EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSCENTURY BILL PASSES
from Eyewitness News Online
Another Hurdle Cleared To Re-open Century Plant; Tax Break Passed
Reported by: Leslie Rubin
Web Producer: Leslie Rubin
Reported: Mar. 16, 2012 9:11 PM EDT
Updated: Mar. 18, 2012 10:32 PM EDT
Charleston , Kanawha County , West Virginia
Another hurdle cleared, and another step toward getting Century Aluminum's doors back open.
It's been a week filled with good news for Century Aluminum retirees. First, they accepted a deal to get their heath-care back. Now, a tax break is on the table to get the plant back in business.
"It's the piece that goes into the puzzle, and we're getting more pieces put into that puzzle before it's beginning to look like a completed big picture," explains Randy Moore of the United Steel Workers of WV.
On Friday, during a special session called by Governor Earl Ray Tomblin, legislators passed a bill that would provide a $20 million a year tax break for up to ten years for the idled plant. Century has said the bill was essential to re-open and put laid off workers back to work.
"This is a scenario that really creates a win, win, win scenario for all the entities that are involved," explains Del. Mitch Carmichael, R-Jackson.
The first piece of the puzzle was put into place Thursday night when retirees voted on a deal that partially restored their health benefits.
"We're being cautious but I can't hide the excitement that we're a step closer," says Karen Gorrell. She's lead the battle for retirees to get their health-care back.
They're cautious because there are still hurdles to be cleared. A labor agreement still needs to be ironed out.
"A lot of people don't understand. All of this has to take place and has to fall into place or all of this work has been for nothing."
If the plant re-opens, Century has said they'll employ 450 workers initially and bring in more later.
"Hot metal pour, that's what it's hinged on. We've got to get there before we can start the payment into the retirees," says Moore.
"There won't be big enough words to explain the happiness the day it's done. The day we can say, 'we're going to get our healthcare back,'" says Gorrell.
The bill now goes to the desk of the governor.
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