Mon Valley group helps retired steelworkers
By Emma Jene Lelik
Published: Friday, July 26, 2013, 6:57 p.m.
They are two men on a mission.
Their aim is to alert former fellow retired steelworkers of help available to them.
“Most of the guys who worked at the former Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel plants in Monessen and Allenport are in their late 70s and 80s now and may not be aware of some of their rights – particularly in the medical field,” Gerald “Galvie” Gardner said.
Gardner is president and Richard Senko, vice president, of an organization dedicated to assisting retired steelworkers.
Steelworkers Organization of Active Retirees (SOAR) meets once a moth at the Allenport Fire Hall and is open to all former steelworkers and their spouses.
The next meeting will be held 1 p.m. Aug. 19.
“We would advise the steelworkers to not pay any medical bills until they check with us,” Gardner said.
He explained an insurance representative is present at every meeting and through her intervention, “has saved us thousands of dollars.”
Gardner and Senko stated recent examples – without revealing identification.
“A gentleman from Fairhope got a $500 bill. He brought the bill to the meeting and the insurance rep saved him the full amount.
“A man from Perryopolis got a bill for $350 and after it was straightened out, he only had to meet a $20 co-pay.”
Gardner emphasized SOAR is not a social club.
“We are an arm of the International Steelworkers Union. There are SOAR groups all over the United States and Canada,” he said.
He emphasized that spouses should come to the meetings also, “so they understand what goes on with their own benefits.”
“Since the local mill changed hands so many times, folks don't know who to contact with questions,” Senko added. “We can help.”
To make the sessions more interesting, speakers who give valuable information to retirees are scheduled.
“They learn about safety issues, education, health and other facts,” Gardner said. “We try to make the meetings both interesting and helpful.”
Oh, yes, there is one social a year! The group celebrates Christmas with a party.
Emma Jene Lelik is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.
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