On yesterday’s post about a (non)answer from the White House in response to my letter about Social Security, Jan Adams, Letha, Frank Paynter and Linda all noted that this is an example of what the Occupy movement is about and that we elders need to do some occupying.
As serendipity sometimes provides (hat tip to Margie), on the same day at Campaign for America’s Future, Leo Gerard wrote about the dozen elders, “men and women in their 60s, 70s and even 80s” who have been occupying a median strip in front of a closed Century Aluminum plant in Ravenswood, West Virginia since mid-December.
”In tents and under tarps, a small group stays overnight, despite hypertension, arthritis and other old age ailments,” writes Gerard…
“These vulnerable people expose themselves to weather extremes although some have no health insurance at all. Century cancelled it. That’s why they’re occupying Century.”
Here is a photo of the some of these occupiers that I copied from their Facebook page.
The Ravenswood plant was shut down in February 2009, putting 650 employees out of work. A comfort, however, was the company’s promise through all the years of their toil that they would receive lifelong health coverage would be paid for by the company. Gerard explains what happened next [emphasis is mine]:
”Nine months after the shutdown, [Century Aluminum] announced it would terminate as of June 1, 2010 health benefits for retirees eligible for Medicare. Then on Nov. 1, 2010, Century told its retirees who weren’t yet eligible for Medicare that it would stop paying for their coverage as of Jan. 1, 2011.”
The recently fired CEO of Century Aluminum was paid $4.9 million in 2010 and given $6.2 million to leave the company last November. (The greed of the one percent never ends; he is suing for $20 million more.) But the company is still fighting the retirees over payment for the health coverage they were promised.
In an odd move, Century Aluminum has provided port-o-potties for the elder occupy protesters; I have no idea what to say about that. You can read of other developments in this story here.
Temperatures in Ravenswood were 39F overnight and expected to be 54F today so at least the weather is helping. The West Virginia governor and the state’s senators are supporting the elder occupiers but there has been no resolution and I know it must be physically hard – I’m not sure I could be out there next to a highway day in and day out.
Here is the 2 January Facebook announcement about one of the occupier’s health:
“A very sad day at Occupy Century yesterday. One of our champions, Sonny Hinzman, was taken to the hospital with indications of a stroke. Please keep him in your prayers.
“Sonny had no co insurance because it was costing him $1700.00 a month to insure just his wife and daughter with COBRA. It was cost prohibitive for him to include himself. This is why we will never give up and endure whatever weather is thrown at us! This is murder without a gun!”
You might want to stop by the Facebook page to offer some encouragement.
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Terry Hamburg: Cruisin’