Middlebury, Vermont - January 5, 2007
About 150 workers were told Friday morning that their jobs at Specialty Filaments here in Middlebury were in jeopardy and that the plant was going to be closed for at least two weeks. The company claimed high debt, soft sales, and a desperate cash flow situation all led to the shut down.
"It's going to impact the community huge. A lot of us have young families, a lot of us are older and going on to retirement with pension questions. But we need some answers, we need some from the company to step up and answer our questions," says Barry Whitney, union spokesman.
A couple dozen of the 150 workers at the plant showed up looking for those answers. They waited all day to find out their fates and hoping to collect what could be their final paycheck.
At around 3:30 this afternoon, the company did hand out paychecks, but there was already a sense of bitterness from laid off workers who thought the waiting game just added more insult to injury.
"I did end up getting my paycheck. The layoff wasn't totally unexpected, it was just the part where they held back paying us for work that we've already done. A layoff, I can go through that, but I've already done the work and if you we're going to pay me for it, why did I bother to come," says Thomas Wright.
And even though paychecks were handed out, many questions remain. According to employees, word on health insurance coverage, pensions, and the fate of the plant is still up in the air.
"We just need to know. We don't want to play no games. This is our livelihood, this is 150 union employees out of work," says Patrick Bushey.
In a memo to employees, the company said it did file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Friday, but in a press release issued late Friday afternoon, the company says it has not filed for Chapter 11 protection. They are trying to sell the company within a week. If they are not able to do so, it is likely that the plant will close for good, and that all employees will lose their jobs for good.
Alex Martin - Channel 3 News