JOHN ROBBINS/Bullet News
More than 100 employees of a Fort Erie printing plant are out of work today.
On Wednesday, workers at Vertis Communications in Stevensville were told the plant is closing effective immediately.
The move comes after the assets of its U.S.-parent company was sold through bankruptcy proceedings to another American firm, Quad Graphics.
That company did not purchase the Fort Erie facility, which was previously known as American Color Graphics.
Niagara Falls MPP Kim Craitor, who participated in a conference call Wednesday afternoon with union and Town of Fort Erie officials, says employees were told by the company they won’t be getting vacation or severance pay.
“I’m pissed right off about how they did this to employees,” said Craitor. “They’re going to get zero.”
A spokesperson for Vertis could not be reached for comment late Wednesday.
Claire Ho, a spokeswoman for Quad Graphics, confirmed the Fort Erie plant is not part of the acquisition by that company.
Ho said the acquisition, which was completed Wednesday, was structured as an asset purchase. Quad Graphics committed to purchasing most, but not all, of the assets of Vertis Communications.
“Not included in the transaction was the Stevensville facility,” Ho said.
Jim Thibert, general manager of the Fort Erie Economic Development and Tourism Corp., said the he and town had officials had been monitoring the situation since the fall while bankruptcy proceedings in the U.S. were underway.
There will be further discussions with union and government officials in the coming days to attempt to determine the status of the assets and what if any recourse there is to assist the employees, he said.
Unionized workers at the plant are represented by the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada.
Union officials decried the closure, urging the company to live up to its “legal and moral obligations.”
“A company does not have the right to shut down without notice or compensation for the employees that have worked for them, many for most of their lives,” said Dan Wickson, president of CEP Local 425G.
“The union is demanding that the company pay its legal and moral obligations to these long-standing employees who have built the company over decades,” added Kim Ginter, CEP vice-president for the Ontario region.
CEPis currently in discussions with legal counsel, the Town of Fort Erie and its development agency as well as the local Member of Provincial Parliament, union officials said.