A $178.6 million settlement involving AK Steel Corp. has been approved by a federal judge in Ohio. About 3,000 retired workers from an AK Steel plant in western Pennsylvania or their spouses will continue to receive medical benefits under the settlement. Workers who retired from the Butler Works before 2006 sued last year in response to the Ohio-based steelmaker’s plan to cut some benefits and charge premiums for others in recent years. The workers’ suit contended that violated collective bargaining agreements that promised them company-funded medical benefits during retirement.
The settlement includes $87.6 million AK Steel will spend on benefits through 2014 and $91 million to establish a trust fund that will pay the benefits thereafter, freeing the steelmaker of legacy costs. The settlement piggybacks on case law established in a 2006 lawsuit that settled in 2008 between AK Steel and about 4,900 retirees from its flagship plant in Middletown, Ohio, near Cincinnati. That settlement established a $663 million trust fund, managed by retirees that will continue to pay for their benefits until they die, on which the Butler Works settlement was modeled.
Greg Coleman, of Knoxville, Tennessee, and Mona Lisa Wallace, of Salisbury, North Carolina, filed this lawsuit on behalf of the workers. They did very good work for their clients.
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