UPDATE: On Friday, the general contractor sent over a check covering the lien. "While this still does not cover the entirety of the missing wages, the payment is a victory for workers," Workers Defense Project says in a statement.
"By ensuring that workers are paid for their work, Aldi Supermarket is demonstrating a commitment to a responsible business model and is acting as a model for all businesses to follow," the group adds.
On the phone today, the subcontractor accused of dropping the ball confirmed that he had received invoices for around $20,000 from the workers. But he claims that the workers had agreed beforehand to do additional work on the Aldi store for free.
"All their invoices were falsified," says Dion Islas, the owner of Advanced Electric. Islas says the workers had signed papers agreeing only to be paid for a certain time period, and then "the only times they were on the job after that point were to repair their own mistakes," he says.
Five construction workers who worked on a new Aldi store in Roanoke say they still haven't been paid for their work, nearly a year later. They're asking for a total of $20,000 and have filed a lien on the property in an attempt to get some of the money back.
In construction-pay fights, it's common for big companies to toss the blame down on their underling contractors, and this case is no different. In a statement, Aldi says that it's been "made aware of this situation" by iConstruct, its contractor. "We understand that iConstruct is working diligently to resolve the situation," an Aldi spokesman says by email.
Chris Carter, the attorney for iConstruct, puts all the blame on Advanced Electric, the Dallas-based subcontractor who brought the workers in as independent contractors. Carter says his company received a lien for $5,228 and wrote a check in that amount to Advanced Electric, but claims that Advanced Electric won't pick up the check or sign it. "I'm not aware of why Advanced Electric won't execute this check," Carter says. "We've tried on multiple occasions to get him to execute this check."
The workers are being represented by Workers Defense Project, the Texas-based workers rights group that has described liens as a powerful tool to hold both the subcontractor and corporate boss accountable. "Despite the lien, Aldi continues to deny responsibility," Workers Defense Project says in a press release.
A voicemail left for Advanced Electric wasn't immediately returned.
Send your story tips to the author, Amy Silverstein.