May 11 (UPI) -- As Toys 'R' Us gets ready to permanently close all of its U.S. locations, some employees are demanding the company pay them a severance.
Toys 'R' Us employees in Concord, Calif., published a petition online that asks the company to use its $470 million profit to pay employees $15,000 each in severance "for the years of hard work employees have put into the company that allowed the private equity firms to make millions in the first place."
As of Thursday night, the petition had more than 53,000 signatures.
"Tens of thousands of us are losing our jobs while Bain Capital, KKR, and Vornado received $470 million in fees and interest from their investment," Toys 'R' Us employee Colleen Kleven wrote in the petition. "Just days before filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last September, five of the top Toys 'R' Us executives received $8.2 million in retention bonuses. CEO David Brandon received $2.8 million and asked for court approval of up to another $12 million in incentive bonuses."
"There are more than 1 million retail workers at private equity-owned retailers in the United States," Kleven added. "This corporate greed is hurting me and my family -- and it's unacceptable."
Toys 'R' Us has not commented publicly on the petition.
According to Bloomberg, Toys 'R' Us employees are also lobbying Congress to put a tax on private-equity and hedge-fund profits, and enforce tougher regulation on leveraged buyouts and stock-buyback transactions.
"We're here to speak to Congress to act on these laws, to make it impossible to do this to other retail workers," Tracy Forbes, a Babies "R" Us store manager in Phoenix, told Moneywatch. "As a manager, I'm trying to make sure my team members are taken care of."
Toys 'R' Us announced in March that it would liquidate all of its stores. More than 33,000 people will lose their jobs.