Benefits for laid-off Maytag workers uncertain

Date July 09, 2004
Section(s) Local News
Brief  
 
Benefits for laid-off Maytag workers uncertain

NEWTON (AP) — About 400 workers laid off before the strike at Maytag Corp. have found their benefit status to be uncertain.

“There are a lot of very unhappy people down here,” said Jeff Clark, one of the laid-off workers. “It’s very confusing.”

Before the strike, Clark was receiving $220 each week after taxes in unemployment benefits. When he was laid off in February, he said, Maytag promised him and other laid-off workers 10 months of health coverage.

Now, Clark said he and other laid-off workers are worried their benefits will not be reinstated.

When 1,525 production workers went on strike at Maytag on June 10, the company asked about 400 laid-off union members to contact the company to declare themselves on strike or available for work.

All, or nearly all, told the company they were on strike, too.

Members of United Auto Workers Local 997 ratified a new contract last week. Production workers returned to their jobs Tuesday.

About 250 to 300 laid-off union members also showed up, expecting, at the least, that they would be told they were still on layoff.

Instead, Maytag told the workers they were considered to be “unreinstated strikers,” said Tammy Heaverlo, another laid-off worker.

Laid-off workers went to the UAW union hall, where Local President Pat Teed told them he believed they were still on layoff and that a grievance would be filed if their benefits were not reinstated.

Workers were told union officials planned to meet with the company this week and would have more information then.

Clark, who is married and has two children, said a grievance could take up to two years to resolve. In the meantime, he worries.

“Can I go to the doctor if somebody gets hurt?” he said.

Maytag spokeswoman Lynne Dragomier said the company was not going to comment further on the issue.

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