Closing leaves long-time workers with no severance, no explanations

September 10, 2010
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Wonderland employees – some with more than 35 years on the job – were let go without even a severance package when the track closed down abruptly on August 19, according to several sources.

A small group of former Wonderland employees, all of whom had full-time union jobs at the track, said that Wondy has gotten many accolades following their closing, but that some workers felt there was little to be impressed with on the inside.

“I want to say without hesitation that Wonderland could care less about any union employee it had,” said one former employee of 41 years, who requested anonymity due to ongoing issues with the track. “There was no severance package. I would be thrilled with just $100 for every year I worked there. That’s just $4,100. We walked out of that track basically with our underwear on and we were lucky we had that. No severance pay. No letter from management. Just nothing, nothing at all to show you compassion.”

Wonderland CEO Dick Dalton said he would prefer not to comment about the final days of Wonderland, and about complaints from former employees.

He did say, though, that there was no severance pay.

“I will confirm there was no severance package,” he said.

Wonderland closed abruptly on August 19, posting a sign in the window stating that the Park had ceased all operations. It came just weeks after the expanded gaming bill appeared to fizzle out and die in the State Legislature.

Meanwhile, Wondy was also facing tax title issues with the City of Revere, owing the city nearly $300,000 in back taxes. A payment plan was worked out with the License Commission on August 19 so that Wonderland could keep its commuter parking license – the only source of income for the track at this time.

At the scene of the closing, some Wondy employees had harsh words for Gov. Deval Patrick, House Speaker Bob DeLeo and Sen. Pres. Therese Murray.

Those employees put the blame squarely on those politicians for the closing of the track.

They also said that Wonderland had been a great place to work.

“This was a very good job, a good place to work,” said Paul DeFilippo of Revere on the day of the closing.

However, that’s not the experience for some former Wondy employees, who said they were tired of Wonderland management being painted in such a good light.

“I am tired of them living like they’re the kings of this whole episode and they’re very sad and worried about the workers,” said the employee. “I would like to make it known they are not worried…The employees at Wonderland got screwed. The management will be fine. They’ll be millionaires when they sell the property.”

The small group of full-time union employees said that during their employment at Wonderland they never had any vacation days, no sick days or no personal days. They also said that they had no health insurance and routinely had pay cuts.

They even said that in the last year or so, Wonderland had raided employee 401K withholdings – using money withheld from paychecks to pay their own bills.

“What I’m saying is they were to hold $10 a week out of my check – $40 a month – and then when I look at my [401K] statement, that $40 a month isn’t there,” said one employee. “Eventually, they did catch up, but my union had to send a letter to them and the Attorney General had to send them a warning to get caught up. As far as I’m concerned, that’s stealing from me. If I’m entrusting you with my money and after three months the money is not there, what is that?”

The workers stated that they were a small group, but that they did speak for just about every full-time union worker that was left when the track closed.

Dalton said he would not comment on any of the above allegations made by those employees.

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