Freon Logistics, a Bakersfield, California-based trucking company, has filed for bankruptcy, and some employees protested recently to demand unpaid wages.
Documents filed Nov. 8 in Eastern District of California U.S. Bankruptcy Court show the company, which according to its website provides truckload, less-than-truckload, intermodal, repair and maintenance and warehousing services, is seeking Chapter 11 protection; the documents were signed by CEO Hardeep Singh.
The purpose of Chapter 11 is to rehabilitate a business through a court-approved reorganization plan. It frees a company from the threat of creditors’ lawsuits while it repairs its finances.
Freon Logistics employs about 500 people, including truck drivers, administrative personnel and others, according to court records. It’s unclear if Freon’s associated companies — Freon Group, Freon Trucking, Freon Cold Storage or Freon Garage — are impacted by the filing.
On Monday, some employees gathered outside the company’s headquarters to protest, according to local news outlets.
“I have a couple colleagues that haven’t been paid over a good few weeks, even months, two months, I heard the most,” Joel Juarez told local news station KGET. “It’s been for a couple of my colleagues … it’s been over $12,000, $16,000 that have been owed. As for myself, I’m owed $2,000, which is a little bit, but still, I need that money to pay my bills, take care of the stuff at home. You know, I have a family to take care of.”
A TikTok taken at the scene and posted by the account kern_county_activities_ shows a group of disgruntled employees gathering around the Freon Logistics building, with one driver who claims to have worked with the company for four years yelling to a Freon employee or representative: “You don’t care about anyone else. You just care about your own s—, man. This is all you did, man, whatever you’re talking about all this bull—-,” he says.
FreightWaves’ attempts on Wednesday to reach the company and the law firm representing it were unsuccessful.
Some employees told KGET that the company promised to pay workers on Monday but went back on its word, claiming the bank had frozen the company’s accounts.
In a new court filing Monday, the company asked the court to allow it to pay administrative costs and employees.
“It is critical the Debtor be able to continue operations of its business without delays or interruption so that Debtor can reorganize its business and financial affairs as contemplated by Chapter 11,” the filing states.
The bankruptcy filing also says the company expects the business to be profitable while the case is underway.
Bill Prough, a safety manager for Freon, told a reporter with KBAK that financial problems are to blame but that workers will get paid.
“Some of our drivers aren’t getting paid, you know. It’s not that they’re not gonna get paid; they will get paid,” he said. “The income goes down and the cost goes up, and … people don’t understand, the drivers don’t understand.”
KBAK says the Department of Transportation was on scene this week after the agency’s attempts to reach the company were also unsuccessful. FreightWaves has requested a comment from DOT.
A Facebook page and other social media accounts for the company were no longer active as of Wednesday.