A former driver for Ameritrans Express, a contract delivery company that delivers mail for the U.S. Postal Service, says he is owed more than $15,000 in back wages, overtime and mileage reimbursement. However, he says he and other former Ameritrans drivers are concerned about when or whether they will get their money after the Virginia-based company recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
Dustin Paxson, 41, of Neskowin, Oregon, worked for Ameritrans Express for nearly two years, from April 2021 until February, when he claims Ameritrans stopped paying him and other delivery drivers.
Besides being owed six weeks’ pay, Paxson said he racked up thousands of dollars in credit card debt and fees to pay his living expenses and buy fuel for his truck to ensure customers along his routes received their mail.
“I worked 14-hour shifts, six days a week and leveraged all of my credit cards to the brink, paying everything out of my own pocket, just so I could do my job during that time,” Paxson told FreightWaves. “My wife, Deb, and I are still trying to climb out of that debt.”
Some mail subcontractors are owed four months’ pay from Ameritrans, Paxson said.
Paxson has filed wage claims with the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI), the U.S. Department of Labor and now with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, where Ameritrans filed for Chapter 11, in an effort to recoup the money he is owed.
The DOL’s Wage and Hour Division confirmed that it has an open investigation into Ameritrans but told FreightWaves on Friday it can’t “discuss additional details until the investigation is concluded.”
Rachel Mann, communications director for the BOLI, confirmed the agency is also investigating Ameritrans Express.
“We will communicate with them [DOL] to avoid duplicative work and ensure the best outcome for the worker,” Mann told FreightWaves on Wednesday.
This is welcome news for Paxson and his wife, Deb Gallant, who said they are still struggling to climb out of the financial bind they claim Ameritrans put them in five months ago.
“We are so far behind on everything and we need to get this money owed to Dustin,” said Gallant in an email to FreightWaves.
Paxson said he’s now an independent contractor and is paid directly by the Postal Service after his bid to deliver mail on his routes was accepted after “Ameritrans lost its contracts to haul mail.”
As of publication on Wednesday, a spokesperson with the Postal Service had not responded to multiple requests from FreightWaves seeking comment about Ameritrans’ contract status.
Ameritrans, headquartered in Dumfries, Virginia, filed its petition in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Virginia on June 28. The company was founded by Frederick Amankwaa in 2013.
The company, which has taken down its website since FreightWaves first reported the story on Friday, stated it offers mail contracting services in more than 30 states.
As of last week, Ameritrans was advertising job openings for mail contract drivers.
The filing lists Ameritrans’ assets as between $10 million and $50 million and its liabilities as between $1 million and $10 million. Ameritrans stated that it has up to 999 creditors and maintained that funds will be available for distribution to unsecured creditors once it pays administrative fees.
Ameritrans’ largest secured creditors include 13 factoring companies that are owed nearly $3.2 million.
As of publication, Ameritrans’ attorney, Jonathan B. Vivona, had not responded to FreightWaves’ request seeking comment.
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