UPDATE: Century Aluminum Retirees Continue Fighting for Benefits

By: Todd Baucher, James Sparvero Email
By: Todd Baucher, James Sparvero Email
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UPDATE 3/31/2014 4:35 PM

Century Aluminum retirees are still fighting to get back their medical benefits.

Monday morning the group picketed outside the plant in Ravenswood.

Over a dozen retirees picketed for seven hours.

But they still aren't seeing the action they want from Century Aluminum.

The former employees say they're still waiting on a restart of the Ravenswood aluminum plant and a return of their medical benefits.

The retirees lost their healthcare four years ago, shortly after the plant closed in 2009.

The insurance was part of a settlement reached between Century and employees.

The retirees then organized a 78 day protest.

Today, they're still fighting and waiting for what they say was promised to them.

"We just want what we paid for. We'd like to have some healthcare. We'd like to have our lives back," says Karen Gorrell, wife of a retiree. "They make you think they care but how do you care when you leave people out here at our age uninsured, you leave people out here at our age financially bleeding to death."

Gorrell says she no longer believes anything century officials tell her.

The plant's manager says "no comment" during the ongoing civil case.

The group also accuses century of stealing funds from retirees to buy a new plant in Kentucky while the Jackson County location sits idle.


She did not work for Century Aluminum, but Karen Gorrell has, in many ways, been the face of the struggle for the company's retirees to regain their health benefits.

Tuesday, those retirees were on hand to show support for Gorrell and her husband.

Both Gorrells were summoned to the shut-down Century plant to provide a deposition on the case for company attorneys.

Those health benefits were discontinued in 2010, shortly after the plant's closing.

Former workers tell us they are not only showing support for Gorrell and her husband, who is a retiree - they want to show the company their desire to have those benefits reinstated.

"They promised us, in every situation, that they would reopen this plant. We went along with them; we went down to the legislature and get that $60 million package through and to the PSC. They promised us they would reopen the plant and start it shortly, and here we still are, waiting," says retiree Jim Weltner.

Reinstatement of those benefits, like the plant's reopening, has been on hold since last year, after Century was unsuccessful in getting a lower rate on its utility costs.

Calls made to Century's California headquarters for their comment were not returned.


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