Sen. Warren and Rep. Ocasio-Cortez Call Out Former Sears CEO Eddie Lampert in Letter, Expressing Support for Employees and Demanding Answers
NATIONWIDE — Today, Senator Elizabeth Warren and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez sent a joint letter to former Sears CEO and billionaire Eddie Lampert, expressing their concern about his unwillingness to pay severance to thousands of employees. They reiterate their support for Sears and Kmart employees and their families, requesting answers about the billionaire’s plans to provide the $43 million in severance pay he promised to laid-off employees, and his plans to maintain the remaining stores and jobs. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Ocasio-Cortez write:
You said that you “believe strongly in creating value for all stakeholders, especially the employees,” and you promised that “eligible employees of the new Sears will be entitled to the same severance benefits as they were entitled to as employees of Sears Holdings prior to the Chapter 11 filing.” But new reports of your efforts to avoid paying millions of dollars in severance payments to laid-off workers indicate that you are betraying the commitment you made to Sen. Warren, to the bankruptcy court, and most importantly, to the tens of thousands of workers who have lost their jobs and face uncertain futures after your exploitative tenure at Sears.
When Eddie Lampert led the merger between Sears and Kmart in 2005, the company employed over 300,000 people. Today, only 45,000 jobs have survived the intentional devastation he wreaked on the company. Earlier this year, Lampert regained control of Sears in bankruptcy court as his bid, which allocated $43 million to severance pay and committed to keep stores open, was touted as the best option for the employees.
“After 29 years of service to Sears, I was laid off and promised eight weeks of severance pay and told I would have my medical for ten weeks. Almost a year later, I still haven’t received even one cent of it. I worked hard at my store in Newark, CA until its doors closed for the last time,” said Kathy Cagle, a United for Respect leader and former Sears employee. “It’s not right that Eddie Lampert and his friends are trying to cheat dedicated employees like me from what we were promised.”
Joining with United for Respect, former and current Sears and Kmart employees across the nation are calling for representation on the new Sears’ corporate board to ensure Lampert prioritizes the long-term welfare of the company and the remaining 45,000 employees over short-term profits for himself. Building on the playbook of people who worked at Toys ‘R’ Us, who fought for and won a historic $20 million hardship fund from KKR and Bain Capital, they are calling on Lampert to set up a hardship fund to provide financial relief to all employees, including part-time employees, who have lost their jobs as a result of store closures and to fulfill his obligations to pay full severance for those who were entitled to it.
If you’re covering Sears and are interested in speaking with an impacted employee, please reach out to Taylor Campbell at (202) 854-9571 or [email protected].