Banner Tool owners target of employee action


Employees of Banner Tool & Engineering filed complaints March 24 with the US Department of Labor and the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development against the owners of the stalled company over unpaid wages and insurance claims.

Problems with the company, and struggles being faced by the tool & die industry in Wisconsin, were noted in an April 12 story in Small Business Times.
According to the complaints, owners Keith Akers and David Leist had canceled employees’ self-funded insurance coverage in January. The claim alleges that, in violation of the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act, which regulates self-funded plans, employees were not told they no longer had coverage, and continued to pay the premium while unpaid claims dating from as far back as October of 2001 started to accumulate.
Employees are seeking $67,188.51 in unpaid claims and fraudulently collected premiums.
The employees are also seeking $54,274.82 in unpaid wages and vacation. Overall, employees hope to collect $206,318.78 from Leist and Akers.
Leist and Akers were equal co-owners of the company according to a former employee. Akers served as treasurer and was primarily responsible for the finances. Akers has since filed for personal bankruptcy. Leist served as president of the company and dealt with customers and prospects.
Banner Tool & Engineering is not the only company in dutch with its employees over back wages. The Department of Workforce Development has filed liens against the following companies within the past year:

  • Artech Printing, Inc., 3/15/01,$5,250,000;
  • Centene Corp., 7/16/01, $500,000;
  • Applied Molded Products, 8/27/01, $1.5 million;
  • Valley Pride Pack, 9/04/01,
    $5 million;
  • Charley’s Painting & Decorating, 10/31/01, $20,000;
  • Optenberg, Inc., 11/15/01,$180,000;
  • Ampco Metal, 1/17/02,
    $1.5 million;
  • David White, LLC, 2/12/02, $545,000;
  • Modern Environmental,
    dba EcoSource, 4/02/02, $135,000.

    April 26, 2002 Small Business Times, Milwaukee

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