RAVENSWOOD – Century Aluminum has agreed to pay a group of retired workers from its Ravenswood plant that closed in 2009 $23 million for benefits.

The benefits were taken away shortly after the plant closed eight years ago. If the court approves the settlement, more than 700 retirees and their families will be provided health benefits.

The year after production was halted at the plant, the company starting terminating benefits for its retirees. A lawsuit was then filed by United Steelworkers and retirees.

In 2015, the plant was declared permanently closed.

The settlement agreement was filed Feb. 9. Century Aluminum has funded a trust fund for the reimbursement of medical and retirement costs.

“This settlement is a testament to the solidarity and hard work of USW retirees who never gave up trying to win back benefits earned over a lifetime of hard work,” said Tom Conway, USW International Vice President in a statement. “This would not have happened without the retirees who made their voices heard and the union that stood behind them during a long and difficult struggle.”

On Feb. 11, U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin issued a statement that he was proud of the union for not giving up.

“I am also so proud of the United Steelworkers union for fighting for the benefits that they have earned through a lifetime of hard work and for never giving up the fight,” Manchin said. “Karen Gorrell led these efforts from day one on behalf of these retirees. In 2009, the plant closed and in 2010, all the employees were told all of their health care benefits, that had been promised to them and negotiated in good faith, were gone by the stroke of a pen. These are some of the hardest-working people. They don’t ask for a whole lot, just an opportunity to take care of themselves and their family. This is great news for them and their families.”

Century Aluminum has agreed to make payments into the trust fund in installments of $5 million payable upon final approval by the court and $2 million payable annually for the next nine years.

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