RAVENSWOOD, W.Va. — A representative of the Century Aluminum retirees who spent Monday picketing outside of the Jackson County facility said those retirees were at the plant’s Ravenswood entrance with a message.
“We are still out here uninsured and Century still has not stepped up to the plate and we, certainly, have not given up,” said Karen Gorrell.
Her husband worked at the Century Aluminum plant for three decades before it closed in 2009. She and the other retirees and their families later reached a settlement agreement with the company on health care benefits which will only be restored when operations begin again at the plant.
The company had originally targeted the fall of 2012 for the restart — pending the outcomes of separate deals with other entities , including lawmakers and the state Public Service Commission – but, two years later, Century’s future is still unclear.
Michael Bless, Century president and chief executive officer, did address the Jackson County facility in a February statement about the company’s earnings. That report showed a $40 million loss for the company in 2013.
“We remain absolutely and resolutely committed to reopening our smelter at Ravenswood, West Virginia and are working hard on a number of processes to this end,” Bless said at that time.
But, Gorrell said, such promises are no longer good enough.
“I think it’s about time the state says, ‘Look, we’re putting a deadline on these deals. We’re going to put a deadline on the legislation. We’re going to put a final date and, if you don’t act within that period of time, this is all off the table,’” she said.
“And Century ought to have to start it up, sell it or shut it down and clean it up.”