Members flew to Zug, Switzerland to lead protests outside Rich's office. They also used the Rich controversy to dissuade customers from buying aluminum from RAC, which was operating with non-union replacement workers.
The union workers eventually prevailed. They got their jobs back, and Rich sold his interest in the company, which was restructured into Century Aluminum. It still owns the shuttered smelter at the Ravenswood site.
Although the battle was won, union workers held fast to their animosity of Rich.
When Clinton ended up pardoning him, people took it as a "slap in the face."
"I just can't believe Bill Clinton would do something like that," Jerry Schoonover, then-president of USW Local 5668 told the Daily Mail's Chris Stirewalt in 2001.
Making matters worse were revelations that Rich's former wife, Denise, had given more than $200,000 to the Democratic Party in 2000 and also donated about $450,000 to Clinton's presidential library fund.
That created an appearance that Rich had given money as part of a quid-pro-quo for the pardon.
"I figure it had to be for personal gain, because I just can't think of any other reason," Schoonover said at the time.
One footnote from the Clinton pardon: It was based in part on the recommendation of a deputy attorney general named Eric Holder. Holder, now U.S. attorney general, wrote in his final opinion that he was "neutral, leaning toward" a pardon.
However, during testimony months later at a congressional hearing looking into the pardon, Holder said if he had known all of the facts in the case, "I would not have recommended to the president that he grant the pardon."