Sen. Warren and Rep. Ocasio-Cortez Demand Sun Capital Establish
Severance Fund for 14,000 Laid-Off Shopko Employees
NATIONWIDE — This week, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) have called on private equity firm Sun Capital Partners, which liquidated 350 Shopko stores under its ownership, to establish a financial assistance fund to pay severance to all 14,000 employees impacted. In a letter addressed to Shopko’s Co-Chief Executive Officers Rodger Krouse and Marc Leder, Sen. Warren and Rep. Ocasio-Cortez put their support behind the 700 Shopko employees taking action with United for Respect to hold Sun Capital accountable for throwing families nationwide into financial crisis after shuttering the historic Midwest retailer.
“A lot of people looked at Shopko as a home away from home, so we were blindsided by the news. I was heartbroken for myself and all my teammates — we had people there for almost 30 years in a lot of stores. It’s sad that a company that cared so much for the community is ending like this,” said Kristi Van Beckum, an assistant manager at Shopko who served for 14 years in Madison, Wisconsin. “Sun Capital took away our jobs and our healthcare but were still paying top executives tens of thousands of dollars a month during liquidation. I’m personally grateful to Senator Warren and Representative Ocasio-Cortez for standing with working people and calling out Sun Capital for taking away our livelihoods.”
Sen. Warren and Rep. Ocasio-Cortez write in their letter:
Your company reaped millions of dollars in profits from your Shopko acquisition, but the decisions you made ultimately led to the company’s liquidation. As a result, more than 14,000 Americans lost their jobs and may lose their severance payments… The years of financial tricks and outright lies to workers are shameful and I strongly urge you to ensure that these workers receive every penny of the severance payments that they have earned.
On their last day of work at Shopko stores on June 23, laid-off employees wore t-shirts and hung signs reading “Shopko Strong,” “Sun Capital Killed Our Jobs” and “We Want Our Severance.” Meanwhile, former Toys ‘R’ Us, Sears and Kmart employees tweeted their sadness, frustration, and support for Shopko employees, as they join the growing list of retail employees whose companies have been driven into bankruptcy by private equity firms.
Congressional scrutiny of Sun Capital’s practices is growing. In June, on behalf of nearly 3,000 Wisconsin Shopko employees, Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) made the same demand for Sun Capital Partners to pay severance for all of the employees who lost or would lose their jobs because of the company’s liquidation.
Taking action with United for Respect, Shopko employees are joining thousands of others from Toys ‘R’ Us, Sears, and Kmart to call for accountability from Wall Street private equity firms and hedge funds. Predatory strategy employed by Wall Street firms to extract short-term profits from America’s biggest retail companies has resulted in a job crisis in the industry, impacting hundreds of thousands of working families in communities across the country.
If you’re covering Shopko and are interested in speaking with an impacted employee, please reach out to Taylor Campbell at (202) 854-9571 or [email protected].