Pipeline workers left without paychecks after contract dispute
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs Co Colorado
PARACHUTE ” A disagreement over a contract for pipeline work near Parachute has left around 150 people without pay for a little over two weeks, employees of U.S. Central Pipeline say.
U.S. Central Pipeline called an emergency meeting at noon Friday ” on payday ” and told its employees that Energy Transfer Corporation (ETC) was not paying any more to central pipeline, central pipeline employees said.
The company says ETC owes it a large amount of money, but ETC says it has paid the amount of the contract in full and even paid additional sums of money to central pipeline. The workers just want to get paid.
“They shut the job down and they’re not paying nothing,” said Brandon Thompson, of Shreveport, La. “That’s 180 hours that I’ve worked for absolutely nothing. … I’m mad about it. They owe me about $3,000.”
Thompson said he recently drove with his wife from Illinois after hearing about the job, which started about six months ago and was reportedly going fine until Friday.
A U.S. Central Pipeline (USCP) official told employees “he got the shock of his life when ETC said it was shutting him down,” Thompson said.
Thompson said he’s staying in a motel in Rifle at a cost of about $600 a week.
“They’re talking a class-action lawsuit ” man I can’t wait two years to get paid while it’s going through court,” he said. “There’s nothing I can do really. It’s not like we can show up at the yard and chain ourselves to some equipment.”
Central pipeline employee Chris Goodwin, of Douglassville, Texas, accused ETC of trying to get out of paying and blaming it on the contractor.
“They chose the company to start the job,” he said. “It seems to me that it’s only appropriate that the gas company pay for me and the other 149 people out there doing their jobs. … You’re making a billion a month and you can’t pay me my $3,000 for 19 days of labor?”
But ETC spokeswoman Vicki Granado said, “We have paid USCP in full. A dispute between USCP and its employees doesn’t really involve Energy Transfer. … We would hope that USCP would do the right thing by their employees, and doing the right thing by their employees means paying them.”
U.S. Central Pipeline vice president Tim Travis said ETC owes the company around $2.5 million.
Attorney Patrick Owen, of the Owen Law Offices of Craig and Meeker, said, “(ETC) did not pay. Because they did not pay U.S. Central Pipeline could not make its payroll.”
Owen said U.S. Central Pipeline will be filing legal action alleging ETC breached its contract.
“They breached their contract with U.S. Central Pipeline, and I’m sure you’ll hear the same thing from them ” that U.S. Central Pipeline breached their contract.”
Granado said ETC has gone above and beyond its contractual obligations and the company is working on getting a new contractor in to finish the pipeline.
“It’s always difficult,” she said. “We never want to hear about employers not treating their employees properly.”
The 24-inch natural gas pipeline was not far from being completed. It is a gathering line that takes gas from wells to a main transmission line. It starts south of Rulison and runs in a 14-mile loop reaching near Parachute.
Contact Pete Fowler: 384-9121
Post Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO
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