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TexLaw
TexLaw, Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 4430
Experience:  Contracts, Wrongful termination and discrimination
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I am a retired person who worked

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I am a retired person who worked for a company call which was located in Toms River NJ.I worked there for over 38 years and was president of local 8-562 which negotiated the last contract with company. in that contract there was agreement on additional health Insurance benefits, namely Horizon PPO Blue card which most retirees moved into. The Plant closed down at the end of 1996 and until this year the medical plans were never changed. Our contract had very strong language that employees retireing in good faith would be insured with the plans that were in existance for life, inaddition there was language that the company could change plans as long as they were equal or better than the old plan. The Toms River Site was aquired by BASF about 3-4 years ago for all assets and liabilities. This year for the first time BASF changed the plans which are far inferior to what we had and what we thought we were entitled to during the negotiations process. My question is, Does a company such as BASF have a right to just change our plans where they acquired the plant for all assets and liabilities (Medical and perscriptions). Is there anything we can do? Our International Union (the Oil, Chemical and atomic Workers Union) has been aquired by the United Stell Workers Union. The over 244 employees who are retired and living on a fixed income will have to shell out thousands of dollars that just last year was paid for. What can we Do? Thank you for your help John XXXX, XXX-XXX-XXXX, [email protected] XXXXXX

Hi,

Thank you for your question.

A union contract is binding on the employer. If the employer breaches the contract in any form, the employees may all sue. In this situation, you stated that Ciba. In 1996, Ciba entered a merger to form Novartis. And at some point after that Novartis sold the Toms River plant.

What is interesting to me is that generally when a facility is sold, the union contracts that belong to the workers there (in terms of pension/retirement obligations) are not always sold. But in this circumstance it appears that is was part of the sale.

That being said, the contract is a living document which can be changed through mutual agreement. If the union agreed to the change in the contract, then it could result in the change in your health insurance benefits as it would affect those of the retired workers as well. However, if the union did not agree to this, then BASF is indeed breaching the contract and can be sued for it.

Have you contacted United Steel Workers to inquire into the reasons for the change in benefits?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.


I am in the process of sending Stell Workers Union a copy of our contract and other information inregards XXXXX XXXXX for the past 4 years. Understand that the plant was basicily closed for the past 15 years except to remeadiate the site. Basf aquired the assets and liabilities to the best of my knowledge. would it be in your scope to check whether or not this actually occurred. thank you

The real question is whether the information is public and has been published. I'll dig around and see what I can find our for you.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

OK, as I was told by a good friend who reasearched this, that the BASF aquiring the toms River site was for all assets and liabilities.

I'm still searching for information. Please be patient and I will be back with you shortly. Please do not respond.
Toms River Plant was a Superfund site. I hope you haven't had any illnesses related to any of the pollution there.

It appears that BASF did in fact purchase the entirety of the Ciba Geigy business, not just its assets, so any lawsuit would be against BASF.

However, first things first. Before you can file a lawsuit on a union contract you have to exhaust your administrative remedies. That means you need to contact your Union representative and file a claim under the union contract against BASF. BASF's purchase would likely include responsibility for the union contract.

Please let me know if you have further questions. Please also consider rating my answer positively so that I may be compensated by the website for my time spent on your question.

Thanks,
ZDN
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