December 20, 2007

News From USW: Union Announces Lowered Costs for Republic VEBA Participants

News From USW: The United Steelworkers (USW) today announced that some 2,200 retirees, surviving spouses and their families who suffered significant losses as a result of the bankruptcy of Republic Technologies International (RTI) are getting a reduction in their health care premiums for the second time in as many years from an innovative benefit trust fund bargained by the USW to assist them.

Retiree health care contributions will be lowered for USW-represented retirees and surviving spouses from former RTI facilities in Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Illinois and New York who have chosen to participate in the Voluntary Employee Beneficiary Association (VEBA). The retirees' share was previously lowered from 51% of the total cost of coverage in 2006 to 37% in 2007. The contribution now stands at 25% of the total cost of coverage, with the announced reduction for 2008.

The Republic Retiree VEBA Benefit Trust was established in 2002 through negotiations between the USW and Republic Engineered Products (REP), which now owns several of the former RTI plants.

"We continue to stand by our commitment to restore a measure of what was stolen from these retirees by their former employers and the federal bankruptcy courts," said USW International President Leo W. Gerard. "I'm very proud that our bargaining committees have made it a priority to negotiate this meaningful, ongoing benefit for them."

The VEBA is funded by contributions from REP at rates negotiated by the USW, and benefits are jointly determined by a Board of Trustees made up of union and company appointees, depending on funds available in the trust and the needs of eligible retirees.

USW District 7 Sub-district 5 Director Mike Millsap, who co-chairs the Board of Trustees of the Republic Retiree VEBA Benefit Trust, said that he is proud to serve the Republic retirees and that the trustees will continue to monitor the fund and adjust benefit levels as necessary in order to provide these benefits.

"We'll continue to fight for justice for our members, retirees and their spouses," Millsap said.

The USW represents 850,000 workers in the United States and Canada employed in the metals, rubber, chemicals, paper, oil refining and other industries as well as the service and public sectors, including about 2,000 members employed at REP facilities in the United States.