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Employees: Staffing Agency Shut Down, Said No One Would Be Paid

UPDATED 06/22/12 4:30 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Employees of a Northwest Side staffing agency are furious, after they were told the company was shutting down and they wouldn't be getting paid.

As CBS 2's Susanna Song reports, employees said they should have received two weeks' pay Friday at Prime Staffing, 3806 N. Cicero Ave.

On Friday morning, employees who came looking for their paychecks were shocked to learn that the business had closed down. They found out from a handwritten sign on the door reading:" "Out of business. The bank shut us down."

"It's crazy. I had no idea. It's crazy," said employee Ulysses McWhorter. "They owe me about $1,000."

Earlier this week, employees received a notice announcing: "With tears in my eyes, I regret to inform you that effective immediately, Prime Staffing is out of business. Our bank has decided to immediately close our line of credit that we relied on to fund the operations of this company."

But it didn't end there. The notice also said the employees would not be paid.

"Outstanding checks will not be honored and all funds in our account are being applied to pay down the line of credit. We have no leverage to prevent this," the notice reportedly said.

The notice continued: "Everyone should get up and go home. I do not have anything more to say but will keep you informed as I find out more information. I am sorry to say but as of now, we cannot issue any checks to anyone at this time."

CBS 2 reached out to the owner of Prime Staffing, but he was not home and did not return calls.

The company website shows Prime Staffing has four offices. In addition to the Cicero Avenue office, there are also locations in Crest Hill, Villa Park and Wheeling.

The company employs nearly 2,000 workers for restaurants, caterers and manufacturing companies. The company has helped staff events for the mayor and many other top-shelf clients.

"We've got bills to pay, and now what do I tell my people, you know? My company closed their doors – the people I thought I could count on closed their doors?" employee Lee Vasquez said.

"We were staffing people out of this office right up until 3:50 on Wednesday afternoon," said office recruiting manager Dennis Lebda. "We had our clients, which include the largest catering companies in Chicago, hotels – we were booking; they were reaching out to us to provide them with staff, and we were doing that right up until the very end."

Employees say Prime Staffing abruptly closed Thursday and told its employees they would not be paid. (Credit: Natalie Cheng/CBS Chicago)

Lebda said he wasn't given any notice from the owners, either, and there are still a lot of questions that remain unanswered. But he did say all the companies that work with Prime Staffing have been notified and told to make other arrangements.

CBS 2 sought comment from Harris Bank, which said questions should be directed to Prime Staffing.

Meanwhile, some of the employees are hiring lawyers, while others say they are filing grievances with the Labor Relations Board.

Occupy Chicago members joined the employees in a protest outside the Cicero Avenue office Friday morning.

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