Retired steelworkers’ picnic forum for camaraderie, issues updates

FOLLANSBEE – A group of retired steelworkers learned of issues affecting them while enjoying some camaraderie at a June 12 picnic at Follansbee Park.

Members of the Tri-Valley Weirton Chapter of the Steelworkers Organization of Active Retirees and their guests heard from representatives of United Steelworkers Local 2911, C.H.A.N.G.E. Inc., Highmark Inc. and the Silver Sneakers program.

USW Local 2911 President Mark Glyptis joined John Balzano, the chapter’s president, in encouraging attendees to sign a petition supporting efforts by the Alliance for American Manufacturing to seek enforcement against subsidized foreign steel used in steel pipes for extracting oil and natural gas.

The organization has filed a case with the U.S. Department of Commerce alleging South Korea and several other countries have violated international trade laws in order to export to the U.S. steel that at prices far below the market value.

A decision on the matter is expected this month.

Judy Raveaux, executive director of C.H.A.N.G.E. Inc., told the group the Weirton-based community action agency helped many retirees to weigh their health care options under the Affordable Care Act through a two-day workshop at the union hall and another one is planned for October.

The retired steelworkers also heard from Sandy Gaffney, a district representative with Highmark Inc., and Bob Spencer, a nurse practitioner with its Matrix Medicare Network.

Spencer said the network offers an in-home health evaluation to help Highmark clients make healthy choices in their lives.

Janelle St. Martin, coordinator and instructor for Healthways SilverSneakers program, said exercise classes offered through the program have helped many to reduce chronic pain as well as improve their range of motion, agility, balance and coordination.

She noted Silver Sneakers courses are offered locally at the Millsop Community Center and Cindy’s Fusion Fitness.

Follansbee City Manager John DeStefano also was on hand to welcome the group.

The picnic served to introduce potential new members to SOAR, which meets quarterly and is planning some community service projects. The group is no longer limited to retired steelworkers but may include people who support the steel industry, and first-year dues are being waived for new members for a limited time.

For information and membership applications, call Balzano at (304) 748-8080.