March 19, 2009: Rep. Ryan Announces Transitional Health Plans for Affected Amweld Retirees
Retirees Health Coverage Reinstated Retroactive to January 1st
(Washington, D.C.) Congressman Tim Ryan said today that he was pleased that Amweld International, LLC (“Amweld”), Ark II Manufacturing, LLC (“Ark II”) has arranged for the retirees affected by the recent cancellation of health care benefits to have access to identical coverage to what they had at the time of the Amweld sale. This follows a request from Congressman Ryan to Labor Secretary Hilda Solis urging the Secretary to conduct “an immediate investigation” of Amweld. Several affected Amweld retirees had contacted the Congressional office after being told their health coverage was cancelled retroactively even though their premiums continued to be deducted from their pension checks.
“In an era when employees and retirees have become completely disenfranchised by corporate greed, I’m pleased that Amweld has decided to fulfill its obligations,” said Congressman Ryan. “I hope this serves as an example to other companies to take care of those who helped them get where they are, even in these difficult times. The bottom line is that these workers deserve adequate health care coverage, not just now, but after June 30th.”
Gary Steinbeck, United Steelworkers of America Sub-District Director, thanked Congressman Tim Ryan and his staff for their hard work and diligence. He said that there are still unanswered questions the company needs to respond to in regards to health care benefits for Amweld retirees. “This has been a traumatic time for our members and their families," said Steinbeck. “We still don’t know who is responsible for the pension plan for our members who have worked decades in the Amweld plants. They need to know who their administrator is so they can file applications for their pensions.”
In a press release issued today, Amweld said that money withheld from pension checks had not been spent, and that premiums deducted would either be returned to retirees or applied to health care premiums. Affected retirees will be notified of such over the next few days. The coverage offered by the company will be retroactive to January 1st and will continue until at least June 30, 2009.
Added Ryan, “I will continue to fight for worker’s rights and benefits. I want to see that people get what they earned.”