Workers Left Unpaid as Contracting Firm Declares Bankruptcy

By: Georgia | Published: Apr 18, 2024

Steven Ocana, a former employee of JBS Pipeline, described the company’s sudden bankruptcy announcement as “a brutal slap in the face.” 

This unexpected news left over 70 workers jobless and without pay after the company, which had been a staple in Commerce City for over two decades, filed for bankruptcy this month.

Abrupt Communication

CBS News reports that communication from the company was abrupt and left employees scrambling. 

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Ocana recounted the immediate events leading to the shutdown, “We got a text message sent out [Thursday] saying all equipment and everybody needs to be in the shop. For now, we’re shut down,” followed by the bankruptcy announcement the next morning.

Early Warning Signs

Shawn Greenwood, who started working at the company three months prior to its closure, noticed early warning signs

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She felt that the financial aspects of the company “wasn’t adding up” and struggled to understand why there were discrepancies in the company’s accounts.

Financial Difficulties Become Apparent

As the financial difficulties at JBS Pipeline became more apparent, employees noticed major operational problems. 

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“I personally opened the mail, so, I saw every notice we received,” said Talisha Spoelman, another former employee, indicating that bills were going unpaid.

Credit Issues Impact Operations

Operational challenges were further compounded by credit issues, which affected basic necessities. 

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Ocana detailed the impact on the company’s operations: “None of my drivers could get fuel or certain parts that we needed because they shut the credit cards off.”

Changes Following Ownership Transition

After Iron Ox Development Corporation took over JBS Pipeline in 2021, employees like Ocana observed a noticeable decline in the company’s financial stability. 

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He mentioned that more accounts were being shut off, indicating a downward trend that continued until the company’s recent bankruptcy.


Unpaid Work and Personal Impact

The bankruptcy has had a severe impact on employees’ personal lives. 

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Javier Quezada, a single father and former employee, said, “As a single father, I rely on my weekly paychecks. I have a daughter, I have a mortgage and for him to allow us to work all week and then at the end of the week tell us, okay, we’re done, that hurts.”


Significant Personal News Amid Financial Crisis

The timing of the bankruptcy announcement was particularly harsh for some.

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Ocana revealed, “One of my drivers had just found out he’s having a baby,” illustrating the personal crises that coincided with the company’s financial collapse.


Decades of Service

Cayetano Gallegos, who had dedicated over two decades to JBS Pipeline, expressed his shock at not receiving his earned compensation.

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He said, “I tell you from there my reaction was, I was feeling like I was in another world.”


Ongoing Legal Issues

Iron Ox Development, the parent company of JBS Pipeline, is currently embroiled in legal issues across several states including California, Utah, and Arizona. 

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These include accusations of securities fraud and failure to pay out hundreds of thousands of dollars to investors.


Former Employees Call for Justice

Spoelman expressed a strong sentiment regarding the future of the company’s management, saying, “I personally would just like to see that nobody does business with this family ever again.” 

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This statement reflects the deep betrayal felt by the employees towards the management.


The Importance of Due Diligence

The former employees, still reeling from their experiences, advise potential employees to thoroughly research any company before joining. 

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They hope to prevent others from suffering similar fates by encouraging vigilance and due diligence in future employment choices.