First Marine Manufacturing Inc., the operator of the Fort McHenry-area shipyard that owed its workers several weeks in back wages, has caught up on its payroll, company President Dannie B. Hudson said yesterday.
His employees' wages are "all paid, up to date," Mr. Hudson said.
In July, First Marine filed for protection from creditors under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, which allows a company to continue to operate while it tries to devise a reorganization plan for emerging from bankruptcy. Since then, the company has had difficulty meeting its payroll.
The company missed another payroll Sept. 28, putting the company three weeks behind for most of its employees. At that point, about a dozen employees quit in frustration. When the yard opened the following Monday, a group of former employees staged a protest at the gates of the shipyard to demand payment of their wages.
That payment was made Friday. "A lot of people got paid," Gilbert Gomez, a former employee said yesterday. He received two of the three checks he says are owed him. A third's week's pay is in dispute, he said.
On several occasions, First Marine employees have received their paychecks only to have them bounce. Mr. Gomez said those who were paid this time took their checks straight to the bank and that this time, "they cashed."
Mark Shipley, a former security guard, said he received what was owed him, close to $800. "I'm happy to get the money," he said.
Mr. Hudson declined to estimate the payments or the number of workers who received checks.
The U.S. Trustee's Office, which oversees the operations of companies operating under Chapter 11, has filed a motion with U.S. bankruptcy court asking that First Marine's case be converted to a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. If the court approves the motion, First Marine will be forced to liquidate its assets to pay its debts.
The Trustee's Office has said that the company's problems in meeting its payroll contributed to the decision to recommend to the court that First Marine be forced to liquidate.