Norwalk Furniture fails to make pension contributions

NORWALK Norwalk Furniture failed to make pension contributions in July and August, and the unionrepr
Cory Frolik
May 24, 2010

NORWALK

Norwalk Furniture failed to make pension contributions in July and August, and the unionrepresenting workers filed suit in U.S. District Court last week seeking the money.

The Steel Workers Pension Trust contends the labor contract with the old Norwalk Furniture mandated pension fund contributions from thecompany.

"They are required to contribute 6 percent of gross wages to the pension trust on behalf of each employee," said United Steel Workers union lawyer Basil Mangano. He declined to comment further.

The pension fund includes the retirement savings of the about 260 furniture workers who lost their jobs when Norwalk Furniture folded.

The lawsuit by the union contends Norwalk Furniture failed to pay $18,853 in both July andAugust to the pension fund.

The suit is seeking $37,707 plus attorney fees for the alleged breach of contract.

The Pension Trust is not the only group taking Norwalk Furniture to court. Since Norwalk Furniture's collapse, creditors have lined up to sue the furniture company.

The furniture company owes Sunrise Cooperative about $522,500 and National City Bank about $964,000, court records show.

Both filed civil lawsuits against the furniture maker.

Sunrise Cooperative provided fuel for Norwalk Furniture's fleet that delivered its furniture to retail outlets.

"Our suit is against Norwalk Furniture Corp., which has nothing to do with this new company that started up (Norwalk Custom Order Furniture)," said Bob Sunderman, vice president of Sunrise Cooperative. "Of course, they closed their doors, stopped payment, at that point, we needed to stake our claim and filed our suit."

National City is seeking to collect a $1 million loan it made to Norwalk Furniture in June 2006. The bank filed the lawsuit after the company defaulted, demanding the entire laon balance -- $963,803 -- plus interest.

National City and Sunrise Cooperative both were granted liens against Norwalk Furniture, but the there appears to be some resolution on the bank loan.

"National City released its judgment lien against the company real estate in Norwalk," said National City spokeswoman Kelly Wagner Amen, referring to public documents related to the case.

Generally speaking, the bank tries to hash out the best compromise possible with customers, Wagner Amen said. She declined further comment.