PARKERSBURG - The wife of a retiree at the closed Century Aluminum Co. where the company ceased all medical insurance coverage said she's elated the aluminum company CEO got canned.
Karen Gorrell hopes the noise she and the retirees too young for Medicare who lost their coverage was part of the reason Logan Kruger was terminated. The retirees believe the company reneged on its agreement to provide health care insurance, which ended this summer.
"I'm not a mean person, but he's evil," she said.
Gibby Adkins, far left, Ron Dixon and Karen Gorrell at the offices of Century Aluminum in July in Monterrey, Calif., where a stockholders meeting was held. Adkins and Dixon are retirees from the company.
Century Aluminum, based in Monterrey, Calif., on Nov. 15 announced Kruger left the company and its board of directors appointed Michael Bless as acting president and chief executive officer.
The statement said Kruger has also sued the company claiming a breach of contract and wrongful termination.
"The company believes these claims are without merit and intends to vigorously defend itself against them," the statement said.
"We don't know if the noise we're making was the reason for his separation," said Gorrell, whose husband worked at the now-closed plant. "We like to think we had a little part in that."
More than 600 employees were idled when the plant, citing high utility costs, dropping aluminum prices and other expenses, closed in February 2009. Health insurance benefits to the early retirees under 65-years old terminated June 30.
The retirees have taken their case to state and federal representatives. Earlier this year, Sen. Jay. Rockefeller, D-W.Va., wrote a letter to Kruger saying Century was "less than forthcoming" over its dealings with the retirees and the insurance benefit or the restart of the Ravenswood plant.
A conference on the health insurance issue was scheduled for Wednesday with representatives from Rockefeller, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and the federal Department of Health and Human Services, Gorrell said.
"We want the plant to reopen, but we don't want it done on the backs of the retirees," she said.
She hopes with Kruger out of the picture, dealings with the company will improve. He was the company CEO when the insurance was terminated, Gorrell said.
"They need to do the right thing with the retirees," Gorrell said.
"We're hoping that with new leadership they're going to care more about their standing in the community," she said. "Their ethical standing."
Bless has been executive vice president and chief financial officer of Century since January 2006 and will continue to retain that role. Prior to Century, he was the chief financial officer of Rockwell Automation, Inc. and an investment banker at Dillon, Read & Co. for more than 10 years.
"During his tenure at Century, Mike has played a pivotal role in guiding the Company through and out of the financial crisis while demonstrating strong leadership and winning the respect of his peers. His experience makes him an excellent choice to guide the company forward at this juncture," Terence Wilkinson, chairman of the board of directors, said. "The board believes the company is well positioned to succeed and we have great confidence in Mike's abilities and in those of the other members of Century's leadership team."