Wood-Mode employees who lost their jobs last week and were then informed four days later that the owners would no longer pay their medical, vision or dental benefits say they have no recourse.
Brian Wilson was laid off along with 937 other Kreamer plant workers last week and was among hundreds of displaced employees to attend the state's Rapid Response team event Tuesday where teams of experts were available to help them navigate the difficult aftermath of job loss.
Services offered range from help in filling out unemployment claims, financial credit counseling, job training and pension benefits for the employees who were abruptly put out of work when the 77-year-old plant was shut down.
There was no helping the former employees who were notified last Friday that their health and wellness benefits, including medical, vision and dental insurance, would cease by midnight that evening.
"According to the people we spoke with, because the plant closed there is nothing we can do" about the company's decision to end benefits within four days of closing the plant, Wilson said. "Just because we lost our jobs it doesn't mean they have to continue paying for our insurance."
Paul Hitesman, a 22-year Wood-Mode employee, said he's not surprised the company stopped paying employees' insurance benefits so soon after the shutdown.
"There's no money," he said.
Employees may have a chance to recoup some financial loss through one of at least three federal class-action lawsuits filed against Wood-Mode for closing the plant without giving them at least 90 days notice, he said.
"But a lawsuit will take years," Hitesman said.