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Company keeps case confidential

The precise grounds for Constellium's appeal of a ruling that awarded up to $1.5 million in unemployment compensation benefits to workers who went on strike last summer are unknown.

That's because Constellium declined to release a copy of the appeal and WorkForce contends federal rules and state law prevent it from doing so. The Steelworkers union didn't return calls.

In December a three-member state Labor Dispute Tribunal ruled that the workers are eligible for benefits. WorkForce spokeswoman Courtney Sisk said at the time that the tribunal "found the claimants not disqualified from receiving unemployment compensation benefits" pursuant to state law "because there was not a work stoppage at the employer plant facility as a result of the labor dispute."

Before it was learned Tuesday that there would be no hearing on the appeal because both the company and the Steelworkers union are resting their cases, I asked for the names of the lawyers representing each side.

Sisk said, "Our legal counsel for the labor dispute hearing advises that since everything pertaining to the hearing panel thus far is protected by confidentiality, WorkForce West Virginia is not at liberty to release the names of attorneys without their permission."

The hearing on Constellium's appeal, originally scheduled for Wednesday, would have been open to the public. By resting their cases, both Constellium and the union avoided a public airing of their arguments.

Sisk did furnish the names of the three people who comprise the Board of Review, which will decide the appeal: Jack Canfield, a former commissioner of the Department of Employment Security, former legislator and gubernatorial aide, and owner of a Charleston advertising and public relations firm that bears his name; Leslie Facemyer of Jackson County, who is semi-retired from Facemyer Resources in Ripley; and Gino Columbo, a former state senator and owner of Columbo Real Estate in Clarksburg.

Sisk said the trio will meet within the next week to review all briefs submitted, deliberate and reach a decision. She said the decision will then be made public within 15 days.

Perhaps the grounds for the appeal and the arguments will be revealed in the decision. Whatever that decision is, it could be appealed to Kanawha Circuit Court. If it is, more light could be shed on the case there - unless someone can convince a judge to keep the case under wraps.

***

State Senate President Jeff Kessler, who has four children, got off one of the best quips Wednesday when discussing education reform at the Charleston Area Alliance's Issues & Eggs breakfast at the Marriott.

"Some people my age are worrying about their 401(k)," he said. "I'm worrying about K through 12."

***

South Charleston has distributed 6,000 calendars to city residents and is in the process of delivering 4,000 calendars to the city's businesses, schools and hotels, said Bob Anderson, executive director of the city's convention and visitors bureau.

"The calendar is our gift to the citizens," he said.


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