ALSIP (CBS) — They spoke out against their company to get a month of back pay.  Now, at least 19 workers at Alsip’s Consumer Product Services plant got their pink slips.

Was it retaliation?  CBS 2’s Dana Kozlov asked employees and company officials.

“It’s a big smack in the face,”  Chris Kroplewski said Monday.

He is one of the workers who stood up for himself, only to get laid off.  Fellow employee Richard Hermosillo says they don’t regret making their case public.  But they can’t believe how they’ve been treated.

Andres Restrepo says he believes it was retaliation.

Restrepo and the others say ultimately they got their money, worked for a few more days and then were told by a manager, who read called some employees to say there would be “no work until further notice.”

Restrepo says new employees have replaced laid-off workers.

The company even called police on the group as they stood across the street.

CPS Operations Vice-President Robert Madden flatly denies the retaliation claim.  He says workers were paid for time on the clock plus 20 additional hours for their inconvenience.  He adds the company has financial difficulties, is reorganizing its Alsip plant and says the lack of work there is due to last month’s negative publicity.

Madden adds he hopes to add more workers soon and says some of those laid off may be brought back.

Madden also says ex-employees have threatened the facility and the manager recently.   Workers say they know nothing about that.

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