Canton Repository

October 6, 2004

Steelworkers seek appeal of RTI benefit ruling

Paul Krawzk
By Copley News Service

WASHINGTON — The steelworkers union is appealing a federal court’s denial of early retirement benefits for former employees of defunct Republic Technologies International.

On Friday, a three-judge panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a lower court decision when it ruled that the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. does not have to pay what are called shutdown benefits to up to 2,500 workers who lost their jobs when the Fairlawn, Ohio-based company closed.

“We are going to seek a further challenge,” said David Jury, assistant general counsel of the United Steelworkers of America. The union has not decided whether to ask the full appeals court to review the ruling or whether to appeal directly to the U.S. Supreme Court, he said.

The appeals court and U.S. Supreme Court can choose whether or not to hear an appeal.

Last year, U.S. District Court Judge Peter C. Economus ruled that the pension corporation had to pay shutdown benefits to eligible workers after the agency assumed control of pension plans at bankrupt RTI. The appeals court, however, determined that the federal agency did not have to pay the benefits since it took control of the plans before the company closed.

Jury declined to discuss the grounds for appeal, saying, “that’s something we’ll save for our (legal) papers.”