About 50 of Qimonda’s laid off workers protested outside their old workplace yesterday, demanding the bankrupt company pay them backed wages instead of dishing it out to other creditors and or current executives.
Workers at the rally said that they are owed their severance pay and paid time off. Some workers said that they had never received their final paycheck.
Victoria Jenkins had worked for the company for 10 years, most recently as a mid-level supervisor in manufacturing. She was laid off before the Germany-based computer chip manufacturer filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy in January.
“I waited two weeks and never heard a thing. Then I got a letter in the mail saying I wouldn’t be getting my final paycheck,” Jenkins said. “There wasn’t really an explanation. I had accrued 150 hours of paid time off, and I don’t really care about that, I just want my paycheck.”
When Qimonda filed for Chapter 11, the workers who were laid off prior to the bankruptcy became creditors. That means they had to get in line behind all the other companies and people owed money.
Employees at the rally said they have not been notified when they may get their money. And many have tried repeatedly contacting company and state officials.
The local protestors are also miffed that last week a federal bankruptcy judge cleared the way for $1.24 million in bonuses to be paid out to 46 employees who still work at the plant.
Some protestors referred to the executives as “fat-cats.” One woman held up a sign which read, “You don’t have my money? What about that $1.24 million.”
Mark Turner, a former engineering supervisor who organized the rally, said employees were told that Qimonda did not have enough for severance money. He said checks sent to some workers bounced.
Turner said the Qimonda owes him about $15,000
“My full-time job now is looking for one,” Turner said.
John Stouffer, a former maintenance technician said that many of the engineers at the company had been snatched up by the Navy for civilian jobs.
“But the Navy is looking for people who have only been out a few years and still have security clearances. I was in the Army but that was 20 years ago,” he said.
Some Qimonda workers at the protest said they were forced to sell items from their homes (including one who sold a plasma TV). Others are drawing on any available funds.
“I had to cash in my 401K,” Jenkins said. “And I’m 40 years old. A lot of us have had to do things like that.”
Brannan Taylor who was a lead associate in the manufacturing division said the company owed him about $6,000.
“I’m just out here letting my opinion be known and catching up with some old friends,” Taylor said.
Taylor said he was taking the opportunity to go back to school at J. Sergeant Reynolds for information systems. The state will pay for up to $10,000 of training if you qualify for the program as part of the unemployment benefits.
Representative Joe Morrissey, who represents the 74th district which includes the section of Eastern Henrico where Qimonda had its plants, was at the rally supporting the workers. He spoke out against Virginia legislature’s decision to refuse federal stimulus money to extend unemployment benefits.
“I’m just out here to support these laid-off workers who, many of them are in my district,” Morrissey said. “And I think this highlights the need for Virginia to accept the stimulus money and extend our unemployment benefits.”
David Larter is a BizSense reporter. Please send news tips to [email protected]