Workers stage sit-in at Alsip plant

December 21, 2010 3:03:55 PM PST
Workers at a south suburban company say their employer is the Grinch who stole their Christmas. They claim they haven't been paid for weeks. So, Tuesday, they just stopped working.

The owners of Consumer Product Services in Alsip claim the checks are on the way.

But, since there are only a few days before Christmas, the workers say they can't wait any longer.

The company says it is intent on catching up on back pay and making workers happy, but employees say they are anything but. They say they have heard one too many times that the check is in the mail and have decided to take action.

Chris Kroplewski says he thought he was thrown a lifeline three months ago when he was hired at Consumer Product Services after being unemployed for a year.

But soon after he started working at the company that reconditions large appliances, Kroplewski says there was a big problem: He would go weeks at a time without getting paid.

"Friday comes around, and we finish up our day, and they tell us Monday. And Monday comes and it's the same story, get back to work," said Kroplewski.

Kroplewski said the last time he was paid was two weeks ago. Before that, he said, some checks bounced.

Kroplewski and his coworkers have stopped working until they get their paychecks. It's the second time they have gone on strike in about two months. The first time, they said, management tried to intimidate them with a proposed contract citing tardiness and work stoppage as grounds for termination.

"I am here for the money owed to me and the money they're using to float the company along," said Andres Restrepo, employee.

A spokesperson for the New York-based company admits the company has had financial problems as they try to expand, but money is on the way.

Spokesperson Stephanie Stern said, "Consumer Product Services is doing everything it can to get everyone at the Alsip plant paid by tomorrow at the latest. Consumer Product VP of Operations Rob Madden is flying from New York and will be at plant to hand out checks to make wages current."

As for the employees, they say it is what they need to provide for their families.

"They want to pay their bills and maybe give their kids something for Christmas," said Kroplewski.

A company spokesperson says management is working to solve financial problems while at the same time expanding the business and workforce.


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