Chemtool employees demand better severance packages

Employees say the original severance package they were offered by Lubrizol is off the table, and they want it back.
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Published: Aug. 22, 2021 at 10:37 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 22, 2021 at 10:39 PM CDT
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ROCKTON, Ill. (WIFR) - In the beginning of August, Lubrizol representatives said Chemtool employees impacted by the Chemtool fire on June 14, would be paid through the middle of September. According to the employees, they were told they would be covered under the Lubrizol severance pay policy, but found out soon after, that’s not be the case.

“I’m asking Lubrizol to be fully here for us now. There’s still a chance to do the right thing,” said Taylor Vronch who worked for Chemtool for more than seven years.

He and his co-worker, Bethany Prignano, organized a meeting Sunday afternoon of around twenty Chemtool employees who will soon be out of work. According to the employees, they were told during individual meetings with Lubrizol, Chemtool’s parent company, that Chemtool no longer fell under the Lubrizol policy. This flips the minimum of eight weeks of pay to the maximum.

Lubrizol released the following statement in response to the employee’s concerns:

“We have treated our employees well and provided significant support for our employees since the day of the fire. We have provided full pay and benefits since that day to all impacted employees, including financial, legal and mental care benefits through our Employee Assistance Program.

We immediately provided job/career transition services to assist employees in seeking a new position, either within Lubrizol or outside of Lubrizol. We have actively sought to match Rockton employees with positions available within Lubrizol and are providing relocation assistance for those who have found jobs within Lubrizol. Within a few weeks of the fire, we hosted a job fair in Rockton with more than 15 area employers and continue to support efforts to connect our Rockton employees with employers. We are providing a placement bonus to any Rockton employee who finds a job outside of Lubrizol. Given the near-term realities at the site, impacted employees will eventually need to move on, and we will provide appropriate severance when that time comes. Those details are being discussed directly with employees.

To date, more than 30% of impacted employees have been placed in new opportunities within Lubrizol, in extended terms with the company or with outside organizations. Our HR team has been available and remains available for employee questions. We will not comment on pay and benefits matters beyond these details.

“I felt very cheated,” said Vronch.

“Up until this point I thought Lubrizol was actually going to do the right thing and help us transition. And now, I mean they shut down communication. They took our severance pay,” said Prignano. “They’re clearing not supporting us.”

Bethany Prignano said she would have received around $7,000 in severance pay. Under the new transition package, she will only receive about one paycheck’s worth, which is around $1,000.

“I mean honestly it’s insulting for all the work that we’ve put into the building and our jobs that they offer us so little,” said Prignano.

The official severance package letters have not been sent out yet, according to the employees. The employees who gathered Sunday afternoon said they hope Lubrizol decides to include them in what they think is a generous severance policy.

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