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Workers Say They're Stranded

Published On: Jan 22 2013 04:55:00 PM CST
Updated On: Feb 15 2013 05:09:49 AM CST

***UPDATE WEDNESDAY 1:35 P.M.*** The Georgia workers tell ABC 17 News they are being driven back to Atlanta by an employee of Aspen Heights Wednesday afternoon after a week in Columbia. ***ORIGINAL STORY*** More than one dozen temporary workers have been stranded in Columbia since last week and may finally be on their way back home to Atlanta. The men are laborers who answered a Craigslist ad from a temp agency, Everything Staffing, then signed a contract with a construction subcontractor, Black Sparta LLC. They were told the job would pay $1000 per week plus food, lodging and travel expenses. When they got to Columbia last week, they realized they weren't qualified for the jobs - the contractors on site at Aspen Heights student homes wanted framers, not laborers. The men claim they bought tools and worked on site for two days, but have never been paid. Tuesday night, they were being told they would have to leave the Econo Lodge on I-70 Drive Southwest the next morning because of thousands in unpaid bills. "Ain't no per diem, ain't no food, ain't none of that," said Berceneas Cosby. "He asked for 40 framers and 10 laborers, he ended up with the opposite." Cosby is one of the men stranded in Missouri. Now he says he's going to seek a class-action lawsuit against the temp agency, Everything Staffing and Black Sparta. ABC 17 News spoke to Bobby Blanks, the owner of Everything Staffing of Marietta, GA, on Tuesday. Blanks says his company entered into an agreement with Black Sparta, LLC based on meetings he had with Ruben Jones. Blanks says he saw business information and a website for the company. As of Tuesday, Black Sparta LLC didn't have a website, their listed phone number had been disconnected and the address listed online tracks back to an extended stay hotel in Stone Mountain, GA. Cosby said the men arrived on site and worked two and a half days before being todl they wouldn't be used anymore. They were left without pay, food or a place to stay. Another contractor on site told ABC 17 News he had been trying to get donations. Everything Staffing also said it had been working with local churches to get donations. Aspen Heights spokesman Stuart Watkins issued the following statement Tuesday evening: "Aspen Heights is researching the facts and details pertaining to the group of individuals who responded to a staffing agency inquiry unaffiliated with Aspen Heights. This particular issue is directly between a staffing agency, construction subcontractor and its employees; however we are looking into ways to help the individuals that are stranded in Columbia, Mo. At this time, the individuals affected have not reached out to Aspen Heights for support." Several class-action lawsuits have been threatened in the case. The state attorney general's office said Tuesday it had received one anonymous complaint about Aspen Heights.

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