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Sklar Peppler Furniture Declares Bankruptcy

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United Steelworkers' (USW) Ontario/Atlantic Director Wayne Fraser said Friday the declared bankruptcy of Sklar Furniture in Ajax comes at a time when members of USW Local 50U had given the company numerous concessions to keep the operation, part of the US-based Sklar Peppler Furniture Corporation, in Canada. The union was notified late Thursday that the company is bankrupt and 174 workers will lose their jobs. Sklar entered bankruptcy protection two years ago under the Companies Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA) and within months it had restructured, with creditors and employees agreeing to accept more concessions. In a move that violated the collective agreement, the company discontinued the employees' benefits package. Entitlement to benefits was established through arbitration although they were not restored prior to Thursday's announcement. Fraser said the USW will use recent amendments to the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act, the Wage Protection Bill, which ensures employees wages and vacation pay will be guaranteed in the event of a bankruptcy. Local 50U President Sam Onofrio said his members "are grateful for the work the union has done to get wage protection into law, especially since the last paycheques issued by the company bounced." "The union is committed to fight for every last penny owed to these workers," said Fraser. "This company has been in business for more than 60 years and the name Sklar Peppler is well known in the furniture industry. In addition to the shabby treatment of our members by Sklar, this situation is yet another example of how manufacturing in Ontario has been allowed to all but vanish while all levels of government do nothing to prevent it. Meanwhile, furniture made in China is easily finding its way into stores and showrooms. The lack of action by Queen's Park and Ottawa is a national disgrace." All Local 50U members at Sklar Furniture are urged to contact their local executive at 905-576-6262 to provide information needed by the union to process their claims. For further information: Wess Dowsett (USW Representative), (905) 576-6262 ext. 224, (416) 884-4195

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