UPDATE: Charges Against Colibri Arrestees Dropped

Recently, I have been following the story of the Colibri Company in East Providence, Rhode Island. In January, Colibri closed their doors and left over 280 workers unemployed without notice – violating a federal law that compels companies with at least 100 employees to provide a minimum of 60 days’ notice before closing a plant”.
In March, 200 workers and allies protested the auction of Colibri’s assets, saying that no one should be paid until the workers are paid. 13 workers and allies committed civil disobedience sitting and lying down in the road with their arms linked to prevent entry to the auction. All 13 were arrested.
Last Wednesday, Fuerza Laboral (the organization behind the protest) celebrated a great victory in court where the Judge dismissed all charges against the 13 Colibri workers and allies who were arrested for civil disobedience on March 13 at the auction of Colibri’s assets. Several weeks ago in court, the judge offered to drop the charges against Colibri workers but continue the case against the group of allies that also were arrested in solidarity.
Upon hearing this offer, Shirley Samayoa, a 27 year veteran of Colibri said, “We don’t accept. We all sat down together and we’re all in this to the end. We want the same treatment for all of us.” All of the Colibri workers immediately agreed. The judge was taken aback by this show of solidarity and today, all of the accused received the same treatment: full dismissal of the charges.
Fuerza Laboral continues to hold Founders Equity accountable for forcing Colibri into receivership with no notice to employees. They are organizing to tear down the veil behind which “pirate equity” companies make fast money on the backs of hard working people and communities and then leave them in their wake as collateral damage.

One response to “UPDATE: Charges Against Colibri Arrestees Dropped

  1. It’s about time that companies and banks learn that the workers have rights that have to be upheld. When or if a company has to close they have to take care of their employees. They are the people that had kept the company going.
    When a person is employed they have to do a lot of paperwork to make everything official for the company to employ them. They basically sign a contract with the company to perform the work in the proper way and to receive compensation for that work.
    The company, upon hiring the worker, enters into a contract also with the worker. They agree to give the worker a safe place to work and to compensate them fairly for the work that they do each day. This includes medical insurance, vacation benefits and compensation when they leave the job. They each have certain rules that they are expected to abide by.
    Founders Equity, the long distant owner of Colibri , however, did not uphold their part of the contract when they unexpectedly locked the doors of the Colibri factory on January 15 and put 280 workers out of a job. They just took their profit and left the 280 workers and their families with nothing—no notice, no medical insurance, and no severance pay. All of these things are required by the federal WARN ACT for a company the size of Colibri. Founders Equity doesn’t like to play by the rules. They just wanted their money. Well—-the workers want theirs also.
    Since the federal government has not or can not enforce the WARN ACT that is supposed to protect the workers, the workers are now forced to file a federal law suit on behalf of the employees. The Colibri workers have stayed together and are fighting back against this private equity firm. Not all laid-off workers are able to do the same thing. It is so very unfortunate that workers have to fight for their rights in court. Companies have to be made to understand that there are laws that have to be obeyed or there are penalties to be paid for breaking the law.
    It seems that it is always the little guy that has to obey the law and not the people or companies with money. This is not right!
    Founders Equity has made a big change in the lives of many of the workers and their families by closing so abruptly. They put many of them in very serious financial trouble and dealing with many difficulties concerning medical problems. If a person has a serious medical problem such as cancer or diabetis the sudden loss of medical insurance can be devastating! There was no concern by Founders Equity to make sure that the employees that had worked so hard for them for so many years would be able to make the necessary transition from being employed to being laid-off. Whatever happened to common decency and respect? They apparently don’t know these words!
    They are, however, going to have to remember the Colibri workers! The workers haven’t forgotten about them and what they did on January 15.
    They will remember them when they have to answer the federal lawsuit!

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