Milton company closes leaving dozens of workers in limbo

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MILTON, Vt. (WCAX) Thirty Vermonters are out of a job after Bertek Label & Card Solutions in Milton closed its door for the last time Monday.

Those former employees did not want to go on camera, worried that it might hurt their chances of finding another job. For others, the shock and pain were too fresh.

When employees at Bertek got called into a meeting Monday afternoon, they were given a letter from the president of their parent company. Identification Multi Solutions, an Eastern Canadian packaging company, told employees they'd get paid for work done on Feb. 25, the last day before the company turned the lights off for good.

Abigail Laplant, an employee now out of a job, said she was too emotional to speak with on camera, but she allowed us to share her messages.

"We all were upset," Laplant said. "A lot of people left so upset and not knowing. There are people on vacation not knowing. It was definitely unfair."

Laplant said the company was not respectful and trustworthy for the amount of effort many employees gave.

General Counsel Dirk Anderson at the Vermont Department of Labor says companies may not be required to give employees or the state, advance notice before closing.

A business must employ 50 or more people over a 90-day period before it's required to notify the secretary of commerce and the commissioner of labor of a shutdown. Employees at Bertek say around 30 people worked there, so this rule didn't apply.

From there, employers are only required to offer health insurance but not subsidize it; however, there are safeguards for employees.

"They should apply for unemployment insurance through the Department of Labor," Anderson said.

Out-of-work Vermonters get a 57 percent wage replacement, up to $498 a week for up to 26 weeks.

Anderson says career resource centers can help with job training and searches.

"The Department of Labor will provide a rapid response, where representatives of the department will meet with the employees as a group and just explain all their rights," Anderson said.

Anderson adds that the Vermont unemployment rate is at a historic low of 2.8 percent.

"So anyone with demonstrative job skills stands a pretty good chance of getting re-employed fairly quickly," Anderson said.

WCAX News reached out to Bertek and their parent company but did not get a response from either before this story was published.