At 7:00am Wednesday morning, several angry and frustrated retired Stelco workers boarded a bus that took them to a Toronto courtroom, where they will demand to get their health benefits back. Coverage for prescription drugs and dental care was suspended back in October 2015 after US Steel Canada claimed they would go bankrupt if they did not get rid of those benefits.
On Wednesday, Stelco retirees and Local 1005 union members will argue that the company is in a good financial standing and can afford to pay workers their deserved benefits. Gary Howe, President , United Steelworkers Union of America, Local 1005 , spoke this morning saying: “These workers have worked long and hard to get their benefits and the company can well afford to pay for them right now.”
The union says when the benefits ended, they received panicked phone calls from members who suddenly could not pay for their prescriptions or finish necessary medical treatments.
“We gave up real money to get benefits, and now, at a stroke of a pen, the Supreme Justice decides, ‘we don’t have to give them any money, we’ll just write it off’. How does that happen?”, says one upset former Stelco employee.
The union also says that many of the retirees experience severe medical conditions and industrial illnesses as a result of working in a hazardous environment for so many years, and then therefore, receiving health benefits are extremely important.