When holiday prep has you reaching the very height of stress at the “most wonderful time of the year,” think about how much worse it could be if you suddenly lost your job.
That’s the reality faced by workers at Accent Stainless Steel in Loris, South Carolina when they learned, just after Thanksgiving, that the factory where they worked would be shutting down immediately. But that’s not even the worst of it.
Let’s take a short jog back to 2015, when Accent broke ground with the promise of 65 high-paying jobs. Myrtle Beach Online says the project was being touted as the “economic savior” of Loris, a tiny town of 2,000+ that lies north of the famed seaside town.
Accent never proved itself, and the Canadian maker of brewing systems for the craft brewing industry, failed to employ more than a dozen workers in its short tenure in Loris. When DME Brewing Solutions acquired Accent, it moved forward with the abrupt closure without warning.
The median household income in 2016 in Loris was just over $37K, which makes this next point even harder to hear: when Accent-now-DME closed its doors, the company failed to pay its employees for their final period of work or compensate them for their unused paid vacation time.
But it gets worse.
When employees received their wages via direct deposit for the pay period prior to their last, the transactions were allegedly reversed a week later and the money they’d earned was removed from their bank accounts.
DME is now a target for insolvency proceedings in its native Canada, but its American workers were told through a corporate liaison that they should not expect any future payments from the company. For now, some employees have filed complaints with the Department of Labor, but they don’t know where else to turn besides potentially filing a lawsuit.
At least one group got out with their money: the Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corporation had approved economic development credits at the outset of the Accent project but, because they never reached their first hiring milestone of 20 workers, the payments were never issued. That same regional agency says it’s helping the displaced workers find new jobs, but that it doesn’t know what can be done to recoup the lost wages.