A group of nearly 100 trucking company workers who were suddenly laid off just before the holidays in 2016 have started to receive their first backpay checks.
Just before Thanksgiving in 2016, 95 union workers — many of them truck drivers — employed by trucking company Lakeville Motor Express say that the company suddenly locked its doors at the Roseville, Minnesota location and laid them off without pay.
While the Roseville location filed for bankruptcy, the former employees said that the company simply moved to Maple Grove, Minnesota, and changed its name to LME Inc. or Finish Line Express, according to the Minnesota Star Tribune. Teamsters representing the laid off workers say that the new Maple Grove location was staffed by lower paid non-union employees from Lakeville Motor Express.
The timing of the layoffs left many workers struggling financially. Lakeville Motor Express worker Shane Thompson said at the time that his family was “struggling to figure out how we’re going to make the house payment in December.”
Teamsters filed lawsuits against Lakeville Motor Express and last year the National Labor Relations Board found that LME Inc. had essentially operated as an “alter ego” for Lakeville Motor Express.
The Minnesota Department of Labor also sued Lakeville Motor Express for wage theft in 2017.
In January 2019, the National Labor Relations Board ordered the company to pay back wages for 89 of the 95 laid off workers and to offer them new jobs that became available.
As of April 30, 2019, the National Labor Relations Board issued orders for LME Inc. to begin paying out the required back wages. Failure to begin issuing checks within 60 days would result in the judgment doubling from $1.25 million to $2.4 million.
Laid off workers have started receiving their back wages. All of the back wages must be paid by June 2024. Affected workers will receive an average total of just over $13,000.
LME Inc. officials have denied all wrong doing.