Workers waiting for back wages are frustrated after Northern Beef Packers asked a bankruptcy court to approve $2 million in financing to pay other expenses, including compensation for managers and lawyers.
The Aberdeen plant laid off its workers and filed for bankruptcy at the end of July. Workers say the plant still owes them wages and compensation for benefits.
Those employees who weren't getting paid will have to wait until the plant is sold in December before they have the chance to collect any money. That's not sitting well with many workers waiting for their owed wages.
When the plant still had employees showing up for work but told them they'd have to wait for their checks, Perry Chogolmad said he trusted the money would come.
"They'd tell us, 'Don't worry about it,' you know. 'We got your back. That's the first thing in our priority is to get you guys paid,'" Chogolmad said.
When the company laid off its workers, Chogolmad didn't know what to expect anymore. Some of the workers went a couple weeks without a paycheck, some longer.
"It was a struggle the first couple weeks, there's no doubt about that," Chogolmad said.
Chogolmad has another job now so he's sitting better, but he could still use the money he earned. That's why he's frustrated he has to wait as he hears the plant asking to borrow money to pay other expenses.
"For them to not pay me and want money to do other things that just goes to show we weren't their number one priority," Chogolmad said.
He wonders how much of the owed money he'll see or if he'll ever see it at all.
"I'm just trying to be happy with what I've got right now. I mean, at least I still have my family, I still have my son and everything so hopefully everything pans out in the future," Chogolmad said.
Workers we've talked with say they also want compensation for vacation time earned. And they say the company took money from their checks for health insurance during the month of June but it didn't pay the insurance company.
A lawyer for the plant says $1 million will be set aside after the sale of the plant for employees to claim wages and benefits.