Prime Staffing closes doors; note: 'the bank shut us down'

June 22, 2012 (CHICAGO)

"I don't wanna comment. I'm so mad right now. It's crazy," said one staffer who did not want to be identified.

The company staffs events in the hospitality field and lighting industry. An employee told ABC7 that workers received an email Wednesday announcing the sudden closure and indicating Prime Industry would not be issuing any checks.

Former recruiting manager Dennis Lebda said there's been little explanation to employees or customers.

"Apparently the bank, Harris Bank, did not extend a line of credit or would not extend a line of credit to keep the business afloat and all we're asking is Harris Bank to step up and extend enough credit to pay the staff," Lebda said.

A man who answered the phone at Prime Staffing told ABC 7 he was one of the owners. He said the company had gone out of business, but could not provide any details.

"We had about 200 staff booked for this coming Saturday alone. Upon hearing this news yesterday, you know we basically walked out of the office and thought we need to do the right thing. We got on our cell phones and started calling our clients and saying you need to know what's going on. You need to know that Prime Staffing is out of business. And you need to make other arrangements," Lebda said.

Prime Staffing, which has been in business since 1993, has 2,000 workers on its call list to provide bartenders, hostesses, chefs and wait staff for big events in the Chicago area. Most recently, Prime Staffing was behind the wedding for Valerie Jarrett's daughter, attended by President Barack Obama. They also staffed the NATO dinner at The Field Museum last month.

"We work hard. At these events, we work hard -- eight to 10 hour days," Brittney Davis, Prime Staffing employee, said. "Yeah, I'm kinda salty." "I am out at least $600 off of this last two-week pay period. That's over 60 hours of work," Mathew Mustain, Prime Staffing employee, said.

Employment attorney Anne Shaw says under a relatively new state law the owners could face criminal charges if they don't pay employees.

"Under the Illinois Wage Collection Act, it puts in there the possibility of getting a misdemeanor at first. If this is not their only violation, they could be up for a felony conviction," Shaw said.

  • UPDATE: Bryan Drake, general manager of the hospitality division of Prime Staffing, tells ABC7 that George Jewell catering is expected to assist in placing out-of-work Prime Staffing workers. Prime staffers can go to 424 Wood Street in Chicago to fill out applications for employment. George Jewell catering has immediate jobs, Drake said.
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