|We've got NEWS|
|Tuesday, February 8, 2000 |
Tommy G. Thompson
News Media Contact
DWD investigating U.S. Leather for violating 60-day notice rule
MADISON--Department of Workforce Development Secretary Linda Stewart today said that the state is investigating a complaint concerning the closing of U.S. Leather without the statutorily required 60 days notice.
"The department is aware of the U.S. Leather situation and the possible violation of the 60-day notice rule," Stewart said. "We have already begun thoroughly investigating this matter to determine if the rights of U.S. Leather employees have been violated," she said. "If it is determined that U.S. Leather violated the statutes, we will ask them to pay their employees for the time that would have been worked during their 60-day recovery period. If payment is not made within 10 days, we will refer it to the Attorney Generals Office for further action."
The law gives the department 180 days to investigate and obtain payments in violations of the plant closing law. If the department rules that the law is broken and is unable to obtain payment, it refers the matter to the Attorney Generals Office. The Attorney Generals Office then has 120 days to file the case in Circuit Court.
In Wisconsin, anytime a business of 50 or more employees plans to close down or implement a mass layoff, it is required to provide 60-days advance written notification of the plan to the employee, the employees union representative and the highest ranking representative of the municipality in which that business resides. If it fails to do so, it can be required to pay employees their regular wages and benefits they would have earned during a 60-day recovery period. Businesses that violate the law can also be fined $500 per day of the 60 days that the head of the municipality is not notified. In U.S. Leathers case that could be $30,000.
In addition, DWD had staff on-site by 7:00a.m. on Friday, the day the plant closed, to provide assistance to employees. The department and its local partners are working with the company to provide assistance to the dislocated workers by coordinating bilingual orientations for the employees. The department is coordinating information sessions that cover unemployment insurance, reemployment and retraining services. A job fair is scheduled for Thursday in the City Building in Milwaukee for all employees to attend.
- END -