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Contractors take pay dispute to street

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POSTED: July 10, 2007 5:02 a.m.
After weeks of allegedly not being paid, four contractors working at the site of the new Fairfield Inns & Suites, took to the streets Wednesday morning.
The small group protested for nearly three hours along Highway 84, holding picket signs and expressing frustration over not being paid for their work in almost a month. The new hotel is going up behind Applebee’s restaurant in Flemington
“We have to pay our bills, we’ve got kids to feed and people that work for us that depend on us,” R&W Painting co-owner Eric Ronnbeck said. “We can’t wait no more.”
According to Roy Neely, this is not the first time workers have been stiffed by hotel owner, San Patel. Neely claimed a number of contractors have quit working at the site due to non-payment. He alleged Patel has needed to bring in new employees almost monthly since the start of construction.
The new father added he felt the owner was taking advantage of employees who cannot afford to sue in court for their wages. He said protesting was a last ditch effort to bring awareness to their plight.
“We’re just good, hardworking American guys out here trying to make a living and taking care of our families,” Neely said. “People like this are just taking advantage of people and we think the public should know about it.”
As lunchtime neared, the contractors finally received paychecks from a man who refused to identify himself, although some workers claimed he was Patel.
Patel, however, has been out of the country and will not return until the first part of July, according to a clerk at his Holiday Inn Express next to Fairfield.
When asked why it had taken so long for workers to receive payment for their services, the unidentified man said a check was given to someone who should have paid the contractors, but ran off with the money.
“He’s nowhere to find,” he said as workers signed for their checks. “We paid him, but now we can’t find him. We’ve been looking for him.”
He refused to confirm or deny claims Patel has a history of late and non-payments with contractors.
 

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