New Yorkbased barge operator Bouchard Transportation may close its facilities and lay off as many 108 workers if it is unable to find a buyer for the company or its assets.
Bouchard has been in debtorinpossession financing since entering Chapter 11 bankruptcy back in September which has allowed it to continue operations.
But according to a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification posted this week on the New York State Department of Labor website, Bouchard is currently in the process of seeking a buyer for the company or its asset. If no buyer is found, the company may need to engage in employee layoffs at its Melville, New York “facility” beginning July 15 and continuing through August 15, the filing said.
“If the company closes the facility, it is expected that the majority of (or all) employees located at the facility will be permanently terminated,” the company’s notice said. The number of workers affected by the action is listed in the notice as 108.
The notice is just the latest in an ongoing saga involving Bouchard Transportation dating back to a deadly barge explosion off Port Aransas, Texas in 2017 which killed two people. Investigations into the accident called into question Bouchard’s safety culture and kicked off years of legal, financial, and Coast Guard regulatory compliance issues which seemed to come to a head early in 2020 when Bouchard crews became stranded across the country without pay and forced to remain on board their vessels.
Although Bouchard was eventually able to process back pay, problems for the company lingered and it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy back in September. A U.S. bankruptcy judge earlier this year ordered the immediate removal of the company’s CEO, Morton Bouchard.
Bouchard Transportation is an independentlyowned petroleum tug and barge company established in 1918 and based in Melville, New York. Morton ‘Morty’ Bouchard took the helm of the company in 1992, becoming the fourthgeneration of Bouchards to run the business. According to its website, the company operates 26 tugs and 25 tank barges across the United States, Canada and the Caribbean. The majority are doublehulled articulated tug and barge units (ATBs).
In April, Bouchard and three current or former officials, including Morton Bouchard, were ordered to pay $375,000 in restitution to a whistleblower who the company fired for protected activity under the Seaman’s Protection Act related to his participation into federal investigations into the 2017 barge explosion.
The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification notice listed Matthew D. Ray as the Chief Restructuring Officer.
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