Century retirees feel betrayed by decision
Century Aluminum retirees say they feel betrayed over the company's decision not to restart its Ravenswood smelter despite approval of a special power rate by the state Public Service Commission.
"We are sorry to say that even though we have faced many roadblocks along the way, that Century's recent decision felt like a knockout punch," retiree spokeswoman Karen Gorrell said in a statement Thursday evening.
"Even though nothing Century would do should shock us, we must say that we were totally caught off guard," Gorrell said.
Century announced earlier this week it would not be able to restart the plant under the special power rate regulators handed down last week.
That plan, which followed months of testimony and legal filings before the PSC, granted Century rates that were in line with those it had sought. But the PSC required Century to bear all risk for the plan, rather than shifting some potential risks to other Appalachian Power ratepayers.
Century's retirees, who lost their company-provided health care coverage last year, carefully monitored the PSC proceedings.
Earlier this year, the retirees negotiated a deal with the company for a partial restoration of benefits. It was contingent on a restart of the plant.
No restart means no benefits for retirees.
Gorrell said retirees now feel betrayed.
"We have all rallied around Century and their new leadership team hoping that if we were all united for a common purpose - each willing to sacrifice a little, and willing to meet in the middle on common ground - that we would achieve that fairy tale outcome that we all have strived so hard to accomplish," she said.
"It is impossible to reason why Century would turn their backs on all who have worked so tremendously hard to help them," Gorrell said. "Shame on Century Aluminum."
She said it seems to be a trend among Century executives.
"They have dangled health care benefits and restoration of lost jobs in front of the retirees and the state like a piece of meat - just beyond our reach," Gorrell said.
"Maybe we should encourage them to sell the facility to someone that truly wants to run it, and to an owner that would recognize a helping hand when it is extended," she said.
Despite feeling betrayed, Gorrell said retirees keep fighting.
"We are devastated but not defeated," she said. "We will never give up the fight to have our benefits reinstated."
Contact writer Jared Hunt at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-5148.