Saturday, July 16, 2011

Company the Mayor's economic development director called "great" for Nashville mass-fires Canadian workers, may be bankrupt

Karl Dean's man for growth, Matt Wiltshire, called unanimous council support for subsidies for the relocation of technology business IQT, "evidence that it's a great deal for the city." According to published reports from the Great White North, IQT has not been a good deal for Canadian workers. IQT laid off a thousand workers in Quebec and Ontario immediately on payday even though Canadian law requires employers to give two weeks notice and severance pay.

Some reports allege that IQT's actions are retribution for worker attempts to unionize. That would be ironic, given that Mayor Dean considers IQT's relocation a feather in his cap and that the Mayor has been endorsed by labor groups, which themselves may not actually be welcome at IQT headquarters on 2nd Avenue. If the move was made because Tennessee is a right-to-work state, then that might effectively make the workers hired here scabs. 900 Nashville workers forced to take whatever they can scrounge are cheaper than 1,200 Canadians with a higher standard of living.

However, there is a portion of the $1.61 million in incentives Mayor Dean has promised that I find particularly troubling. According to the Tennessean, $650,000 is being administered by the Metro Development and Housing Agency to help with relocation and training costs. If IQT is firing hundreds of workers with no warning or severance, is there anyone left to relocate and train? Reportedly, IQT does not list any other locations beyond Nashville and the Canadian locations. MDHA has a track record of mismanaging funds and unrealizing projects, so that $650K grant needs to be monitored and accounted for. Whatever else we do we should never trust MDHA, but always verify.

Another possible blow to the Mayor's self-congrats comes from reports that IQT may be filing for bankruptcy and in receivership. If that news proves to be true the relocation will not be the campaign talking point the Mayor may have planned on in his economic development-schools-public safety mantra.

UPDATE: The IQT co-CEO told the Tennessean newspaper in a report out Sunday that he had no comment on what implications the IQT closures would have for Nashville. A Canadian commenter below posted an unconfirmed email she says is from that same co-CEO indicating the Nashville plans will now likely not materialize.


  1. I was one of the employees left without a job at its Oshawa location. 1000+ people are left without a job, 4 weeks pay, record of employment, unable to make rent/mortgage payments, car payments, hydro and most importantly food. This is a company that did this on pay day of all days without any type of warning.

  2. Dear Mr. Mortman,

    I am emailing you as I as well as 1200 others have many questions that we all deserve answers to, and you sir, seem to be the one with the answers.
    You say you tried to keep the business afloat, I think we all understand this, I mean if I can't pay my hydro bill, rent then they get cut off and I loose them. Understandable.
    However, we also understand that we know in advance that we are getting our hydro disconnected, we know in advance as we don't pay the bill, we get notices and so forth, then the power is turned off. Again, we get this.
    What we don't understand is, how does a company that can't pay their bills, keep their employees working knowing full well that they can't pay them. Then on payday, have us working and operational for a couple hours, then escort them out of the building and then inform us once outside that we are NOT getting paid. What a double blow. We lost our jobs, our lively-hoods, but we also worked for NOTHING for a month.
    I myself am a 36 year old mom of two amazing children. My son's birthday is a month away, this mom now has to explain that there is no birthday party.
    We are now without 4 weeks or so pay, our vacation pay and our Spiff payouts that Bell paid you to pay us. Also, we are still owed our Records of Employment.
    I wonder Mr Mortman, when our 1200 families get evicted or loose our homes, are we all invited to stay in yours? Did our 1200 paychecks pay for you to open the call center in Nashville? This is just a few of the hundreds of questions we all deserve answers to. You did not only affect 1200 employee's, you affected thousands more. How can you claim bankrupsy in Canada and open shop in the United States? Again, just another question in the hundreds we have.

    I look forward to your response,


  3. 12:51 PM
    Reply ▼
    Alex Mortman
    Add to contacts
    To Dawn Chabassol
    I appreciate how you're feeling and my heart aches for your family. And all the other families that are effected by IQT's demise.
    We did not have visibility into the events of Friday until Friday morning. It was our hope and expectation that payroll would be funded, but obviously that didn't transpire.
    Due to the abruptness of our closing, we were not prepared with records of employment for each effected employee. We're going to be working on the feasibility of that on Monday.
    IQT has not opened up in Nashville, and it's likely that that opportunity will not materialize as a result of our closing in Canada.
    I was CEO of the Company for a short period of time, with the task of cleaning up the business from a financial and operational perspective. Unfortunately, the issues I faced were ultimately insurmountable. It's a failure I'll have to live with.
    I wish you well and hope only the best for your family.

  4. My husband was one of the many people from IQT left with out a job. We found this out when we walked over to his work to pick up his check with our children. He was laid off with out notice, with out his last two pay checks. No Vacation pay, no severance and no record of employment which is needed to apply for unemployment here. All of which he is legally entitled too by Canadian laws. Mr. A. Mortman has stated to a few people that he did not see this coming and had not expected this out come. As he is CFO i find this hard to believe because its not hard to miss a big red line at the bottom of your bank account. Are these the types of criminals you want to work for because that is what you will get if they manage to keep the Nashville office. This is no longer a north and south issue. No Canadian workers were informed of a new Nashville headquarters let alone been asked to move to another country. I would however be asking your mayor if IQT was given any of that 1.6 million because the sign outside of IQT Oshawa say's closed due to Bankruptcy and that translates poorly for the tax payers of Nashville as well. Mean wile the owners of this company are siting quietly in their Upper east side New York Condo's waiting for the dust to settle so they can make their next move. I have news for the Mr's Mortman and their other associates. There is no dust settling north of the boarder. The hard working people they left with out a life line are not sitting quietly. I hardly expect the city of Nashville to stand for their hard earned tax money to be tossed away. I suggest you kick up some dust yourselves. Any company that has to be bribed into your city is a not a company worth working for.

  5. I was one of IQT's former employees. When I was hired 6 months earlier we heard nothing of good things about the company and how well it was doing. They were planning on taking over the entire buidling, essentially doubling the amount of workers. They had plans with a neighbouring call center to set up a day care center at a discount for the struggling parents, they just bought some TV's for the lunch rooms. When I started this was a prospering company. About a month ago Bell, (our contract provider) had decided that it wanted our call center to go to outbound customer service calls as a pilot project. All we heard during this transition from bell is what an amazing job we are doing and how happy they were with the results and how the customers were reacting to our proactive care of their accounts. So this action by IQT came as a total surprise. IQT its not WHAT you did its HOW you did it. If moving your centers to America is what is best for the buisness then move to America. But give your employees the notice they deserve and pay them the wages they have worked hard to earn. dont just scurry back beyond the border with your pockets full of our hard earned wages, and your tail between your legs. We are not stupid. And we will get what is ours.

  6. That's a bit much with pro-union/Anti-Dean rhetoric. The mayor serves his constituents. Not some union in another country.

    That said, it's a tough blow for those who have lost their jobs.

    Since the announcement, I have never been confident that these jobs would materialize in Nashville. Can't say this makes me any more confident.

  7. Same anonymous as above...

    My thoughts immediately went to the Sommet Group and their sponsoring of the Arena.

  8. Dean has consistently demonstrated a lack of due-diligence when it comes to his decision-making.

    Though IQT likely presented a rosy picture to Dean, employees, shareholders and capital markets, in light of the Sommet Group comment, I can't help to think that Dean has an itchy trigger-finger when it comes to anything "big."

    His decision to tear down and redevelop the fairgrounds and raceway also demonstrates a lack of due-diligence (he figured it would be easy pickings and likely had no idea it would have boiled into the issue it has).

    I'm certainly pro-business, but think efforts should be focused on small to medium sized business with a potential for growth.

    Downing too many big enchiladas leads to heart-burn.

  9. Dawn,
    Kindly call me at 615-726-5968 or send e-mail at I am a journalist in Nashville working on the IQT story and trying to get in touch with you.

  10. Regarding Driver84&24's tweet:

    ".@driver84and26 @micchiato the fact that the local paper is using your site to reach someone with Itq is too funny"

    Apparently, Tennessean reporters are not allowed to make long-distance calls from Gannett offices. Apparently it is part of Gannet's austerity program.

    (Along with the pay-toilets they recently installed in the offices at 1100 Broadway).