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Following lead of Toys ‘R’ Us workers, Sears employees ask for protections, severance from the financial firms driving Sears’ bankruptcy reorganization

Last week, dozens of Sears and Kmart employees sent a letter to the hedge funds and other creditors that control Sears and are driving the retailer’s bankruptcy reorganization.  Following the lead of Toys ‘R’ Us workers, who recently won $20 million hardship fund from Toys ‘R’ Us former private equity owners, Sears workers called on Sears’ owners, investors and creditors to support Sears and Kmart employees:

“While we understand that Sears and Kmart must make changes to survive, we do not believe it is fair that financial firms stand to profit from Sears’ bankruptcy while employees like us are asked to sacrifice,” the letter from Sears employees said.

Employees asked the financial firms that own Sears and or bought up its debt to commit to protect jobs, provide severance pay to laid off employees and create a hardship fund like for laid off employees, and to honor pensions for Sears retirees.

Media coverage:

– Bloomberg, Nov 30, 2018: “Sears Workers, Galvanized by Toys ‘R’ Us, Ask for Bankruptcy Assurances

– Wall Street Journal, Nov 30, 2018: “Sears Workers Copy Toys ‘R’ Us Severance Playbook”

– Business Journals, Dec 4, 2018: “Sears staffers seek severance as retailer reorganizes”

– The Guardian, Dec 1, 2018: “Laid-off Sears workers left with nothing – and they say wealthy bosses are to blame”

– Vox, Dec 3, 2018: “After Sears declared bankruptcy, employees are fighting for severance pay”

 

The Sears employees’ letter is here, text below:

 

Dear Sears owners, investors and creditors,

We are employees of Sears Holdings Inc. working at Sears and Kmart stores across the country.

We have invested years and in some cases decades of our lives serving Sears and Kmart customers.

We have watched Sears shrink from over 300,000 employees in more than 4,000 stores to 68,000 employees in over 600 stores.

As the Sears bankruptcy process unfolds, our livelihoods are at risk.

We do not know where the bankruptcy process will lead, but whatever happens, we believe that employees who have dedicated our lives to Sears and Kmart should not pay the price for the decisions of companies that have sought to profit off this iconic American brand at our expense.

We ask that financial firms and creditors participating in Sears Holdings’ bankruptcy process commit to the following:

  1. Protect thousands of jobs, hundreds of stores and preserve Sears businesses.
  2. Guarantee severance pay and create a hardship fund for thousands of laid off Sears and Kmart employees to help our families get back on our feet.
  3. Honor our benefits, including pensions for thousands of retirees.

We will be making this request to all Sears’ creditors and financial firms participating in Sears’ bankruptcy.

While we understand that Sears and Kmart must make changes to survive, we do not believe it is fair that financial firms stand to profit from Sears’ bankruptcy while employees like us are asked to sacrifice.

Please let us know whether your company will commit to these principles.

 

Sincerely,

Employees of Sears Holdings Inc.

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