CHICAGO (CBS) — A suburban company makes millions a year providing food to airlines at both city airports.
But now it’s accused of cheating employees out of thousands of dollars in unpaid wages.
CBS 2 political investigator Dana Kozlov reports one alderman now wants them to pay up.
“They don’t care about workers. They don’t care about our life.”
Juana Peña has spent seven years working as a packer at Flying Food Group in its Schiller Park Plant.
The company supplies food to airlines at O’Hare. A certified service provider agreement with the city of Chicago makes it possible. But Peña and coworker Sergio Rodriguez recently learned the company is paying them less than the agreement requires, which is $14.10 an hour.
In Peña’s case, it’s 50 cents less an hour. In Rodriguez’s, it’s 20 cents less.
“It all adds up,” Rodriguez said. “And it’s 20 cents that they weren’t giving me before.”
Ald. Matt O’Shea (19th) is the chairman of the City Council’s Aviation Committee. He said the service agreement specifies wage requirements. But he said 70% of Flying Food Group’s 359 O’Hare-related employees aren’t getting paid what they’re owed.
And the pay stubs prove it.
“The mayor of this administration, what they’ve been working on, is protecting working families. And this is against that,” O’Shea said.
O’Shea sent a letter to Flying Food Group CEO David Cotton Thursday, putting him on notice.
“This is about making Flying Food fly right,” added O’Shea.
CBS 2 tried contacting the CEO and visited company addresses, without succes. Peña and Rodriguez know it’s risky to speak up now.
“They’re making excuses. I’m scared, but I’m here to fight for that,” said Peña.
Rodriguez, a father of five and convicted felon, said every penny counts for him.
“Yea, 20 cents ain’t much but it’s something. I don’t wanna go back on the streets,” Rodriguez said.
Ald. O’Shea said he is still waiting to hear from Flying Food Group’s CEO. In the meantime, he plans to introduce a resolution later this month that would terminate city agreements with any companies that don’t comply with them.
The alderman hopes to meet with the company next week.
He also plans to ask its CEO to give underpaid workers retropay.