PAPILLION, NE – Some 140 workers at an Amazon distribution center in Papillion have still not been paid for two weeks of work done in August.
Dan Riskowski, organizer for the North Central States Regional Council of Carpenters, said workers are owed approximately half a million dollars in wages and benefits. He recounted after one week’s paychecks were held up, a superintendent assured workers they would be paid the following week and urged them to keep working.
“So they did, and they worked another week,” Riskowski explained. “The superintendent came up to them with no explanation, no reason behind it, and said ‘IMI is out of money. Sorry, but last week and this week we cannot pay you,’ and walked off.”
IMI Material Handling Logistics was contracted by Honeywell Intelligrated for work at the Amazon distribution center originally set to open this year. Soon after IMI left, another subcontractor, RPM Installation LLC, continued the project of installing conveyors, using different workers.
Riskowski noted Amazon and its subcontractors have been silent after the union requested workers be paid. Neither Amazon nor its subcontractors have responded to a request for comment.
Many workers traveled to Nebraska for jobs promised to last up to eight months. Riskowski pointed to one couple who left their kids with grandparents on a promise to return to visit once a week. But because they have not been paid, they became stranded after running into some car problems.
“So they’re working on getting their car fixed, well in this time of getting their car fixed is when they lost their job,” Riskowski emphasized. “They can’t pay for the repairs, they can’t get their car, they can’t get home to see their kids. It’s just a nightmare.”
Meanwhile, completion of the distribution center project has been delayed. City officials say Amazon cited “supply chain issues,” but other reports suggest the giant retailer is scaling back.
The union has filed 32 liens with the Sarpy County Register of Deeds, which should hold up any future sale of the property until workers are made whole. But Riskowski added he is hopeful Amazon will do what’s right, as the project’s general contractor with deep pockets, and pay workers what they are owed.
“Amazon really just simply can’t turn a blind eye to this situation,” Riskowski asserted. “And to allow a new subcontractor basically to come in and pick up where IMI left off, that is unacceptable. They need answers and they need their payment.”