Beacon Container has laid off employees

Beacon Container

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According to a letter from the company to employees obtained by MediaNews Group, Beacon Container Corp. abruptly laid off employees and closed its Birdsboro facility in February due to financial constraints.

According to the letter, dated Feb. 8, “certain losses have placed Beacon Container in financial distress,” and as a result, “all hourly employees are being laid off effective immediately.”

In the letter, Beacon, a manufacturer and distributor of shipping containers, inserts, and retail packaging, stated that affected employees would receive a final paycheck with compensation for time worked through February 8.

The letter is signed by Steve Walter, Beacon’s owner, president, and CEO since 2011. The company did not respond to requests for comment on the closure, and the letter provided no additional information on its financial woes.

Employees at Beacon told MediaNews Group that rumors of the impending financial disaster had been circulating for months. Still, the company had made no formal comment or warning prior to the letter on February 8.

We only worked 4 hours that day and that was it, according to one employee who worked as a machine operator at Beacon for 34 years. He (Walter) did not speak to us… Nobody said anything to anyone; they simply posted the letter on the bulletin board and moved on.

That employee claimed he was paid for the time he worked but not for unused vacation time and did not receive a severance package. He claimed he was later notified that his health insurance and 401k had been cancelled.

According to Beacon’s letter, employees enrolled in company insurance programs would be contacted by the company’s COBRA administrator about continuing their coverage.

Following the layoff, the employee stated that his union, United Steelworkers Local 286, attempted but failed to negotiate additional severance pay with the company. Representatives from United Steelworkers Local 286 confirmed that the union represented Beacon employees.

According to Mario Tatom, vice president and business agent for Local 286, financial negotiations with Beacon are still ongoing. That employee claimed he was paid for the time he worked but not for unused vacation time and did not receive a severance package.

He claimed he was later notified that his health insurance and 401k had been canceled.

According to Beacon’s letter, employees enrolled in company insurance programs would be contacted by the company’s COBRA administrator about continuing their coverage. Birdsboro municipal officials did not respond to requests for comment on the closure. Beacon’s first plant opened in Pottstown in 1955, and the company relocated to Birdsboro in 1965.

Beacon employed approximately 100 people at its plant, 700 W. First St., Birdsboro, according to December 2020 reporting. An up-to-date employee count was unavailable.

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