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Monday, January 21, 2013

Sudden closure of Canada’s only Vertis plant leaves 100 workers seeking compensation, 3 U.S. closures to follow


Suddenly last week, the only Canadian plant owned by Vertis Holdings Inc. was shut down in Fort Erie, Ontario, leaving about 100 staff without jobs or the advance notice, termination, and severance required under Canadian law.  The closure occurred simultaneously with last week’s completion of the acquisition of most of Vertis’s assets by Quad/Graphics (both American companies), a process that began last October in which Vertis is reported to have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection to facilitate the sale (after a similar filing only two years previously).  The Fort Erie plant is among at least four Vertis facilities that were not included in the purchase.

Jim Thibert, general manager of the Fort Erie Economic Development and Tourism Corporation, tells the Fort Erie Times that Quad Graphics took over operations at the now defunct plant last year but does not find it feasible to keep the Canadian location open.  "They don't want a plant in Fort Erie because they have nothing to do with Canada," he says.

In a media release, Dan Wickson, president of Communications, Energy and Paperworks Union of Canada (CEP)  Local 425-G, which represents the Vertis employees, says many of them have worked for the company for most of their lives.  The release says CEP is currently in discussions with legal counsel, the Town of Fort Erie and its development agency, and the local Member of Provincial Parliament while the union decides on its next move.  Since Vertis is based in the U.S.A., Wickson predicts in the Fort Erie Times that employees will likely have to file a claim for their severance and termination pay in a U.S. bankruptcy court.

Quad/Graphics director of corporate communications Claire Ho tells PrintCan that U.S. facilities also left out of the Quad/Graphics transaction that are slated to close in the next 60 to 90 days are located in Dallas, Texas; Medina, Ohio; and North Brunswick, New Jersey.
Any thoughts or further predictions regarding fiscal, legal, and moral responsibility and outcomes in this matter?


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