DECATUR, Ill. (WCIA) — Akorn Pharmaceuticals has announced they are filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy and laying off hundreds in Decatur.

In a company-wide video call, Akorn President Douglas Boothe announced to employees that Wednesday would be the last day they can visit the office to pack up their belongings.

Mayor of Decatur Julie Moore Wolfe estimates about 450 workers were laid off by Akorn.

Boothe said the company had been looking for potential buyers since last year.

“The company’s owners have just informed us they will not provide any additional financing required to run the business,” Boothe said. “Their decision leaves us, the board and the ownership and the management team, with no other alternatives to conclude the sales process and initiate bankruptcy proceedings.”

Former workers told WCIA they felt blindsided by the announcement.

“I mean, just be honest. You had people come in here two weeks ago, last week, saying they were investors, but they were really just appraisers coming to help with the filing of bankruptcy,” Tristan Probst, a worker for Akorn for nine years, said.

The pharmaceuticals company will terminate all benefits from employees at the end of the month. Boothe also said they will be unable to pay severance or provide COBRA health insurance coverage to their former employees.

Akorn previously filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2020.

According to the company’s website, the Decatur manufacturing plant was founded as Taylor Pharmaceutical in 1948. Akorn then acquired the company in 1992.

The company’s headquarters as well as a R & D facility are also located in northern Illinois.

“They’ve broken the law,” Lawmakers respond to facility closure

Congresswoman Nikki Budzinski (D-IL) said she was outraged by Akorn’s plant closure.

“I came to Congress to stand up for working people throughout our communities, and that’s exactly what I intend to do for the folks left with no job, no severance and only days left with health care coverage and no time to prepare for next steps,” the congresswoman said in a statement to WCIA.

Decatur’s state legislators were also shocked by the company’s news.

“It’s devastating news for our community,” Rep. Dan Caulkins (R-Decatur) said. “Akorn has been a fixture in Decatur for years. To be given two weeks’ notice that your job is going to be gone, is it’s going to be devastating.”

Rep. Sue Scherer (D-Decatur) believes the company broke state law. Illinois’ WARN Act requires companies of more than 75 employees to give state and local officials 60 days’ notice before a mass layoff if they are laying off more than a third of the location’s workforce, or 250 workers.

If the company is found violating the WARN Act, Akorn is liable to give backpay and benefits to their workers for every day they are in violation.

“I’m not happy that they’ve broken the law,” Scherer said. “But number one, I am just crushed about what my constituents are going through. These are hardworking people.”

Workers can file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Labor on their website.

City pitches in to help workers get back on their feet

Millikin University is also having a career fair on campus Thursday and is inviting people laid off by the company to attend, in addition to current students and alumni. The Decatur Conference Center and Hotel is also hosting a job fair on March 14 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. according to their Facebook page.

Budzinski also encourages anyone affected to attend workforce development workshops Thursday in Decatur.

Moore Wolfe believes despite the sudden news, the city will bounce back economically with help from the other manufacturing plants.

“We are rallying the resources we have from work force to economic development, to the community college,” she said.