• John McGary, Woodford Sun Editor

Quad/Graphics sold after massive job cuts

On July 1, CJK Group of Minnesota announced that it had purchased the plant on the U.S. 60 Bypass from Quad/Graphics, and that none of the 254 people working there at the time of the sale would lose their jobs. Before the sale, however, Quad/Graphics laid off hundreds of employees – in 2018, according to the state Economic Development Cabinet’s website, the company employed 710. Lewis Neat said he went to work for Rand-McNally in 1972, stacking papers and books before rising to his final job – running a printing press for Quad/Graphics (the longtime and final owner of the plant before its recent sale). He’s one of hundreds let go this year as Quad/Graphics prepared to sell its book-making operation in Versailles. Shirley Ivey is another. She said she was hired by Rand McNally in 1963, went part-time in 2015 and was furloughed March 27. “I was in what they call the sample department and we inspected all the books that went out,” Ivey said. Other employees in that department, ranging in years of experience from 15 to more than 20, were terminated later, as was her son-in-law, an electrician who’d worked there for 45 years, she said. Ivey and Neat said they also lost weeks of vacation time they’d earned. Neat said he was informed March 27 that the company was shutting everything down for about two weeks due to the coronavirus pandemic. On May 1, he received his annual “Happy Anniversary” email from Quad-Graphics. Three weeks later, while he was fishing, his wife called to say he’d just received another email from the company and told him, “Congratulations – Quad/Graphics just retired you.” An accompanying packet said Neat was eligible for 26 weeks of unemployment pay, he said. “That was the severance package. We’re not getting anything from them.” Neat said he and other longtime employees were given three months of post-employment health insurance; his runs out Aug. 23. “This would have been my last year, no matter how it went, but it’s just the idea of how they did things that kind of makes me mad,” he said. Like other employees who just learned of the company’s sale, Neat said he believed CJK Group was waiting for Quad/Graphics to slash its Versailles payroll before purchasing it. “One of their (CJK Group) comments was, ‘They paid their people too much,’” Neat said after a visit by CJK officials. The Sun emailed CJK Group’s general counsel, Brianna Blazek, to ask whether NJK Group was waiting for Quad/Graphics to cut jobs before purchasing the plant and how many jobs were lost. Blazek left a voicemail saying the sale was a “friendly acquisition” and that she’d ask Quad/Graphics officials if they wanted to comment on the job cuts. The Sun did not hear from Quad/Graphics, and was unable to reach the company through a toll-free number listed on its website. Monday, Versailles Mayor Brian Traugott and Woodford Judge-Executive James Kay told the Sun that Quad/Graphics officials had not informed them of this year’s job cuts. Neat, 66, said he’s eligible for Social Security and will begin drawing his private pension when his unemployment compensation ends, but he’s none too happy with the people who ran the plant where he worked for nearly half a century. “I don’t like them, not at all – they way they did everybody,” Neat said. “They came in and wrecked the plant.”

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