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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Ex-Vertis workers end Fort Erie picket line but continue fight for compensation

Bullet News Niagara reports that last week former employees of the closed Vertis Communications plant in Fort Erie, Ontario, stopped picketing outside the plant's front gates, since all the equipment has now been removed, and the few remaining employees working during the shutdown were let go on April 30.  

But the nearly 100 terminated workers are still continuing their fight for the approximately $2.7 million (roughly $27,000 each) they claim is owed to them since they were terminated without prior notice, termination pay, or severance in January, when the plant was closed.  

The closure occurred after Quad/Graphics Inc. purchased most of the assets of Vertis in October 2012, but not the Fort Erie facility.

The ex-workers are represented by the Communications, Energy and Paperworks Union of Canada (CEP).  

Through their union, the workers have tried to get at least some compensation from the Wage Income Protection Fund, a federal program meant to provide a maximum of $3,640 to Canadian workers caught up in similar cases.  But although they qualify for the fund, their claim remains unprocessed, because of a technicality:  Vertis apparently did not file for bankruptcy in Canada but rather had a Canadian court recognize the U.S. bankruptcy the company filed in December 2011.  

Rumour also has it that one of the company's former customers, a large Canadian newspaper chain that still owes the company about $2 million, is withholding payment in hopes of finding a legal means to redirect the money to the workers instead of the receiver for the company.  

Please let me know if you have any more news about recent developments.

Current news reports: 
http://www.bulletnewsniagara.ca/2013/05/06/updated-former-vertis-workers-denied-severance-end-plant-gate-picketing-but-the-fights-not-over-yet/  
http://printaction.com/News/20130507-vertis-picketing.html  

Background to this story:
http://vicg8.blogspot.ca/2013/03/ex-vertis-workers-in-fort-erie-post.html 
http://vicg8.blogspot.ca/2013/03/vertis-communications-files-for.html