I have heard from workers who are now being contacted personally for their medical bills. We had a binding agreement with Evergreen Pulp for health coverage through November 2008 with Jeff Pauli's Western Self Insurance Services (WSIS). In October we were offered the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (COBRA) which we could individually purchase to cover ourselves and our families. Well that Cobra "Act" does not apply to workers whose company disbands it's health program, which Evergreen did.
The AWPPW local 49 put a lien on Evergreen assests for numerous violations and held the potential sale to a new owner, Freshwater Pulp in limbo. Our standing committee met with Freshwater Representative Bob Simpson and ex-CEO David Tsang of Evergreen to come to a resolution so the sale could go through escrow. An agreement was made for wages and medical debts to be covered. Only problem is, no one handed over a check. It seems that it was contingent over the mill starting up and generating money, which may never happen.
Bottom line. The $300,000 of medical debt has risen to over $400,000 with no end in sight because of processing delays by medical billers. People are being charged for bills that happened nearly a year ago! They should have been processed and paid off long before Evergreen closed.
This issue is putting some workers in a very precarious financial position. Some may have to file bankruptcy or file for some sort of hardship because they are out of work. This issue just seems to be getting worse and worse.
Lee and Man/Evergreen/Worthy Pick seems to have been able to do poor business practices on American soil with impunity. Even counsel for the Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District said it was futile for the district to go after monies owed. (I had publicly requested the board to consider legal action.) Shouldn't some arm on the legislative side do some action so Chinese investors can't just come onto American soil and extract our natural resources? (Water, wood chips and pulp fiber) And then leave a loyal workforce in total disarray? This is criminal I tell you!
What are those Humboldt Bay Firefighters doing in Cooper Gulch? - (Photos: HBF) "Humboldt Bay Fire personnel helping with invasive plant removal and restoration of native plants in the Cooper Gulch Watershed today.
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