JOHN ROBBINS/Bullet News
FORT ERIE – Almost a week after a Fort Erie printing plant was shuttered permanently, throwing more than 100 people out of work without severance payments to cushion the blow, federal and provincial politicians have adopted a wait-and-see approach.
Niagara Falls MPP Kim Craitor says he has been in continuous contract with the union representing the former employees at Vertis Communications in Stevensville.
Craitor has offered to assist the union in any way he can, but as of Monday he had received no formal request from the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union.
Last Wednesday, company officials workers were called to a meeting and 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.
Union officials immediately 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,” Dan Wickson, president of CEP Local 425G, said in a statement th following day.
“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.
CEP is 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.
It’s unclear what, if anything, can be done to aid the workers, who were told there would be no severance paymwents made.
In an email Monday, Niagara Falls Conservative MP and Justice Minister Rob Nicholson said he’s keeping a close ye on developments, but would not say if federal officials have been asked to intervene or investigate the circumstances surrounding the closure.
“This was apparently a business decision taken by the company,” Nicholson told Bullet News. “I will continue to monitor the situation.”