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Residents Rally In Rockton Over Chemtool Severance Packages


Rockton Chemtool workers are out of a job after a chemical fire destroyed the plant this past June. Now, some workers feel that Lubrizol, the company that owns Chemtool, is shortchanging their severance packages.

Documents obtained by WNIJ show a discrepancy between Lubrizol’s stated severance packages and the offerings Chemtool employees are receiving.

Earlier this week, community members like Evan Schoepski rallied outside of the Chemtool headquarters in Rockton.

“Hey, we support you, you know, we support the workers getting paid what they’re owed, we support the company doing what's right by you, you know,” said Schoepski.

Lubrizol’s package offers two weeks of base pay for each year of service and will at a minimum pay eight weeks of base pay plus a health care supplement equal to $200 per base pay. Some workers say, currently, Lubrizol is offering a fraction of those earned benefits.

A document handed to Chemtool employees explains that, as it stands, employees will only receive one week of base pay for each year of service with a maximum of eight weeks being paid out. And employees with less than five years of service will only receive two weeks of base pay.

Years of service are only being calculated beginning in 2013. Any years of service rendered before 2013 will not go toward any severance payment.

Lubrizol has highlighted that they are offering Chemtool a transition bonus of $1,000 for finding employment outside of the company. Lubrizol did not respond to a comment on whether the transition bonus is disincentivizing employees from looking for employment elsewhere out of fear of losing out on an earned severance package.

It remains unclear if accepting a severance package means that former Chemtool employees forfeit the right to sign onto any lawsuits against Chemtool or Lubrizol. In a comment, the lubricant and grease manufacturer declined to provide any comments or details relating to Chemtool severance packages.

  • Juanpablo Ramirez-Franco is a 2020 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of the GroundTruth Project which is a national service program that places talented journalists in local newsrooms.

Copyright 2021 WNIJ Northern Public Radio

Juanpablo Ramirez-Franco