Flint worker wants answers following firing from area manufacturing plant

Published: Aug. 7, 2020 at 11:01 PM EDT
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FLINT, Mich. (WJRT) (08/07/2020)-A local woman is wondering precisely why she’s out-of-work tonight. It’s a new development tied to a story ABC 12 first brought you in April, when a number of concerned workers at the same Flint manufacturing plant stepped forward to cry foul.

“After everything I’ve been through, that was the last thing I needed.”

ABC 12 first introduced Kayde Cronkright in April, when she spoke out against her employer, Premiere Packaging. She joined others in pointing out some of the company’s allegedly unsafe practices following the Flint manufacturing plant’s first COVID diagnosis. The plant came to a full stop days later when a number of other workers tested positive and Kayde turned to ABC 12 for action.

“They’re making us feel unsafe and as if we’re not cared about,” explained an exasperated Kayde in the midst of an April 17th telephone interview. “Our health is very important right now and should be cared about. It’s not.”

Not long after the shutdown, Kayde’s life took another unfortunate turn.

“My boyfriend… tested positive for it,” explained Cronkright. “I took care of him during that time, so I ended up getting it.”

Both worked on Premiere’s line three. Kayde quarantined until she was in the clear and went back to work around Mid-May. That clean bill of health, unfortunately, wouldn’t last.

“I ended up having a fever again,” related Cronkright. “I went in, I got tested again and I tested positive again… I was in the ICU for five days.”

Until August fourth, when doctors finally gave her the green light to return to the line, but not the welcome Kayde expected. Cronkright says she was asked to fill out new hire paperwork on her second day back, even though she’d already been on the job. When she questioned that request, Cronkright says she was fired.

“Their reasoning [for requiring new-hire paperwork] was I was gone for too long and it wouldn’t be fair to the other employees,” explained Cronkright. “How is it fair to me?”

ABC 12 reached out to Premiere Packaging by phone Friday. The company requested specific questions. Our news team sent its human resources department a list in response, all of which were met with the following statement:

“Premiere Packaging operates in the confines of the law and we have no comment regarding confidential personnel matters.”

“Do you sincerely believe this was retaliatory,” questioned this reporter.

“Honestly, yes I do,” responded Cronkright.

Current state law prevents employers from coronavirus related firings and retribution. Kayde tells ABC 12 she plans to file suit for wrongful termination.

Copyright 2020 WJRT. All rights reserved.

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