An attorney for the United Steelworkers union said yesterday that it will be at least six months before Continental Can Co. workers who were illegally denied pensions, including about 300 in Baltimore, can collect some of the $415 million settlement reached this week.
Robert Plotkin, a Chicago attorney who helped the Steelworkers win an eight-year legal battle against the former owners of the can-making company, said court and union officials will start meeting today to decide how to reimburse more than 3,000 workers.
Mr. Plotkin said his staff has the names of thousands of workers who
might be eligible for lump-sum payments but that he is looking for others who might have worked for Continental Can and were illegally laid off to deny them pension eligibility.
In addition, Mr. Plotkin said, widows and other dependents of former Continental Can workers might also be entitled to one of the lump-sum payments.
Those who think they might be eligible can call his office toll free at (800) 950-3130, he said.
The settlement with Peter Kiewit Sons Inc., based in Omaha, Neb., is the largest payout for a violation of federal pension laws, Steelworkers officials said.
Kiewit, which purchased the company in 1984, sold most of Continental Can to the Philadelphia-based Crown Cork & Seal Co. late last year.
In 1989, a federal judge in New Jersey found that Continental Can had violated federal law in the late 1970s and early 1980s by developing and running a sophisticated computer program that shut down plants whenever too many workers were about to become vested in the company's pension plan.
In a written statement released yesterday, Kiewit noted that the violations occurred before the company purchased Continental Can.
Kiewit said Continental's remaining assets "exceed the amount needed to cover the settlement amount."