DRYDEN, N.Y. — Layoffs have begun at Vanguard Printing, which announced the plant would close earlier this summer. Over the next few weeks, 120 employees will be laid off.
Vanguard Graphics LLC, or Vanguard Printing LLC, filed a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) on June 29. This week, about 60 days later, employees have begun to receive notices that their employment terminates this week. The plant is officially slated to close Sept. 29, according to the notice.
The New York State WARN Act states that private employers that employ more than 50 people are required to issue a WARN notice and notify employees 90 days before closing a plant. The state’s law is stricter than federal law, which requires 60 days notice.
The act further states “no employer may order a mass layoff, plant closing, relocation, or a covered reduction in work hours covered by this rule unless, at least 90 calendar days prior to such mass layoff … the employer provides notice in compliance with the requirements set forth below. When all employees are not terminated on the same date, the date of the first individual termination shall trigger the 90-day notice requirement. The first and each subsequent group of employees earmarked for termination are entitled to a full 90 days’ notice.”
Dean Rudy, Chief Financial Officer of Vanguard Printing, reached by phone Thursday claimed he was unaware of the WARN notice filed with the NYS Department of Labor and would not confirm that layoffs were even happening. When asked who at the company could answer why employees were not given 90 days notice, which he said he was not aware of, he suggested the New York State Department of Labor.
In one letter sent to an employee, shared with The Ithaca Voice, it stated their layoff date is Friday and their final paycheck will be issued Sept. 7 and will include any vacation hours accrued through their layoff date.
Jill Aurora, communications director for the New York State Department of Labor said “the issue is under review and the Department of Labor does not provide comment on pending matters.”
The law is in place, a fact sheet about the WARN Act states, to give employees sufficient time to prepare for the layoffs and increase the chances they will find a new job. If found to have violated the WARN Act, an employer may be subjected to a civil penalty of $500 per day of violation. Employers in violation are also liable for back pay and other benefits for 60 days of the violation.
Two employees, who spoke with The Ithaca Voice on the condition of anonymity, said layoff dates are staggered until Sept. 14. They described the atmosphere at Vanguard as “miserable” and said communication with management overall has been poor as many people expected to get the full 90 days notice.
Though employees were initially informed in June that the plant would close, they had not received further communication until layoff notices began coming out this week, the employees said. They added that clearer communication would have been more fair to the employees that have been there for decades.
Located off of Dryden Road at 17 Hallswoods Road in Ithaca, Vanguard Printing was founded in 1901 in Ithaca as Quality Press and was later renamed Wilcox Press. Vanguard acquired the facility in 2006. When the layoffs were first announced in June, the company did not give an explanation for the closing.
Kappa Printing Management Associates, which took over Vanguard in 2016, did not respond to a request for comment by press time.