Updated: Century Aluminum Retirees Gather At W.Va. Capitol

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Charleston, W.Va. (AP) -- Century Aluminum retirees are at the capitol seeking help regaining health care benefits for nearly 600 former employees of the company's Ravenswood factory.

Dozens of retired United Steelworkers members and supporters rallied Thursday, hearing pledges of support from lawmakers and others during a gathering on the building's north steps.

Democratic Delegate Mike Caputo, a United Mine Workers official, says the retirees and others need to continue fighting for worker rights or there will be nothing left to fight for.

Retirees also heard from a string of Democrats running in this year's special election for Governor.

Retirees believe they were promised lifetime health care benefits. Their benefits ended Dec. 31, 2010.

Century shuttered its Ravenswood factory in 2009.

(Copyright 2011 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.)


Hundreds of people...among them, representatives of elected officials offices...packed the United Steelworkers hall in Ravenswood Wednesday to hear concerns about a loss of health care benefits for Century Aluminum retirees.

The company says it terminated those benefits as a contingency toward re-opening the closed Century plant.

But steelworkers' retirees says it broke a promise it to made them more than 50 years ago, when Kaiser Aluminum operated the Ravenswood plant.

"This past week, Senator Rockefeller personally called (Century Aluminum President) Logan Kruger again to express his concern about this problem," said Wes Holden, a representative of Rockefeller's office, "and, again, to get the company to take advantage of the new retiree insurance program that was created in the health care reform law."

The case is making its way through the federal courts.

Some on hand said legislation is needed to prevent Century...and possibly other companies...from cancelling health benefits of retired workers.

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