As the bankrupt Toys R Us chain winds down its going-out-of-business sales at stores around the country, part-time workers who haven’t already been let go will face unemployment by the end of June.
Long-time employees Mary Osman and Patty Van Fossen claim they were promised severance packages for their years of service. But, they learned later there is no money set aside for that.
“I was expecting something at the end. I worked hard at that company and I ended up with nothing,” Osman said.
Both Osman and Van Fossen say company executives are going back on their word.
So, the women are now teaming up with Toys R Us workers around the country as well as an advocacy group known as Rise Up Retail to put pressure on executives, investors and even lawmakers to force the company to set money aside for retirement benefits.
“We did some of the research to analyze … who’s really behind the bankruptcy in Toys R Us and what role can the state of Ohio play in actually helping all Toys R Us workers,” said Rise Up Retail spokesperson Carrie Gleason.
Across the country there are roughly 33,000 Toys R Us employees — 1,000 of them work at 37 stores in Ohio. And although the Boardman location usually has 50 or 60 workers this time of year, less than 30 are left.
Osman, who has worked for the company for 24 years, says she’s made plenty of sacrifices.
“I had to rush to eat my Thanksgiving dinner to go to work because we started work at four or five in the afternoon and we’d work until two o’clock in the morning,” Osman said.
“That’s their only job, they depend on that income to survive. It’s just not fair,” Van Fossen said.
The company offered no response to the ladies’ claims. So, Van Fossen and Osman are going to Columbus later this month to speak with leaders of the State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio, which has invested millions with Toys R Us and its owners.