WARREN - Steelworkers laid off from the bankrupt RG Steel in Warren and throughout the company will lose their company-provided health care benefits beginning Friday, but United Steelworkers officials said they are working to bridge the gap.
''We are working on some options for them as we speak,'' United Steelworkers Local 1375 president Darryl Parker said Tuesday.
Laid-off workers received letters in the past week indicating company-provided "health and welfare plans" will end.
Among the programs being cut are medical, dental, vision, prescription drug, life insurance, short-term disability, accidental death and dismemberment, supplemental unemployment and flexible spending.
The letter indicated no COBRA through a company-sponsored plan would be available; however, it did indicate that employees of Warren's RG Steel may be entitled to COBRA coverage under the Steelworkers Health and Welfare Fund for medical, dental and vision coverage.
Bill Williams, Human Resources administrator for RG Steel, declined to comment on the issue and referred media calls to the RG Steel offices in Maryland. A message left there seeking comment was not returned Tuesday.
In other RG Steel bankruptcy matters, a federal bankruptcy judge hearing the case involving Warren's RG Steel has agreed to expedite judgment on issues raised recently by neighboring coke plant ArcelorMittal that it should have the right to purchase portions of the Warren mill for $1.
Attorneys representing RG Steel in its bankruptcy case are objecting to the claims filed Aug. 14 by ArcelorMittal, which owns the coke plant adjacent to the bankrupt RG Steel's Warren facility on Pine Avenue, objecting to the pending sale of the RG Steel plant to lead bidder C.J. Betters Enterprises Inc. for $16 million.
ArcelorMittal has cited a 1988 easement option struck by previous owners LTV and Warren Consolidated Inc. arguing that it should have the right to purchase certain assets including the boiler and power house facilities at RG's plant for $1.
In its response filed last week, RG Steel attorneys argue that under Ohio law, an "option agreement" would not guarantee the sale. RG Steel also argues that any option held by ArcelorMittal would be subject to discussions about environmental issues and labor contracts.
The bankrupt steelmaker also argues that there is no record that the option agreement, dated Sept. 1, 1988, is even authentic, noting that ArcelorMittal identifies five subsequent asset sales, mergers, name changes and other items that were not reflected in any amended or updated document.