On Dec. 11, 2011, the 136 workers of Rolf’s Patisserie in Lincolnwood, Ill., were unceremoniously fired without even a day’s warning. They were paid their final checks four days later–only to have them bounce.
Rolf’s workers began organizing with Arise Chicago to demand that their former boss, Lloyd Culbertson, pay them what they are owed under the law: their final checks and 60 days severance pay, the latter of which is guaranteed to them under the federal WARN Act.
Yesterday, Rolf’s workers gathered to announce a partial victory. After organizing to pressure Culbertson to pay them what they are owed, workers have begun to receive the payment for their final bounced checks and their accrued vacation pay. The fees they accrued at currency exchanges and banks, however, remain unpaid; more importantly, they still have not received their WARN Act pay. Rolf’s workers announced that they remain committed to fighting for all the pay owed them under the law.
Footage from the press conference:
For pictures, visit our Flickr page.
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Nearly 80 Rolf’s workers gathered in the shadow of their former employer to denounce the company’s abrupt and unexpected mass firing, and for stealing workers’ final paychecks. They announced the filing of a class-action lawsuit against Rolf’s president Lloyd Culbertson, charging that their unannounced terminations are in violation of the WARN Act.
Rolf’s workers were told on Dec. 10th that their plant would be briefly closed for cleaning on the 11th, but they should report as usual on Dec. 12. On the 11th, the factory’s president and owner Lloyd Culbertson–a former investment banker–asked the production manager to log him into the company’s web site, then demanded the worker leave the room. Thirty minutes later, workers checked the company’s site. They were shocked to discover a three-sentence announcement that the plant was now closed. Culbertson had not informed any of the plant’s 136 workers of the plant’s impending closure; the site’s announcement was the first any employee had heard that they were terminated.
Arise Chicago had previously assisted one Rolf’s worker to recover his owed vacation and file a health and safety complaint with OSHA, resulting in a fine against the company. Upon the bakery’s closure, they organized their co-workers and reached out to Arise Chicago. Arise Chicago worked with the former Rolf’s employees to organize their co-workers and file their lawsuit.
Today, a majority of former Rolf’s workers gathered to speak out about their illegal and immoral treatment. They called on Lloyd Culbertson to pay them the wages and severance that he owes them.
Check back here or on Arise’s Facebook page for more updates on the Rolf’s case. If you’d like to use any pictures from today’s action, feel free. For a PDF of the law suit that has been filed against Rolf’s, click here.
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