A handful of ex-employees of former Chicago mayoral candidate Amara Enyia are speaking out after they filed a wage theft grievance against her, alleging thousands of dollars in wages remain unpaid.
A total of 24 former campaign staffers are parties to the filing, which alleges that Enyia’s campaign committee owes them a combined total of $56,825 in unpaid wages, overtime pay, minimum wage violations, and unreimbursed expenses.
“We worked 18 hour days in the heart of this winter, which as you know here in Chicago can be unbearable,” former staffer Chris Harlen said. “So this was the last thing we wanted to come to.”
Enyia’s campaign drew plenty of attention due to high profile endorsements from musicians Chance the Rapper and Kanye West, and also received nearly $500,000 in donations from the rappers.
Former staffers say that despite the financial infusion, the campaign was mismanaged and want to see her financial disclosures.
“Amara definitely has culpability from her perspective, but it goes well beyond her,” Harlen said. “As a candidate, this is your campaign, your name on the campaign committee. The buck stops with you.”
A statement issued by the 24 ex-staffers says they were initially promised pay by March 15, but the date came and went without checks arriving.
Enyia finished sixth in Chicago’s municipal election on Feb. 26, receiving 8 percent of the vote.
The grievance alleges that Enyia’s campaign gave junior-level employees checks that were returned by banks, and that the campaign knew it could not compensate the workers but withholding that information from them.
After the grievance was filed, Enyia posted a statement on Twitter, saying that partial payments have begun to campaign staff, but not everyone has received those checks.
Illinois Board of Elections records show that Enyia’s campaign committee had just under $5,300 cash on hand as of Tuesday.
For now, her staffers just want to receive the money they were promised, and are looking to prevent the same thing from happening to others in the political world.
“Our obligation is to tell the truth about our experience, and to secure restitution for the wages that we are owed,” Harlen said.
NBC 5 offered Enyia the opportunity to respond to the allegations in an on-camera interview, but did not receive a reply to requests.