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Contractor Bounces Paychecks For Walter Reed Janitors

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Members of the local union representing janitors at the Walter Reed hospital protest the contractor Escab.
SEIU
Members of the local union representing janitors at the Walter Reed hospital protest the contractor Escab.

Officials with the union representing janitors at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda say the company that bounced their paychecks still owes them. Workers say they have gone unpaid for more than two weeks.

Gabriel Rivera is one of about 250 workers who haven't been paid by their employer Escab Enterprises. Escab provides the cleaning staff to Walter Reed, which pays Escab, and Escab pays the janitors. That's how it's supposed to work, but Rivera says late in October, something went wrong.

"The first time was on Oct. 25, we received our payment and tried to cash our checks and they actually bounced," says Rivera.

Rivera also says the company also stopped paying health insurance premiums.

"The last time this company paid on our insurance was in June," he says.

The Naval Facilities Engineering Command administers Escab's contract with Walter Reed. Spokesperson Regina Adams says Escab wasn't paid due to an incorrect invoice, but it has been corrected.

"A revised Sept. 12 invoice was submitted, and as of today, the money was released to them," says Adams.

Late Tuesday, workers received checks to cover the back pay. Rivera deposited his check today — he won t know if it good until tomorrow.

"Kinda worries me," says Rivera. "I'm head of this family, and I have bills to pay."

Jaime Contreras is the vice president of Service Employees International Union Local 32, the union which represents the workers. Contreras says that although officials from Escab have attempted to make good on the missing payroll, some deducted funds are missing.

"Escab owes union funds, and over $800,000 in health care premiums," says Contreras. "They also owe union dues that have been deducted from the workers pay that they haven't sent in. We're also worried about what's going to happen in two weeks with the workers' checks. Are they going to get paid? Are the checks going to clear?"

Calls to Escab Enterprises have not been returned.

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