Dozens looking for work stranded in Knoxville

By  | 

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Dozens of people rolled into Knoxville from North Carolina Monday thinking they were heading to Texas to be paid for relief efforts. When they arrived, the found they were misled.

Linette Brown is among those who traveled from Fayetteville, North Carolina, who came to Knoxville hoping to find work.

"It was on It might have been on, but it was also on Facebook. It wasn't false advertisement but we thought that we were leaving (Monday)," she told Local 8 News.

It's unclear if this was a miscommunication or a scam, but people like Crystal Diggs paid money to be in Knoxville.

"We all paid van drivers $80 a head to come out here, and there's 15 people on a van with all our bags, stuff we need to go down there. No one wants to pay us back our money when we get here because there's no job. There's no work," said Crystal.

"We knew it wasn't a scam because it's people we know that's (in Texas) now that said, 'Okay, they're paying us to clean up, we got to meet here at this suite at 6:00 in the morning,' so some of us left early because we didn't know how bad it was going to be," explained Linette.

Employees at Executive Park in West Knoxville had no idea hundreds would be waiting outside their doors when they arrived to work Monday morning. The unmarked building known as Total Workforce Solutions operates as a vendor, dispatching workers to relief areas. Local 8 News reporter Sarah Jane Anderson talked with Pollyann Grubelnik, who claimed to be a vendor in the situation.

"We recruit folks for these disasters, and those numbers change day by day, week by week; and so we have sent over 400 people from this location to Texas and the last group we dispatched on Thursday," said Grubelnik. "There is no ad on Indeed that says they are leaving here Monday morning. Any ad that we placed were—I want to say it was Friday of last week—that if they were interested they could email their resume or information stating they wanted to partake in this event of relief."

With nowhere for the visitors to go, police arranged a KAT bus to pick them up. They were taken to the Salvation Army, but Crystal said, the organization's facilities were too full.

"I should have stayed my happy behind home," she said. "I was struggling, but I had a home."

Grubelnik told people to check back Wednesday to see if positions would become available, but employees at Total Workforce Solutions were telling people they would not be making hires in coming days and going home would be the best option.