Cover Story: NACA Payment Problem

By Jeff Atkinson - bio l email

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Under threat of losing their jobs a group of disgruntled employees called us.  Then they called the fire department.  At issue were accusations that a company chartered to help people manage their money wasn't managing its own.

And its workers weren't getting all their paychecks.

But some bad press for a CEO of a company who's used the media before.. in cultivating a reputation as a "bank terrorist".

We're talking about NACA, a non-profit who helps people avoid losing their homes involved in a payment problem that its employees say could put them in hot water with their bill collectors.

Fanfare last summer when NACA, the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America came to town, promising Charlotte 2,000 jobs, winning $3.5 million in economic incentive grants from the state.

But the non-profit, famous for its "Save the Dream" events - which helps struggling homeowners stay out of foreclosure - came under fire Friday from some of its employees.

"Their mission is good.. but everything that they're doing.. just messing up peoples' pay is so wrong," one worker told us.

A handful of NACA workers walked out of their east Charlotte office building.  They are upset over what they say are repeated attempts by the company not to pay them for all the work they do.

Others would have joined them they said, but they were afraid of losing their jobs.

"A lot of employees right now are not working," said NACA employee LaToya Jones.  "They're upstairs.. they got the upstairs blocked off. If you come down the stairs you're told that you're fired. If you speak to the media you're told that you're fired."

It was that threat--- that people couldn't leave.. that prompted a call to 911.  And within minutes, police officers from CMPD and the Charlotte Fire Department were on the scene.

"Nobody felt not free to leave."

Inside NACA's office building supervisors got hold of CEO Bruce Marks.  Marks was in Nashville on Friday at a "Save the Dream" event.  He held a conference call with workers here.

Outside protesters put the conference call on speaker phone so members of the media could hear.

"I want my money.  If I work the hours I want the pay. I don't have to wait dang it a week for you to cut a check."

Later, disgruntled employees went back upstairs to see if indeed they'll be fired.

"It's not fair that I had to lose my job today because I stood up for what I believe in," said Lakeshia Trowell.

The NACA CEO told us by phone later Friday that the problem resulted from a glitch in the company's payroll system.  He blamed it on growing pains and that he's personally making it right with every worker.

Said Bruce Marks, NACA CEO, "Things happen when you're employing as many people as we are in Charlotte and growing. These are things that will happen. But we've never not paid people. Never. And if there's any kind of issue we've always addressed it."

The workers told us NACA's informed them they will be let go. CEO Bruce Marks told us they're not being terminated for talking to the media but for leaving their jobs to come down and talk to us.

Marks himself has attracted media attention for holding protests at the homes of CEOs whose banks he says are engaging in predatory lending.

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