February 26, 2020

Severance bill won’t help ousted Vishay workers

AUGUSTA – A legislative panel supports a bill that would tweak the state’s severance law but would not specifically address the plight of Vishay Sprague workers who were laid off without full severance pay.

The bill that won the Labor Committee’s approval on Thursday does not contain a provision to make it clear that Vishay Sprague workers in Sanford who already lost their jobs are entitled to more severance pay.

Forty-five former employees of Vishay Sprague are suing the company, saying their dismissals violated the Maine Severance Pay Act by not giving severance pay of one week for every year of service.

The electronic components manufacturer announced last February that it was laying off 320 workers. Three months later, it announced it was closing the Sanford plant and laying off an additional 463 workers.

The company has been giving workers a maximum of six weeks of severance pay. That falls short of what long-term employees say they deserve.

The lawsuit, filed Feb. 21, came as state lawmakers from Sanford pushed the issue of severance pay in Augusta.

The Labor Committee did not totally shut out Vishay workers. It asked state Rep. John Tuttle, D-Sanford, and Rep. David Bowles, R-Sanford, to meet with labor and business advocates to come up with language specifically intended to help Vishay workers who received pink slips.

Tuttle said he still hopes to strike an agreement with Bowles on a bill that would cover former Vishay employees. “I want to have a retroactivity provision in there,” Tuttle said.

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