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Ex-workers get paid next week, then ...?

News Journal - Linda Martz

MANSFIELD — U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown said Friday he urged a bankruptcy consultant to pay attention to the interests of 300 Archway workers suddenly unemployed after the Ashland plant closed last weekend.

Brown said he talked to Jeffrey Granger of Focus Management Group. Granger, a consultant in the bankruptcy, said employees will receive pay next week for their final days of work.

“He said that will absolutely happen. The sick leave and vacation, it’s not so clear what will happen there,” Brown said. “I urged him to look out for the interests of the workers.

“He said the U.S. plants are closed permanently, and the Canadian plants are suspended, but will reopen. He said they are more profitable, I don’t know why.”

Archway and Mother’s Cake and Cookies, which filed for joint bankruptcy in the state of Delaware this week, were in court Friday and will return next week, the Senator said.

Brown said he was told Archway had been losing money for some time. Fuel costs and the rising price of ingredients only added to the problem.

“Most of their sales are in the West. He said finally they just gave up,” Brown said.

Some Archway employees have received queries from a New York law firm, Outten and Golden LLP, regarding a possible lawsuit under the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act.

The WARN Act, which became law in 1988, required companies to give 60 days’ notice of a plant closing or layoff.

The federal Government Accountability Office estimates 24 percent of all layoffs in the U.S. are subject to WARN. Brown said he’s unclear if Archway should have given 60 days’ notice, under WARN.

“I don’t know enough about this situation,” he said.

In July, Brown, joined by Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton, introduced the Federal Oversight, Reform and Enforcement of the WARN ACT (FOREWARN). The bill would reduce the minimum mass layoff figure from 50 to 25, and the employer size from 100 to 50 employees. It would also lengthen the notification period from 60 to 90 days.

“The big thing is that companies couldn’t lay off 25 to 49 employees (without prior warning) and get away with it,” Brown said. “Our new bill would not let companies weasel out of it.”

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