Letter: Camp uses pandemic to fire veteran workers

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To the editor:

We have all been affected by COVID -19 in some way, but luckily my friends and family all have their health. I would like to share with you how my husband was terminated from his job because of it.

My husband has held a year-round full-time maintenance position at a residential camp in Berkshire County for 28 years. The Christian camp he worked at is located on 1400+ acres in Becket. The camp hosts over 700 campers each year and has its own wastewater treatment facility. The maintenance crew there consisted of six full-time year-round employees and one supervisor who was newly hired in January. All were terminated in June except for the new inexperienced supervisor, and the lowest paid crew member who is also fairly new. They were told by the CEO that this decision did not reflect in any way on their personal performance on the job. It was due to the fact that the camp cannot open or operate for the remainder of 2020 due to COVID-19.

I understand that you can't keep a full-time workforce when your business is in jeopardy, but there are still contractors on site doing development and construction that the maintenance crew could have undertaken. The terminated employees were not offered a layoff with recall rights in January when the camp will most likely try to resume business as usual. Instead they were wished luck in their new endeavors and advised they could re-apply if they choose but would start their pay and benefits over as a new hire. These are senior employees who had earned good benefits, pay and vacation due to years of service to this camp. My husband, who is a past union carpenter and has his contract supervisor license, received no hourly raise because the camp said they were trying to equalize the pay scale of employees. The lowest paid and least experienced member received a large raise.

I would like to believe this decision was made solely because of financial hardship but in all honesty to me it sounds like corporate greed hiding behind a national pandemic to capitalize on a chance to reorganize, restructure and trim the fat without looking like bad guys.

Christine Casino,

Pittsfield

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