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May-22-2009 14:17printcomments

In Tough Times, Wage Security Fund Protects Displaced Oregon Workers

After Roseburg Company Closes Without Means to Pay Almost 100 Workers, State Wage Security Fund Provides Nearly $100,000 to Guarantee Final Paycheck.

One of the models offered by North River Boats
One of the models offered by North River Boats

(ROSEBURG, Ore.) - In April, Roseburg-based North River Boats closed its doors without the means to deliver nearly 100 workers a final paycheck. Oregon’s Wage Security Fund (WSF) protects workers in these unfortunate instances and ensures payment of final wages when a company closes and does not have sufficient funds to fully and promptly pay final wages owed to employees. The WSF, established in 1985, is unique to Oregon.

In the case of North River Boats, as of Monday, May 18, more than 80 former employees have filed WSF claims with the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI).

This occurred only after both the company’s retail operations and its manufacturing facility shut down and its remaining assets were exhausted. To date, 72 workers have been paid a total of $79,524.18 from the WSF, with the remaining claims bringing the potential payout to nearly $100,000.

“The Wage Security Fund is a vital tool in keeping our State running through difficult economic times and higher unemployment,” noted State Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian.

“If a company is forced to close its doors without the ability to pay its workers their final salary, then the WSF steps in. These one-time payments ensure Oregon’s displaced workers can continue to pay the rent, keep food on the table, and support their families.”

Since its inception in July 1986, the WSF has paid over $14 million in benefits to more than 14,000 displaced Oregon workers. Money for the fund comes from a small diversion from the state’s employment tax paid by employers for one quarter of every odd-numbered year.

Moreover, with every WSF claim filed, BOLI continues to seek reimbursement from the employer. In many cases, BOLI succeeds in recovering tens of thousands of dollars for the WSF and future displaced workers. This prevents the Fund from being tapped unnecessarily and ensures repayments are made by employers whenever possible.

Displaced workers can qualify for WSF payments of the amount they earned during the 60 days preceding the closure date of the firm or the amount of unpaid wages earned within 60 days of the last day of employment, to a maximum of $4,000.

The Fund pays amounts equal to unpaid wages only and does not cover vacation, sick leave or other accrued compensatory time or benefits. BOLI receives all WSF claims and processes the payments.

For more information about the Wage Security Fund and filing a claim, please visit:

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Henry Ruark May 23, 2009 8:36 pm (Pacific time)

gp.Amanda: Thank you not only for your sensitive, sensible Comment but also for your probing cogitation assisted by the Naomi Klein film and book. "See also" two new essential references I've listed in other threads, will repeat later here. Both carry on the basic information flow you have nicely sampled here.

Amanda Black May 23, 2009 10:34 am (Pacific time)

The banks are baioled out, the credit card companies are allowed to exploit the oublic with high interest rates, whiel the small company and the average worker in this country is further exploited and taken advantage of, due to our Government (Congrass) being unable to "Take Control" of prices, interest rates or Jobs, including the assurance to have a "Healthy workforce. Remember that slogan" work and bread?????? Maybe this country could have learned something from History.

gp May 23, 2009 10:22 am (Pacific time)

I would really like to see these types of funds allocated to helping the workers save their jobs by reopening the factories as worker owned collective. Many in Argentina have done just this with the help of the state. If the workers stay in the shut down factory and prevent the selloff of the machinery and tools that make the factory go until the state is able to assist them it could happen. It is more than what happened in Chicago and in Roseburg. Being paid the last wages owed is no solution for the future. Taking over the factory is. The movie The Take by Naomi Klien and her husband Uri...forget his last name.. is available on the net. It is a wonderful documentary that shows just how the workers in Argentina did this after the collapse of their ecconomy in 2001, a collapse I might add which was orchestrated by the same thieves who are responsible for crony capitalism in North America. See this amazing movie. If you have not read it already read the most important book of the last 10 years or more...Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klien which describes how the real evil doers wait for some catastrophe and rush in with emergency measures that in fact steal even more of the real wealth of a country. This is what the bailout is all about.

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