"There's that small, still voice inside all of us that just kicks in sometimes," she said. "I think it's your God-given conscience. Somebody had to help, so I did. I listened to the voice this time."
Having listened, she filed a handwritten federal lawsuit to force Corbin to give her the insurance plan's annual report. She got online and educated herself about state and federal laws. After the union told her about the Trade Adjustment Act retraining money, she downloaded the application form, filled it out and sent it in.
"Trying to get help was like running into brick walls everywhere you turned," she said.
She learned to speak in public. "She'll say, 'Now, don't let me cuss,'" said Russell. "She gets so wound up."
She doesn't want to be called the union president. "I'm not doing this because of the union. I'm doing this for these women," she said.
She studies her Bible with her family. "Before we started, I probably wouldn't have jumped into this," she said. "But when it says to help your neighbor, it means help your neighbor."
Her fellow seamstresses credit her for the fact that they got federal Trade Adjustment Act retraining money for workers displaced by foreign competition.
As of this month, 65 former Corbin employees had enrolled in retraining programs. "We've got a whole bunch at Huntington Junior College for medical assistant," Maynor said. "Three in LPN school, physical therapy assistant, heavy equipment operator, office worker, truck driver, radiology, pharmacy technician."
She is still trying to find ways to deflect lawsuits and collection agencies. Last week, Rockefeller introduced a bill to let employees recover more from a company bankruptcy.
Maynor doubts there will be much to divide in the Corbin bankruptcy. Bank One acquired a large part of Corbin's assets just before Corbin declared bankruptcy, she said, pulling out papers to prove it.
She helped the seamstresses file claims in the bankruptcy. She helped find a lawyer who filed a class-action civil suit on their behalf against David Corbin, former company president and Acordia National, which processed claims for the company.
Now she is researching hospital billing. She was startled recently when a hospital cut a seamstress's bill drastically in exchange for a lump-sum payment. "It was their life savings," she said. "But the hospital can't take their home now."
She has learned that hospitals often cut deals and sometimes drop bills, especially when a person becomes eligible for charity care, and especially when they are represented by a lawyer.
She has even found a way to get paid for this kind of work. She used her TAA retraining money to enroll in a two-year program at Marshall to become a paralegal. Her federal expense money will run out before it finished, but she says she'll worry about that later.
"I've developed a passion for justice," she said. "I've learned that laws can be on the books, but it's people who get them enforced."
This is a follow-up to a Sunday Gazette-Mail story about the hazards of self-funded health insurance and the Corbin Ltd. employees who were saddled with $2 million in medical debts the company plan did not pay. That story can be found at http://www.sundaygazettemail.com.
To contact staff writer Kate Long, use e-mail or call 347-1798.