United Steel, Paper, Forestry, Rubber, Mfg. Energy, Allied Indus. & Serv. Workers Int'l Union v. Kelsey-Hayes Co., No. 13-1717 (6th Cir. 2014)Annotate this Case
Plaintiffs worked until 2006, when the plant closed, and retired under a collective bargaining agreement (CBA); that provided that the employer would provide health insurance, either through a self-insured plan or under a group insurance policy and identified the employer’s contribution to the premium. The CBAs provided that the coverage an employee had at the time of retirement or termination at age 65 or older other than a discharge for cause “shall be continued thereafter provided that suitable arrangements for such continuation can be made… In the event… benefits … [are] not practicable … the Company in agreement with the Union will provide new benefits and/or coverages as closely related as possible and of equivalent value." In 2011 TRW (the employer’s successor) stated that it would discontinue group health care coverage beginning in 2012, but would be providing “Health Reimbursement Accounts” (HRAs) and would make a one-time contribution of $15,000 for each eligible retiree and eligible spouse in 2012, and in 2013, would provide a $4,800 credit to the HRAs for each eligible party. The HRAs shifted risk, and potentially costs, to plaintiffs. TRW did not commit to funding the HRAs beyond 2013. Plaintiffs sued, claiming that the change breached the CBAs, in violation of the Labor-Management Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. 185, and the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, 29 U.S.C. 1001. The district court certified a class and granted summary judgment, ruling that the CBAs established a commitment to lifetime health care benefits. The Sixth Circuit affirmed
The court issued a subsequent related opinion or order on July 28, 2015.