The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Local and State News

February 5, 2013

Vance workers still waiting on paychecks

ENID, Okla. — Employees of a Vance Air Force Base subcontractor still are waiting for a resolution to the problem that has left some of them without pay for the past month.

Employees of Project Resources Inc./Del-Jen Inc. have seen their paychecks shrink after a change was made in their health insurance on Jan. 1.

Last June, a new three-year collective bargaining agreement was approved by members of the union representing most contract employees at Vance, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Local Lodge 898. Under the new CBA, each company covered by the contract — CSC, DenMar Services, M1 Support Services and PRI/DJI — has the same health, dental and vision insurance, provided by IMA Benefit Trust. Previously, each company’s employees were insured by a different carrier. That apparently has caused the paycheck irregularities, though the rest of the companies involved handled the switch with no problems.

Employees who didn’t want their identities used for fear of reprisal said their paychecks were cut by as much as $1,000 — and, in fact, at least one employee ended up owing the company money.

Three anonymous female employees said PRI/DJI has said nothing to employees about the situation as of Tuesday afternoon. One said the union representing most contract employees at Vance, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Local Lodge 898, told employees Tuesday the company had admitted making a mistake and “they are going to try to get paychecks right next Friday (Feb. 15),” while the other said no such admission of error was made and the pay situation won’t be corrected until “at least March 1.” Then there will be the matter of paying employees the money they should have received in previous paychecks.

Jon Hulsey, program director for PRI/DJI at Vance, said he could not comment on the ongoing situation. Rick Boardman, directing business representative for IAMAW District Lodge 171 couldn’t be reached for comment.

One female employee, who said she received a paycheck for $0, said employees have resorted to utilizing food banks like Loaves and Fishes and North Garland Church of Christ to help feed their families.

“It is really embarrassing,” she said, “since it is through no fault of our own we have to go to the food bank.”

She told of one PRI/DJI employee who was just $800 from paying off her truck, but is now going to lose the vehicle because she can’t make her payments after having her pay cut drastically.

Another female employee said the union has set up a food bank at the union hall, passing out food and cash for members who work for PRI/DJI.

“We feel the union is helping us, but the company is at a standstill, they are dragging their feet as long as they can,” said one female employee.

“It’s like they don’t care about the people,” said another. “We haven’t missed a day of work since this happened. We have been faithful to the company. We expect them to say, ‘we’re real sorry, we’re working on it,’ but not a word. It is very aggravating, and hard to put in a good eight hours for them.

“It is hard to sit and say, ‘OK, we’ll wait.’ You know how scary that is for somebody behind in their payments? It is scary.”

One employee said she has had $1,000 cut from her paycheck in the past four weeks.

“I was lucky, I was a month ahead on my house payment so I just let that go,” she said. “It comes down to, what do I pay, where do I go?”

She called the situation “very discouraging.”

“We hope we will hear something from our boss, but there is nothing but complete silence,” she said. “It is very discouraging. I don’t understand why our boss doesn’t address his people, through email or something. I think he could help with some of those fears. Are we going to survive this or not?

“It is a helpless feeling. What is wrong with this company? Why would they not want to communicate with their employees?”

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