MAYFIELD, Ky.-The United Steelworkers has condemned Continental Tire North America Inc.´s cutoff of health insurance benefits for nearly 200 laid-off Mayfield employees and their families, but Conti said the affected workers didn´t follow the rules.
The union members were laid off when Conti phased out tire production at the Mayfield facility last year. The USW said they are entitled to health insurance benefits for at least three and as many as 12 months as a result of contractual protections promised by the company in an agreement with the USW and Local 665.
Conti said it continues to provide company-paid health care coverage to laid-off employees in accordance with the terms of its collective bargaining agreement with the USW. However, the tire maker said some workers didn´t submit an application to continue health care coverage within 60 days after they received written notice of their rights, as required by federal law. Their coverage was terminated.
Conti said its third-party administrator, Ceridian, provided the notices to all laid-off Mayfield employees, explaining their rights to continue health care coverage. The firm said this application process was used in several prior layoffs without incident.
The USW called Conti´s action a "blatant violation" of the company´s collective bargaining agreement with the union and said it illustrates the firm´s "lack of a conscience and lack of respect for people."
Conti said it is investigating individual claims regarding health care coverage and will reinstate health care coverage for those who were not provided the opportunity to make a timely election. It said it requested information regarding the individuals who did not submit election forms, but the union failed or refused to respond to these requests.