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Chemtool Workers Question Severance Packages

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Juanpablo Ramirez-Franco
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Taylor Vronch and Bethany Prignano Discuss Chemtool Severance Policy

Months after the Chemtool fire displaced over 200 workers, employees are still unsure what their severance packages will include.

Taylor Vronch is one of the many Chemtool employees who gathered in Rockton over the weekend to call on Chemtool’s parent company Lubrizol to honor their commitment to pay out earned severance packages.

“Lubrizol asked us to stay strong during the COVID-19 pandemic by coming to work as essential workers and we did. Came to work every day,” said Vronch. “We're asking Lubrizol to be fully here for us now. There's still a chance to do the right thing.”

WNIJ reported last week a discrepancy between Lubrizol’s severance packages and the offerings Chemtool employees are receiving.

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. Employees are only seeing a fraction of those benefits.

Chemtool 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.

Bethany Prignano has worked at Chemtool for four years, but because she falls just short of the five year benchmark, she’ll receive the same severance package as someone that’s only worked a year with the company. Prignano said that after employees asked more questions about the discrepancies in the severance policy, Lubrizol shut down communication with employees completely.

“And, you know, we're getting to the point that our last paycheck is coming up, okay, so that money could help us if we don't find the high paying job that we're looking for,” Prignano said. “And that's what we were expecting. So to throw this at the last minute, with no explanation, it's making this stressful situation even worse for a lot of us.”

In a statement to WNIJ, a Lubrizol spokesperson said that the human resources remains available to answer any questions. But did not confirm whether the company intends to amend the severance packages offered to Chemtool employees.