More than a month after Kingsport Manufacturing Company, Heritage Glass, first addressed reports of unpaid employees, Wednesday, News Channel 11 sat down with the company for the first time.
We also obtained new information from the state. Bottom line? Employees are still owed thousands of dollars.
Heritage Glass announced it was “temporarily suspending operations” two weeks ago. Numerous employees took their unanswered questions and concerns to News Channel 11’s Kylie McGivern.
Two days after the plant suspended its operations, we found out four employees had submitted wage complaints to the state, saying Heritage Glass owed them anywhere from around $1,500 to $2,000. The number of official complaints has since grown to nine.
“It’s starting to get really tight now,” Heritage Glass employee Gabe Ward said.
Last Friday, employees say Heritage Glass showed its first sign of progress in weeks, paying the second half of monies owed from their May 1st paycheck.
Thing is, the company still owes employees money. And answers, many have told us, are hard to come by.
“I don’t know, I don’t know what’s going on,” Ward said. “We just, everybody just want some answers. You know, we want to know whether to put this behind us and move on, to keep us from being in limbo, to go on with our lives just, we need some kind of closure.”
The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development told us, “Since the company closed its doors, it is unlikely that we will be able to collect additional money for the employees or penalties as a result of the employer’s failure to timely pay employees. If we are unable to assist, we refer complainants to small claims court.”
“The department received a total of nine complaints and made numerous attempts to speak with the business after the business closed, but no calls have been returned,” the state said.
Our calls were never returned either. Not until we showed up. While talking with Gabe Ward outside Heritage Glass, News Channel 11 was invited inside and sat down with co-owner Vic Davis. While he wouldn’t go on camera, he did tell us the company is doing everything in its power to pay employees as quickly as possible.
In our conversation, Davis told us:
“As money is available, we are issuing payroll checks.”
“Hourly employees have all been paid first, and managers second.”
“We had managers volunteer to hold paychecks”
“The president of the company has not received a paycheck since all the problems started.” (Two months ago.)
“We will know our destiny in the next two weeks.”
In the meantime, he said glass is still being sold and shipped.
Davis told News Channel 11, to his knowledge, every employee has received a layoff slip. But when we asked Ward and one of the several other employees who have reached out to us, the two said they have not.
By law, the “WARN Act” requires employers to send a written notice to the state 60 days in advance of a plant closure or mass layoff. At this time, the state has not received any notice.
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