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Local Government Steps In As Sparrows Point Workers Face Losing Health Benefits

SPARROWS POINT, Md. (WJZ)—The push is on to deliver relief to nearly 2,000 Marylanders losing their jobs at Sparrows Point. Steel mill owner RG Steel has filed bankruptcy.

Political reporter Pat Warren explains some help is on the way.

The Department of Labor tosses workers a lifeboat, but what Sparrows Point needs is a rescue.

“It keeps going downhill, and nobody knows basically what they’re doing, what they’re going to do,” said Jim Harvey, retired Sparrows Point worker.

Shawn and Thomas Harvey come from a steel working family. Their grandfather Jim retired from Sparrows Point, and nearly everyone in their Edgemere neighborhood has connections to the plant.

“I feel for them ’cause I don’t know how they’re going to make it,” Jim Harvey said.

They’re going to lose their health benefits on Aug. 31 in a settlement agreement between mill owner RG Steel and the United Steelworkers Union. But Senators Ben Cardin and Barbara Mikulski have secured assistance for eligible employees, And state and county governments are pitching in.

“It’s bad. I guess we’re hoping for the best and planning for the worst,” said union leader Joe Rosel.

“I don’t know,” said Jim Harvey, who just by the number of prescriptions his family needs to fill each month, knows how critical those benefits are.

Rosel holds on to hope for a buyer.

“I work every day to try to find a new owner that can reopen the plant, but I also have to make sure that our members have the services they can have to continue their health care and to continue on as we go through this tough time,” Rosel said.

The union isn’t ready to throw in the towel, but workers are already looking for other jobs.

RG Steel closed the plant after filing bankruptcy in May.

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