Durham Public Schools to repay back wages | Durham County | Indy Week
Pin It

Durham Public Schools to repay back wages 

Protesters demanded that DPS pay back wages

Photo by Emma Loewe

Protesters demanded that DPS pay back wages

The Durham Public Schools system will reimburse 130 custodial workers for nearly $200,000 in back wages after the company they worked for failed to pay them. They were not paid from Oct. 16 to Nov. 5 after their contractor, Integrity Facilities Management, declared bankruptcy.

The Durham school board unanimously passed the reimbursement proposal during a special meeting Monday afternoon.

Under a convoluted employment model, Durham Public Schools has been contracting custodial workers from Durham's SSC Service Solutions, which, in turn, subcontracted from Integrity Facilities Management. Though Integrity—a maintenance service company based in Durham—went belly-up last June, custodial workers didn't learn that their missing paychecks were a result of the company's bankruptcy until Nov. 20.

Neither the attorney for Integrity Facilities Management, Florence A. Bowens, nor company president, Michael Sears, would comment for this story.

click to enlarge PHOTO BY EMMA LOEWE
  • Photo by Emma Loewe

In June, Integrity filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, which allows companies to restructure, and work toward paying their debts. According to federal bankruptcy documents, the company's debts totaled more than $642,000. That included $237,828 to the Internal Revenue Service and another $57,000 in other taxes.

Integrity was able to drastically cut expenses from Oct. 14 to Nov. 14, due in large part to a $97,864 drop in payroll payments, according to the documents.

Even so, in December the company filed for Chapter 7, a more dire form of bankruptcy that requires a company to sell its assets in order to pay off creditors. Integrity most recently listed $204,689 worth of assets—$150,000 of which is janitorial equipment. In the coming weeks, creditors will attend bankruptcy court in the hopes of being paid from the proceeds of the sale of those assets.

Last Friday morning, custodial workers and their families gathered outside the Durham Public Schools Administrative Building to protest the wage issue. "Some lost their apartments, their homes—some lost their cars through this hardship," Denise Wiggins, a custodial supervisor at Hillside New Tech High School, said at the beginning of the gathering. "People may say it's only a paycheck but that paycheck was accountable to us."

 Friday's grievances speak to a larger issue that exists outside the hallways of Durham schools. The topic of wage theft is not a new one in North Carolina, a state where employers have withheld around $33 million from workers over the last five years, according to a study by the N.C. Justice Center. Low-wage workers are far more likely to fall victim to such theft.

Signs from Friday's protests displayed messages that ranged from "Integrity, Show Some Integrity" to "DPS, Clean This Up." This slew of refrains speaks volumes to the inherent danger of outsourcing labor: it blurs the lines of accountability in the event of failure.

 Durham's school system has been contracting their janitorial work for several years and, according to a DPS representative, will continue to do so.

DPS hopes to pay workers in full by the month's end.  

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Durham County



Twitter Activity

Comments

As politics, and the judiciary in particular , become more ideological, how does expertise now weigh in the balance?

by Solomon Burnette on Judicial Candidates Used to Eschew Ideology. Not This Year. Not in Durham. (Durham County)

- in response to Mike Moore's last question:
documented below, by M1; what?
you think the cops, who …

by Chris Tiffany on The Durham Jail Charges Detainees Extra for Commissary Items, Then Uses That Money to Pay for Things Like Blankets and Sheets (Durham County)

Most Read

Most Recent Comments

As politics, and the judiciary in particular , become more ideological, how does expertise now weigh in the balance?

by Solomon Burnette on Judicial Candidates Used to Eschew Ideology. Not This Year. Not in Durham. (Durham County)

- in response to Mike Moore's last question:
documented below, by M1; what?
you think the cops, who …

by Chris Tiffany on The Durham Jail Charges Detainees Extra for Commissary Items, Then Uses That Money to Pay for Things Like Blankets and Sheets (Durham County)

And other than your own head, where was this story of the group of innocent men documented? Jail is an …

by Mike Moore on The Durham Jail Charges Detainees Extra for Commissary Items, Then Uses That Money to Pay for Things Like Blankets and Sheets (Durham County)

The other week, I witnessed the Durham police department unlawfully arrest a group of young black men with absolutely no …

by M 1 on The Durham Jail Charges Detainees Extra for Commissary Items, Then Uses That Money to Pay for Things Like Blankets and Sheets (Durham County)

These people are already being a burden on the rest of us by being engaging in behaviours that put them …

by Mike Moore on The Durham Jail Charges Detainees Extra for Commissary Items, Then Uses That Money to Pay for Things Like Blankets and Sheets (Durham County)

© 2018 Indy Week • 320 E. Chapel Hill St., Suite 200, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation