Steelworkers Sue Alcoa over Retiree Health Coverage Cutbacks

April 12, 2006 ( - The United Steelworkers of America (USW) has sued Alcoa, Inc., over the aluminum giant's planned cutbacks in some retiree health care coverage.

The suit, filed in US District Court in Knoxville, Tennessee, seeks damages for affected retirees and their families over the company’s plan to implement a retiree benefit cap in January that would limit its spending on retirees’ medical benefits at 2006 expenditures and divide any additional costs among the retirees, the Pittsburgh Business Journal reported.

The proposed class-action suit was filed on behalf of Alcoa and former Reynolds Food Packaging master contract location retirees.

“Alcoa has a contractual obligation to continue providing agreed upon health care benefits to retirees and their families who have given their work lives to building this company into the world’s premier aluminum producer,” said Jim Robinson, who serves as the USW’s chief negotiator with Alcoa.

Alcoa spokesman Kevin Lowery could not immediately be reached for comment, but CEO Alain Belda, in a conference call late Monday following the release of the company’s first-quarter earnings, said he is conscious of the cost of not getting union workers to pay a larger share of their health-care costs.