Bake Line Group Bankruptcy

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A south Beloit cookie and cracker maker files for bankruptcy, leaving 300 workers without a job. 23 News Reporter Erica Hurtt talked with Bake Line group employees about the closure of two stateline plants and how workers are handling the news.

Since taking over operations from CDC in may 2002, Bake Line group had increased production by 300 percent and more than doubled its workforce. Employees thought the sweet smell of success was in the air.

"We all had good hopes thinking it was going to boom," says Debby Ames.

Those hopes came crashing to the ground. Bake Line filed for chapter seven bankruptcy, sending 300 stateline workers to the unemployment line.

Roberto Martinez says, "We don't know anything. They didn't tell us anything until right now. I guess I just go look for another job. That's it."

As Bake Line employees showed up for work they received more information about the closure. They learned they're benefits are terminated immediately and they even have to file a claim to get their last paychecks.

"It bothers me. You think you have a stable job and you don't. Then you're stripped of your benefits. That really gets me because I have a daughter going to college and now this," Ames says.

Bake Line workers expressed shock and surprise as they shared hugs and picked up personal belongings on Tuesday.

"I expected if something was going down, they'd let us know," says Tim Lawrence.

Now there are many unknowns for bake line employees who start off the new year battling a tough job market. Company leaders say efforts were underway to restructure Bake Line's finances and keep the business going for a few more months, but say those efforts failed. The bankruptcy affects 1,300 workers at seven U.S. plants.