(Host) The state has taken the unusual step of forcing a company to use profits from its Vermont operation to pay workers. A Rutland court has ruled that money the American Paper Company receives from a hydroelectric facility at its idle Gilman mill must be used to pay current bills and compensate a small number of workers who continue to staff the mill. The workers haven t been paid for a month.
According the Katherine Hayes of the Attorney General s office, American Paper receives more than $30,000 a month for the electricity generated at its hydro facility on the Connecticut River. Hayes says her office asked the court to take the action because there was concern the money wouldn t be used to pay the workers:
(Hayes) I m not aware of us ever having done this kind of action against a business, exactly. But then I m not aware of any other business that s shown quite the degree of neglect in terms of paying it s bills or paying it s workers that we ve seen from American Paper.
(Host) American Paper closed the Northeast Kingdom mill last spring, idling more than 100 employees. The workers union has filed suit against the company to force it into bankruptcy. Steve Bean is head of the local union at the mill. Bean says he s hopeful the bankruptcy will force the plant to be sold to new owners and that the jobs will return:
(Bean) I ve been looking for work but nobody wants to hire somebody who might go back to the mill when it opens. When you get asked the question, Will you go back to the mill if it reopens? either you tell them yes or you lie to them. Although it may appear to be dead and gone, I don t really believe that it is.
(Host) According to Bean, the company still owes laid off workers back pay and benefits. The Attorney General s office says it will be up to the bankruptcy court to resolve these issues.