KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (Aug. 22) - Judge Thomas Phillips will conduct a hearing on the Alcoa, Inc. retiree benefits case Wednesday, August 27, 2008 at 9 a.m. in U.S. District Court in Knoxville. Attorneys for both the company and the retirees have asked the judge to avoid a trial and rule in their favor on the case which impacts the health plans of 13,000 to 15,000 former aluminum company workers.

Hundreds of former Alcoa, Inc. employees are expected to attend Wednesday’s hearing in Knoxville.

According to the lawsuit filed on behalf of the Alcoa, Inc. retirees, the contract ratified nearly two years ago between Alcoa, Inc. and the United Steel Workers union imposes higher premium obligations, more deductibles and greater amounts of coinsurance on most — if not all — previously covered health-care expenses. The benefit changes were effective at the beginning of 2007 and apply to retirees who left the company between May 31, 1993, and June 1, 2006.

The contract was approved nationwide by a razor-thin margin. At Local 309 in Blount County, the vote was also close with 511 union members (51.7 percent) voting in favor of ratifying the contract and 478 members (48.3 percent) voting against it. Retiree benefits was the key point of contention.

The lawsuit charges that Alcoa, Inc. violated the retirees’ vested rights under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) and breached its contract under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).

Knoxville attorney Greg Coleman, who represents 14,000 Alcoa retirees nationwide in the case, said that Judge Phillips’ ruling would either end the case or send it forward to a trial.

Ah, unions - the epitome of

Ah, unions - the epitome of inefficiency. Let us watch as they diligently work to increase the market price of aluminum.

Lester

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