LTL Carrier Abruptly Shuts Down Leaving “Over 600” Employees Out Of Work
New Brighton, Minnesota – Less-than-load carrier, LME, Inc. abruptly shut its doors on Thursday without providing required 60-day layoff notices to its more than 600 employees.
News of the company’s closure broke late on Thursday afternoon after the company posted a sign at its headquarters that states, “LME IS CLOSED FOR BUSINESS.”
LME’s company website states, “Effective immediately LME will no longer be accepting any pickups.”
Sources tell Transportation Nation Network (TNN) that drivers were informed on Thursday to remove their personal belongings from trucks and the company’s facilities.
Additionally, sources indicate LME employees are unsure if and when they will be paid for work completed since their last pay day.
LATEST ON LME SHUT DOWN
According to its website, the company employed “over 600 men and women, operating over 1,200 tractors and trailers,”
The company says it has terminals in 30 locations across the U.S. and lists its major accounts to include: 3M, John Deere, Osram Sylvania, Brake Parts and Toro.
Further, it indicates the company’s primary service areas are Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin.
Saferwatch lists the company as having 382 power units and 424 truck drivers.
Companies that employ at least 100 workers who put in at least 4,000 hours of aggregate labor per week are required to provide 60-day layoff notices to workers under the Worker Adjustment Retraining Notification (WARN) Act.
It is unclear at this time why LME did not do so.
Controversy Goes Back To 2016
LME has been at the center of litigation with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and the Minnesota Department of Labor stemming from the 2016 closure of Roseville, MN-based Lakeville Motor Express.
Just before Thanksgiving of that year, Lakeville Motor Express filed for bankruptcy and suddenly shut its doors laying off 95 union drivers and dockworkers without pay.
Former employees alleged that the company moved its operations, changed its name to LME, Inc. or Finish Line Express, and staffed the carrier with “non-union” workers, according to the Minnesota Star Tribune.
The Teamsters filed formal complaints on behalf of the workers with the state and the NLRB.
Last year, the NLRB said its investigation found wrongdoing and described LME as an “alter ego” of the defunct Lakeville Motor Express.
LME officials strongly denied the NLRB’s findings.
However, in January of this year the two sides agreed to a “settlement,” according to the Minnesota Star Tribune.
Roger Wilsey, chief executive of LME said the company agreed to the terms “just to be done with it… instead of paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees.”
The company agreed to issue back wages of $1.25 million to 89 of the 95 workers before June 2024.
Additionally, the NLRB ordered LME to cease and desist from non-union activity.
Further, the settlement required LME to first offer any new job openings to the affected workers.
As of April 30, 2019, the NLRB issued orders for LME to begin paying out the required back wages warning that failure to begin doing so within 60 days would result in the judgment ballooning from $1.25 million to $2.4 million.
In June, the first of the payments were made.
Disaffected workers confirmed to the Minnesota Star Tribune they had received their first payments.
LME didn’t just get tangled up with the NLRB.
The Minnesota Department of Labor also sued Lakeville Motor Express for wage theft in 2017.
That case was also settled this year with LME agreeing to pay the bankruptcy trustee $567,500 to cover back wages and other damages, according to bankruptcy court papers.
Stay with TransportationNation.com for the latest developments on this story.