WAUKESHA (WITI) — After closing unexpectedly on Saturday, January 5th, and providing no information to the media or workers for days, on Wednesday, January 9th, the owners of Golden Guernsey Dairy explained why they shut down the plant and filed for bankruptcy.
For much of the week, workers have sat outside the plant, waiting for answers, as the gates remained locked.
Security officials surrounded the building after the company shut down its operation over the weekend.
From his Los Angeles office, CEO Andrew Nikou spoke with FOX6 News on Wednesday.
“My deepest concerns and feelings go to the families. It is a very tough situation. This is not number one priority for us. This was not number one choice to shut down Golden Guernsey,” Nikou said.
Nikou’s company, OpenGate Capital filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy for its Golden Guernsey portfolio on Tuesday. Nikou blames the company’s downfall on suppliers, who refused to change their prices during turbulent times, and expensive union contracts.
“There was multiple times that earlier, five months ago, they came to us and the union actually went to them with a huge cost savings, and they just never even contacted us about it,” Nikou said.
Workers say they were never approached about taking a cut. They say they are more upset the company has yet to contact them after locking the doors.
Nikou says his legal team advised him to keep quiet about closing the Waukesha plant — a move that may be against state law. Wisconsin companies with over 50 employees are required to notify the state and, in most cases, give 60 days notice to employees.
“I can tell you that everything that we’ve done has been by the book,” Nikou said.
On Wednesday, the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development announced it is working with the Wisconsin Department of Justice to file a lien against OpenGate Capital — a move that if successful, could ensure employees are paid what they are owed.
Nikou said pay outs are being worked on.
“Everything that is due in customary fashion will be taken care of,” Nikou said.
Workers, however, say this is an empty promise.
“It is just appalling to me that a company from California who owns tons and tons of businesses operate like this on a daily level. It is just an absolute shame. They should be ashamed of themselves,” one former Golden Guernsey Dairy worker told FOX6 News.
Nikou said his own actions were unacceptable. He said he has never had a business fail before, and said there will be better communication in the future. This, as workers continue to wait for information.