In compliance with Gov. Tom Wolf’s order, Zippo Manufacturing Co. and W.R. Case & Sons Cutlery Co. temporarily shut down production and fulfillment operations on Friday, laying off most employees.
“Effective end of day March 20, many Zippo and Case employees have been temporarily laid off,” read a statement from Zippo’s general counsel Beth Seals on Monday. “Appropriate employees in key departments will remain active remotely to manage the most urgent priorities and to prepare the companies for the quickest possible return to full operations as soon as we are permitted to resume operations.”
The statement also contained remarks from President and CEO Mark Paup.
He said, ““We do not take this action lightly, or without having exhausted every feasible option. We are committed to weathering this critical situation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the painful-but-necessary actions instituted by the state of Pennsylvania in an effort to save lives. Working together, and with the support of our dedicated employees and loyal customers, we will emerge from this crisis stronger and positioned to grow.”
A letter distributed to Zippo employees Friday from Bruce Gallagher, senior vice president of human resources, indicated company officials are hopeful this will be just a two-week shutdown.
“We hope that we will be able to safely and lawfully resume operations at the end of this two-week period, although the situation is unpredictable and it may become necessary to extend the layoff for a longer period of time,” the letter read.
The letter also laid out options for employees to consider to “make ends meet during this two-week period.”
The first option is for employees to use their vacation time to continue to collect pay during the shutdown, while the section option is to apply for unemployment.
The letter also explained that the company is waiving any contributions toward health, dental and vision insurance during the two-week period, and will continue it during that time frame at no cost to the employee.
“The leadership of Zippo Manufacturing Company regrets the need for this action,” the letter concluded. “We wish the best to you and your family during these unprecedented times, and will be in contact before the end of the two-week period to provide an update on the situation.”