ROCKLAND — The former owner of a plant that manufactures a food additive has agreed to pay $695,000 to workers who claim the company stole wages from them when it sold the business as part of a multibillion-dollar deal in 2017.

The lawsuit was filed against FMC Corp. in Knox County Superior Court in March 2019. The lawsuit was moved to U.S. District Court in Portland in June and terms of the agreement filed Friday must be approved by a federal judge.

FMC sold the plant on the Rockland waterfront in November 2017 to DowDuPont. The property is currently listed under Dupont Nutrition U.S.A., Inc.

The plant produces carrageenan, a food additive that is used for thickening, gelling and stabilizing products such as ice cream, salad dressing and toothpaste.

Workers claim they did not receive their accrued vacation time for 2017 when the sale occurred. The lawsuit points out that FMC had a policy to pay out accrued vacation time when employment with FMC ended for workers.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of five longtime workers: Todd Conant of Rockport, who had worked for FMC since 1991; Thomas Ames of Owls Head, who had worked for FMC since 1991; Gregory Gould of Rockland, who had worked there since 1994; Rodney Mason, who had worked for FMC since 1990; and Karen Migliore, who had worked for the company since 2000.

The five sought to make the case a class-action lawsuit with any settlement going to all workers who qualified. The agreement estimates 107 people will qualify for a share of the $695,000.

Workers with 20 or more years of service with FMC were entitled to five weeks of vacation annually.

Attorneys’ fees, court costs and any other expenses will be paid out of the settlement amount.

The most any individual worker will receive is slightly more than $7,000.

The plant has been at Crockett’s Point in Rockland since 1936, when Algin Corp. started the business of converting seaweed into carrageenan. FMC purchased the company in 1977 and operated it until the November 2017 sale.

FMC denies any wrongdoing, or legal liability “but has concluded further litigation would be protracted, expensive, and would divert management and employee time and attention; that there are uncertainties and risks inherent in the action; and that it is appropriate to fully and finally settle.”

The workers are represented by attorneys Carol Garvan, David Webbert, Max Brooks, and Valerie Wicks, all of Augusta.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.