Hotel Workers Worried About Paychecks

By Justin Foss, Reporter

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By Justin Foss

CEDAR RAPIDS - When you think about downtown Cedar Rapids, it's hard to miss the biggest hotel..right on First Ave. There's an attraction for both visitors and people looking for work.

One woman, who talked to KCRG-TV9 on the condition of anonymity, took a job there.

"The attraction, well the Crowne Plaza had a fabulous reputation," she said.

She worked there less than a year, for that reason she doesn't want her face shown.

KCRG-TV9 talked with several other current employees, they didn't want to talk on camera because they feared being fired.

Destination Hospitality, which is based in Georgia and owns the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Cedar Rapids said in the last 8 weeks, a total of 77 payroll checks bounced. The company also said that's a small amount considering they cut 140 checks every two weeks. But, company representatives said they're both embarrassed and apologetic about the problem.

For the former employee KCRG-TV9 spoke with, just one of her checks bounced.

While she and every other employee eventually got paid, what followed for her were hundreds of dollars in fees and fines from the bank.

"My husband and I sat down and we had to really discuss it and look it over and we figured out that between the fees I was getting charged and the daycare I was paying, I was in the hole working there," she said.

Thursday night Peter Mathon, who represents KRONOS Hotels, the parent company of Destination Hospitality, said there was an "administrative problem" between ADP, the company that cuts the checks, and Wachovia bank, who had the money.

The company said because the bank isn't in Iowa, the money was missing or late.

But, Mathon says after Friday the hotel will use a local bank.

Some employees say they're still skeptical.

"It got to the point, that after so many months, most of us employees were so worn out and so disgusted with every decision they've made that at that point we just laughed," the former employee said.

Mathon said the company recently gave every employee a $30 bonus, regardless if they had problems with checks or not, just to cover the hassle.

Mathon said the hotel is giving every employee the opportunity to cash their checks at the hotel on Friday.

OTHER FINANCIAL PROBLEMS -

Bouncing paychecks hasn't been the only financial problem at the Crowne Plaza.

Since the middle of January, several companies in Cedar Rapids have filed lawsuits in small claims court against the hotel and its parent company.

Many of them claim non payment of bills. And some of those suits have been settled.

According to Iowa Courts Online, those companies are: J.P GASWAY; HOSIER REFRIGERATION SUPPLY INC; PIERSONS FLOWER SHOP
BUDGET RENT A CAR OF CEDAR RAPIDS; ZIMMERMAN FORD; LEWIS SYSTEM OF IA; HAWKEYE FIRE & SAFETY CO; CIRCLE COMPUTER RESOURCES INC.

You might also remember that back in January the city of Cedar Rapids sent a letter to the hotel asking for more than $66,000 in unpaid parking fees and utilities.

Company representatives hand delivered a check days later.

WHO OWNS THE PROPERTY -

The Crowne Plaza hotel sits on city owned property, and Destination Hospitality which owns it leases the land from the city.

The hotel is undergoing a renovation.

Hotel officials tell us they are replacing the roof and changing the look of the rooms inside.

There's no exact word on when crews will finish all the work.

Email Justin Foss at Justin.Foss@kcrg.com

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