Employees not being paid from NJ company during tough times

June 24, 2010 4:11:01 PM PDT
The tough economic times are apparently taking a toll on workers at an occupational center in New Jersey. The workers say that haven't been paid in weeks. Some, up to 14 weeks.

But they say they're still reporting to work.

The First Occupational Center of New Jersey helps train and get jobs for the developmentally disabled and disadvantaged.

It's a noble cause, but Lynette Williams and about 80 other employees say they haven't been paid in weeks, some for months.

"I don't work for free... I work part time so I don't make that much, but what I make is mine, and I want it," said Williams.

The organization is so strapped for cash, they were forced to move out of their headquarters in Orange because PSE&G turned off the electricity. First Occupational owes the utility $200,000.

"It makes me sick, It makes me angry," said Rocco Meola, CEO.

Meola admits he owes roughly 80 employees about $400,000 in paychecks. He himself hasn't been paid in months.

But with a 20 percent cut in state funding, vendors slow to pay up, and with the bad economy, he has no other option.

The First Occupational center helps about 2,400 hundred people a year, people who so desperately need the help.

But it's getting harder to help and pay the staff of 500.

Meola says he's trying everything and has even looked into selling the organizations three buildings.

But if something doesn't happen soon, he might have to close the training program, and that will hurt the people he's been helping for more than 40 years.

The sad reality is he can not guarantee all the employees will get their money, but he hopes and he thinks they will.