Lender To Be Paid In-Full Before You Will Be, LME Execs Tell Employees
New Brighton, Minnesota – Leaders of the recently shuttered 400-truck carrier, LME, Inc., say it may be a while before employees receive back pay owed to them, that is, if they receive any money at all.
Questions have been swirling among the company’s more than 600 disaffected employees since the carrier closed its doors last Thursday, July 11 with little warning.
LME management has been tight-lipped about the decision to suddenly shut the company down.
However, on Sunday, LME executives posted a new message on its website for those looking for answers amid the controversial closing.
The statement reads:
Unfortunately our lender is in control of all finances. The lender must be paid all monies owed to the lender first before payment can be made to the employees. This process will take at least 90 days if not longer. Updates will be provided over time. -LME Inc.
The less-than-load carrier failed to provide 60-day layoff notices to workers required under the federal Worker Adjustment Retraining Notification (WARN) Act.
Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development officials are reportedly seeking an explanation from LME’s executive leadership about the company’s failure to do so.
Former LME driver Joe Habeck told Transportation Nation Network (TNN) the company messaged him last Thursday at 3:45 p.m. that his remaining two scheduled pickups for the day had been canceled.
Further, the message instructed him to return to the Courtland, MN terminal.
Once he arrived, Habeck says an LME official told him, ““Grab your stuff. We are closed. Don’t come back. Good luck.”
Former LME employees TNN has spoken with each say they did not receive their final paychecks on Friday.
Sources tell TNN that LME’s policy is to hold two weeks of pay.
Since LME allowed workers to put in almost a full week of work last week, the company has left nearly three weeks of wages unpaid to hundreds of its employees, according to those with direct knowledge of the situation.
Employees like Habeck are scrambling to make ends meet in light of the abrupt closing.
The 53-year-old husband, father, and grandfather said he’s not sure what to do next.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do. I’ve got no health insurance now. I have $200 in savings and a car payment due next week,” Habeck said.
He called LME’s handling of the situation, “the dirtiest thing I’ve ever seen.”
LME was reportedly under financial pressure due to recent settlements with the Minnesota Department of Labor and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) stemming from the abrupt closure of Roseville, MN-based Lakeville Motor Express in 2016.
As part of the terms of the recent settlement with the NLRB, LME agreed to issue back wages of $1.25 million to 89 former Lakeville Motor Express workers before June 2024.
Under intensifying threats by the NLRB, LME made its first payment to workers last month.
The carrier also reached a settlement agreement with the Minnesota Department of Labor after it sued Lakeville Motor Express for wage theft in 2017.
Earlier this year LME agreed to pay the bankruptcy trustee $567,500 to cover back wages and other damages, according to bankruptcy court papers.
TransportationNation.com will have even more developing news on this story soon.
So, stay logged on for the latest.
(featured image shared courtesy of Adam Kurtz/Grand Forks Herald)
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