A regional less-than-truckload carrier has shut down abruptly, apparently unable to face obligations from a legal settlement regarding charges of being a chameleon carrier. LME Inc., Roseville, Minnesota, closed all of its 30 facilities late last week without warning or providing notice to employees.
The family-owned company offered LTL coverage in 10 states, according to its website, operating over 1,200 tractors and trailers.
Its website on July 12 announced, “LME Inc. will no longer be making pickups or deliveries of freight due to unforeseen circumstances and have ceased operations.” It told customers it planned to use an alternate carrier to help get its freight in transit delivered. “There will be some delays in the transits of these moves and they may be significantly delayed in some remote locations.”
On July 14, the website added a message to employees: “Unfortunately our lender is in control of all finances. The lender must be paid all monies owed to the lender first before payment can be made to the employees. This process will take at least 90 days if not longer. Updates will be provided over time.”
Christian Dawson had been working six days a week for LME out of its Kansas City, Missouri, terminal. He told KSHB 41 Action News, "I was in the middle of working. I have a baby on the way, due at any time. We just moved into our apartment, and I have to pay rent. It's inhumane is what it is."
The station reported that Dawson is considered one of the "lucky" employees who managed to take home a paycheck at the end of the day Thursday.
According to published reports, the company was facing a large payout to workers of the bankrupt Lakeville Motor Express, which the National Labor Relations Board called “alter egos” of each other. Ninety union workers were locked out of work and laid off in November 2016 from Lakeville Motor Express, which filed for bankruptcy in January 2017. Former workers sue, saying the company just moved and changed its name, continuing operations as a non-union company.
In a late-April decision, the NLRB ordered LME to begin paying out a $1.25 million settlement in June. That amount would double to $2.4 million if payments were not paid within 60 days from April 30. In addition, there are still unresolved lawsuits demanding millions from LME for allegedly violating pension obligations.
The Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry says it is investigating, according to the Twin Cities Pioneer Press.