State

Kentucky employees cheated by federal Medicare contractor, union says in complaint

A company that operates call centers in London and Corbin has classified workers incorrectly in order to pay them less, a union has alleged in a complaint to the U.S. Department of Labor.

The Communications Workers of America filed the wage-theft allegations against General Dynamics Information Technology (GDIT) on behalf of current and former employees.

The complaint seeks an investigation of the company. General Dynamics has a contract with the federal government to operate centers where people can call for help with Medicare or programs such as the Affordable Care Act, commonly called Obamacare.

The company has centers in London and Corbin that employ more than 900 people altogether, making it one of the largest employers in the area, according to the state Economic Development Cabinet.

Federal rules include job classifications and wage scales for employees of contractors. Most of the employees at the Kentucky centers are classified in a tier with an hourly wage of $10.50, said Beth Allen, a spokeswoman for the union.

The complaint is that many have received training to qualify for a higher classification — and are doing work performed at higher classifications — but the company won’t move them to a tier with a higher salary, Allen said.

The level above where most of the Kentucky employees are classified has a salary of about $12 and hour, and the next level is $13.50, Allen said.

“They are not being re-classified and paid at the proper wage,” Allen said of the Kentucky employees.

Allen said the union could not release a complete copy of the complaint filed Monday.

The company said in a response to the Herald-Leader that it values its employees and their work, and takes its obligations seriously under federal law.

The company is subject to routine compliance reviews as a federal contractor, it said in the statement.

The complaint involving the Kentucky workers included allegations about GDIT facilities in Tampa, Phoenix and Waco, Texas.

It follows similar wage-theft complaints by the union against the company involving workers at facilities in Kansas, Mississippi, Virginia and Louisiana.

Since January, more than 2,000 current and former General Dynamics Information Technology workers have signed on to requests for the Department of Labor to investigate the company, according to the union.

“These complaints provide further evidence that thousands of workers at a majority of GDIT call centers across the nation are systemically underpaid,” union President Chris Shelton said in a news release.

The union is asking the Labor Department to do a company-wide investigation of General Dynamics Information Technology.

Roy Wingfield, an employee at the General Dynamics CMS call center in London, said in the union news release that the company should stop under-paying employees.

“I’m tired of just surviving, of making tough decisions like which bills to pay and which bills to delay,” Wingfield said.

The union estimates that tens of thousands of current and former GDIT employees could get back pay totaling $100 million or more if the Department of Labor rules that the allegations against the company are true.

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