State Investigation Results in Workers Receiving Full Restitution for Unpaid Vacation, Holiday, Medical and Life Insurance Payments
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced today that $500,000 in unpaid wages and benefits has been returned to former employees of the closed Climax Manufacturing Corporation in Lowville. The 158 workers, members of United Steelworkers Union Local 1888, received checks covering unpaid wages, vacation and holiday pay, as well as unpaid medical claims and life insurance after Climax Manufacturing closed in April of 2016 without advance notice.
"New York has zero tolerance for those who disregard their obligations, exploit their workforce, and fail to pay them what they are owed," Governor Cuomo said. "This administration will continue to be vigilant against worker exploitation in any form and will do everything within its power to ensure a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work."
Following Climax Manufacturing’s closing, the State Department of Labor began an investigation centering on money owed to workers and established that the company was liable and that the workers would receive the entirety of what they were owed.
While DOL’s Worker Protection Division investigated the business, the department’s Rapid Response team was dispatched to assist employees during their time of transition. Rapid Response teams are dispatched when layoffs occur, providing guidance to affected employees with the entire suite of no-cost services the Department offers, including employment referrals, customized recruitments, career development assistance, community resources and assistance, and, when necessary, assistance with filing for Unemployment Insurance benefits.
In September 2016, the New York State Department of Labor announced up to $125,000 in additional training funding for workers impacted by the closing of Climax Manufacturing. As of January 2017, the New York State Department of Labor has assisted in finding jobs for 115 former Climax Manufacturing employees, and continues to assist the former Climax employees still in need.
New York State Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon said, "Let this significant settlement serve as an example to any company across the state seeking to exploit workers. Far too often, when a company shuts down, employees are owed wages and left scrambling to look for work. I thank the Department of Labor’s Worker Protection and Rapid Response teams for their diligent work throughout this difficult process."
Senator Joseph A. Griffo said, "The closure of Climax was a troubling setback for the communities of Lewis County, and a devastating blow to those loyal and hard-working employees who dedicated themselves to the company’s success. This recovery is an important victory for the former employees of Climax, and I thank the Governor and the Department of Labor for taking action on behalf of these workers to ensure that they received what they are owed. There is no excuse for mistreating workers, and I hope this instance sends a clear message. It is great news that these workers have received the compensation that is rightfully theirs, and I am pleased that state resources through the Department of Labor have been able to assist many of these individuals in finding new employment opportunities."
Assemblyman Ken Blankenbush said, "I'm glad to see some justice in this terrible situation and appreciate the efforts of the Governor’s Office and the Department of Labor in this matter."
Lewis County Board of Legislators Chairman Michael Tabolt said, “Thanks to Governor Cuomo, the former employees of Climax Manufacturing have finally received their fair share of what is owed to them. This victory will help these individuals and their families continue to get back on their feet after unexpectedly losing their jobs last year and I thank the Governor and the Department of Labor for their diligence in ensuring that justice was served.”
To learn more about the Department of Labor’s Division of Labor Standards, please click here.
To learn more about the Department of Labor’s Rapid Response Team, please visit this link.