Sklar Peppler Furniture declares bankruptcy, workers to make use of new Wage Protection Bill

    AJAX, ON, Sept. 5 /CNW/ - 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:

For further information: Wess Dowsett (USW Representative), (905)
576-6262 ext. 224, (416) 884-4195

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