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Chick-fil-A contractors’ dispute leaves dozens of carpenters unpaid

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WEST MICHIGAN — Chick-fil-A's West Michigan debut continues to make a splash. Now, union carpenters say they were hired to build the frame of the buildings in Wyoming and Portage, but during construction in the fall, the excitement for these workers quickly wore off when final payments for their portion of the project came up short.

"My check bounced. Our checks bounced," union carpenter Eric Vinson said.

The call to "Eat Mor Chikin" led to long lines in Gaines Township and Wyoming. Those are the first two locations in West Michigan, and the company said a third location is on its way to Portage.

The fast food chain has created buzz, and it's also created jobs.

"When I started, it was a concrete slab," union carpenter Don Newhouse said.

"It was going to be an exciting project for me, taking my children there and showing them what I built," carpenter Mark Richey said.

"We go to work so we can take care of our families, our homes, our responsibilities," Vinson said.

The carpenters union, the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and Millwrights, said builder Infinity Homescapes had "insufficient funds."

In January, the carpenters union filed a construction lien against both Chick-fil-A properties, alleging Infinity Homescapes owes 24 carpenters a total of $35,000.

Union representative Kevin Klingler said, "It doesn't seem like anybody cares."

He said every company involved has done nothing but point their finger.

Vinson said his bank account was frozen, "which made it to where we owe the bank money now."

"I have four boys, and one of them needs to go see a specialist doctor," Richey said" "And my benefits weren't covered. So we couldn't afford to take our child to the specialist doctor."

"Almost lost a house," Newhouse said, who added that a friend lost her vehicle.

Here is what all parties agree on. Chick-fil-A hired Illinois-based Thorndale Construction Services as the general contractor. Thorndale hired Infinity Homescapes to build the shell of the buildings. Southeast Michigan-based Infinity Homescapes hired the workers.

"The bottom line is that we're trying to work with [Thorndale] and try to get paid for the work that we performed," said Josie Lewis, attorney for Infinity Homescapes.

Lewis said Thorndale is refusing to honor their contract. Infinity also filed a lien against the properties, alleging Thorndale owes Infinity $72,000.

Alan Horsman, president of Thorndale, said the contract with Infinity was only for $30,900 for non-union workers. He said Infinity went over budget and hired union employees at the last minute.

The dispute has left workers caught in the middle.

"Just do the right thing," said Richey. "Pay people what you owe them."

Chick-fil-A spokesperson Brenda Morrow offered this response: "This is a dispute between our general contractor, Thorndale Construction Services, Inc., and their vendor, Infinity Homescapes. Chick-fil-A, Inc. has paid all progress payments to our general contractor on time and in full. Thorndale Construction Services is working to resolve this dispute with their vendor.”

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      • Old Bob

        Did the little guy get paid? The workers in case you did not understand that part of the story. NO.

        Chick-fil-A hired Thorndale Construction Services. Thorndale hired Infinity Homescapes. Thorndale screwed the workers by not paying them.

        Chick-fil-A, Thorndale Construction Services, Infinity Homescapes. corporate America

        Workers, small guy screwed, not paid.

        I am pretty sure I wasted my time trying to explain this to you because you have no COMMON CENTS, unless you are counting your money

        • Common cents

          Chicken fil a paid a contractor in full for the job. They are now out of the equation.
          The contractor they hired Thorndale paid the sub in full for the job per their quote and signed contract. They are now out of the equation. A LOCAL company named Infinity went way over their bid and contract price and now wants someone to pay them for their screw up. The only thing you got correct is that the union workers didn’t get paid which was never in dispute. THEIR union sent them on a job that they didn’t get paid on. There is NO big corporate America screwing the little guy here. You are obviously a Libtard.

  • Chris

    Another reason to call it hate-fil-A. Not into chicken sandwiches myself, rather have Cheba Hut, Halo Burger, or Big Johns. Happy for the people that like fil-a, I got geeked when Panda came back.

  • Inez Aultman

    SHAME on Fox 17 for airing the bait for this story in such a way to lead the viewer to even infer that Chic Fil A is in any way remiss. What a poor example of journalistic integrity.

  • Joe

    Let’s think this out. Thorndale is hired by Chick-fil-A to do a job. Thorndale hires a crew that charges more than the agreed contract price. And somehow that is Chick-fil-A’s fault? I don’t see any comment from Chick-fil-A. Don’t let the facts get in the way. Shoddy journalism at it’s best.

  • Jeff Mulder

    Anyone else get that each carpenter is owed about $1,458? $35,000 owed to 24 carpenters. And someone almost lost a house, someone lost their car, someone can’t get medical services paid for? And someone’s bank account was “frozen”? Wow, good thing they’re not owed $2,000 each or it would have been wholesale bankruptcy.

  • Caje

    Another Fox 17 story promoting an agenda rather than reporting accurately. This is the recipe used: Focus on a target, write a headline that makes the target look bad, tell the story in a way that misleads the viewer to believe the inaccurate headline, then at the end of story tell the truth, which is contrary to the misleading headline. This lack of respect for 17 viewers is disheartening — I’m sad to see it.

  • Bob Neff

    I was a recipient of this mess.
    First off
    The union screwed up. Not corporate America
    It was the unions job. Per their requirements to sign a new signatory contractor. Minimum of 6 months worth of monies to cover. In case of instances like this. They did not. I repeat THEY DID NOT!!! They let him slide with a month to month agreement.
    So who really failed us??

  • Concerned Customer

    Makes Sense….Infinity Homescapes is owned by a crappy construction guy and his lying wife. Terrible place!

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