Telemarketing firm delays paychecks
By JENNIFER GOLDBLATT
© St. Petersburg Times, published May 12, 2001
HOLIDAY -- A week ago, 30 to 40 employees lost their jobs at New Local Networks, a troubled telemarketing firm.
On Friday, more than 50 people -- some still employed by New Local Networks -- showed up to get paid, only to be told the company didn't have the money, and must pay them later.
That news left people so frustrated that, eventually, the yelling, crying and demands for explanations drew at least 12 Pasco County Sheriff's deputies to handle crowd control.
"They told us they weren't going to pay us today, and that they were going to pay us Monday," said Lucy Sinkovits, 40, who had worked at the company since last month.
She was in the crowd near the offices at 3545 University Plaza. There, Sinkovits and her co-workers sold online Internet Yellow Page listings and other Internet services.
Employees said as many as 40 had been fired the week before. When it came time to get paid at 5 p.m. Friday, they were told that paychecks would be mailed to them. Some employees, who remained in the offices Friday, were told to return Monday for their checks.
Jay Peterson, 24, a manager at the company who had been working there since October, said his $200 paycheck bounced in the last pay period.
At one time, more than 100 people worked at New Local Networks, Peterson said. Other employees said that pay started at $10 per hour, and that they were also paid commission based on sales. They said they sold Web pages and Internet domain name registrations, and took credit card and check orders over the phone.
Sinkovits said she saw management staff wearing shirts emblazoned with the Businessmall.com name walking around the office Friday afternoon.
Businessmall.com is a Clearwater-based company which offered real-time stock quotes, an online Yellow Pages directory, and Web page design programs, and bookkeeping programs. The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in September and closed its doors, laying off 150 employees.
James P. McGuire is listed as a director and chief executive officer of New Local Networks, according to Florida's Division of Corporations Web site. He could not be reached for comment.
Employees who emerged from the offices Friday, said that a man who called himself a mediator told them they would receive some sort of compensation Monday. He declined to be interviewed by the Times.
He told the crowds waiting outside that their checks would be mailed to them. But that didn't comfort Maria Serrano, 48, who, through tears, said she was counting on her $630 paycheck to make a mortgage payment. She said: "I'm going to lose my house."
- Times researchers Cathy Wos and Caryn Baird contributed to this report.
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