FRANKLIN, VA — The union representing employees laid off from ATC Panels particleboard plant approximately 16 months ago is continuing to press for severance pay.

According to a report by the Tidewater News, the union contests that the plant is closed and that the workers are owed severance pay. Officials of ATC, owned by a Chilean group of investors, contend that the plant is merely idled. The company told the newspaper they are seeking new investor funding to reopen the plant that has been idle since Oct. 10, 2008.

Rodolfo Salman, a spokesman for ATC, told the newspaper that the company’s plant to reopen the plan is contingent on starting up a furniture plant in the same facility or nearby.

“We are hopeful we could (reopen),” Salman said. “We’re trying to find an investor group to do it, and to get the state to help. We’re trying to find a possibility to bring other manufacturing companies that would establish their operations in Franklin so we could restart the plant and have them consume there and compete with China.”

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