara Bailey | Aug 15, 2007

CHARLESTON - A class-action lawsuit has been filed against the United Steel Workers of America by a group of retired workers who are seeking to have their health benefits covered.

Floyd Sayre, Sam Juniper and Don Rollins filed a suit Aug. 3 in Kanawha Circuit Court against United Steel Workers, AFL-CIO, District 8 and other employees of USW, claiming they were told when they retired their health benefits would be covered.

The men, and any other class members, are retirees of M & G Polymers in Mason County. The suit also claims the predecessor companies, Shell Chemical Company and The Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, are defendants.

According to the suit filed by attorney John A. Proctor, the retirees were promised health benefits at no cost when they retired. They received benefits until they received a letter Dec. 15, 2006, stating that beginning Jan. 1, 2007, they would have to pay for their benefits.

The suit claims the union and M & G negotiated a contract on behalf of the current employees and the retirees, giving them the same health care benefits. According to the suit, the class members claim the defendants do not represent the retirees and cannot negotiate on their behalf.

The class members claim they are entitled to the same benefits they were told they would receive when they retired.

According to the suit, the class members claim the defendants were negligent by terminating the no-cost health care benefits, and that they were also misrepresented. They seek unspecified general and punitive damages.

The suit says the class members might be more than 200 retirees and families of deceased retirees.

The case has been assigned to Judge Louis Bloom.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number 07-C-1615

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