Knoxville janitorial workers caught in the middle of dispute

Knoxville janitorial workers caught in the middle of dispute with no paychecks

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It's been a frustrating two weeks for the women. Since they live paycheck to paycheck, missing a payday or two hurts. It's been a frustrating two weeks for the women. Since they live paycheck to paycheck, missing a payday or two hurts.
"The excuse was they didn't get the money, so if they don't get paid, we don't get paid," said Lizabeth Hutchins. She says someone is getting paid, but it isn't them. "The excuse was they didn't get the money, so if they don't get paid, we don't get paid," said Lizabeth Hutchins. She says someone is getting paid, but it isn't them.
"We've been getting different stories from him ever since we filled out that paperwork for ABM," said Danielle Parker. "We've been getting different stories from him ever since we filled out that paperwork for ABM," said Danielle Parker.
"I owe for rent. I owe for phone bill. I'm like anybody else: I owe, so off to work I go. Then I get there and I don't get paid for it, so it is frustrating," said Karla Hood. "I owe for rent. I owe for phone bill. I'm like anybody else: I owe, so off to work I go. Then I get there and I don't get paid for it, so it is frustrating," said Karla Hood.

By DON DARE
6 On Your Side Consumer Investigator

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - A group of women who work for a local janitorial service are asking where their money is.

It's been a frustrating two weeks for the women. Since they live paycheck to paycheck, missing a payday or two hurts.

We usually don't see them working, but big department stores will have a cleaning crew that comes in early before the store opens.

Most of the time, the crew works part-time and are paid minimum wage every two weeks.

The women 6 On Your Side talked with were last paid at the end of December.

"We worked, we continued working up until Sunday," said Karla Hood.

Hood is referring to Sunday, January 26. That's when her supervisor Danielle Parker and coworker Lizabeth Hutchins stopped working for a local independent cleaning service that has janitorial crews at two Belk stores in Knoxville.

"Everybody had their own position. You had a bathroom person who also did the doorways," said Parker.

"We did bathrooms, mop, sweep, stock," said Hutchins.

The women worked part time, seven days a week, three to four hours a day. They received paychecks in the middle and end of December, but none since. They say they were supposed to be paid on January 15.

They were employed by Lancaster and Sons Cleaning Service, which is a subcontractor for ABM, a nationally operated janitorial service.

This work crew's paychecks came every two weeks from Lancaster and Sons.

"The excuse was they didn't get the money, so if they don't get paid, we don't get paid," said Hutchins. She says someone is getting paid, but it isn't them.

The women earned eight dollars an hour and were happy to have a job.

"I owe for rent. I owe for phone bill. I'm like anybody else: I owe, so off to work I go. Then I get there and I don't get paid for it, so it is frustrating," said Hood.

The women say they went to their store at West Town Mall on Jan. 27 and talked with the local director of ABM Onsite Janitorial Service.

"He says to us, 'Come fill out some paperwork. I am going to make sure you guys get paid.' Those were his words, exact words," said Parker.

But the next day, the prospect of getting paid changed.

"All of a sudden everything turned around to: 'You'll have to get a hold of Lancaster and Sons. They're the ones that owe you the money,'" explained Hood.

"We do all the work and don't get paid," lamented Hutchins.

6 On Your Side talked with Phil Turman, the local supervisor for ABM. He said the women should have gotten their checks from Lancaster and Sons since the local cleaning service had been paid on the day of our interview. Now, the women don't know what to believe.

"We've been getting different stories from him ever since we filled out that paperwork for ABM," said Parker.

"Trust me, if that had been the deal, I would have been there," said Jeffrey Lancaster.

Lancaster said he doesn't know what ABM is talking about.

"When are these women going to be paid?" we asked. "As soon as they pay us," replied Lancaster.

Each side blames the other and this work crew is caught in the middle without their paychecks and without straight answers.

The trio has gone to the Tennessee Department of Labor. They were told their employer, Lancaster and Sons, has 21 days to pay them before the women can file a complaint.

As of February 3, 15 days have gone by with no money.

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