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Benefits run out for ex-Allied workers, retirees

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JAMES P. LEUTE
July 2, 2010
— A federal judge’s decision has left about 70 former workers and retirees of Allied Systems in Janesville without company-sponsored health insurance benefits.

Health benefits that former employees and retirees believed would last a lifetime instead ended at the end of the day Wednesday, the same day Atlanta-based Allied’s contract with the Janesville workers expired.


Allied closed its Janesville shipping yard in April, putting about 100 people out of work. For most of its history, the operation handled outbound and inbound shipments of vehicles by both truck and rail. The operation here dwindled when General Motors closed its Janesville plant in late 2008.


United Auto Workers Local 95, which represents Allied’s office and shop employees, learned June 21 the company planned to end health insurance coverage June 30. Union attorneys sought a restraining order to extend coverage until a judge could make a formal ruling.


“After receiving arguments from company and union attorneys, the judge dismissed the request for the restraining order,” said Mike Marcks, Local 95’s first vice president.


Allied has contended that health, life, prescription drug, vision and dental coverage for the employees and retirees were not lifetime benefits.


Marcks said union attorneys are considering other options. But none of them, he said, will happen overnight.


“We’ve had several meetings with the membership, and we encouraged them to get some private health insurance in case this happened,” Marcks said. “Unfortunately, it happened.”


The insurance benefits cut does not affect pensions, which Marcks said are protected by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 and its Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp.



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