Century Arms lays off workers

Jobs terminated immediately

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GEORGIA —Century International Arms this morning notified a large group of workers that their jobs had been terminated, collected the laid-off workers’ identification badges and escorted them from the plant.

Century Arms, which has been in business for 50 years is North America’s largest importers of surplus firearms and accessories. Sources close to the situation today told the Messenger that about 65 people had lost their jobs in warehousing, assembly and office positions.

Officials at corporate offices in Delray Beach, Fla. referred all inquires to the Vermont distribution center this morning. Efforts to reach officials there were not successful as of press time today.

Under current state law any layoff of 25 or more workers requires notification of Vermont Dept. of Labor. Reached this morning, Annie Noonan, labor commissioner, said her senior staff was sent to Century Arms this morning when the company asked that the department have a presence during an assembly of workers where the lay-off announcement was made.

Noonan was unable to confirm the exact number of layoffs, legislation passed in the recent session requiring that a company divulge that number will not take effect until July 1. Gov. Peter Shumlin, however, breached that protocol during the last layoffs at the IBM facility in Essex Junction.

Noonan said her department began preparing for today’s announcement after being first notified by the company two days ago of possible layoffs. A rapid response team was deployed today to assist terminated employees with questions regarding unemployment compensation, and future job placement opportunities and assistance.

Staff from the unemployment insurance and workforce development divisions were present at the plant this morning.

Under law, Century Arms has 24 hours from the date of termination of employee wages to provide the labor department with additional information, said Noonan. That information will include the names of all terminated employees, their addresses, positions held, and their salaries. This information will be used, in part, to determine unemployment checks.

Noonan said it was her understanding that the company was to provide a severance package to workers but she was uncertain of its terms. Under law, unemployment compensation is not paid immediately when compensation is provided. If, for example, a person were paid $400 a week and the severance was $1,600, it would be a month before unemployment checks would be issues, explained the commissioner.

Noonan said it is always more difficult in situations where employees are immediately terminated and that her staff was at the plant today in part to assure those affected that they would receive all of the help the state could offer.

This morning’s meeting began at about 8 a.m. at a shift change at the facility. Repeated calls to plant officials for comment were not returned as of press time late this morning.