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COLUMBIA - A few dozen workers gathered Friday afternoon outside the Columbia Aspen Heights building site at Ponderosa Street and Bethel Road to demand tens of thousands of dollars for work they claim they did for the company.

The men in the group said they were hired through contractor R Energy to build for Aspen Heights at the site. But they said they were told their work was done this week when Aspen Heights terminated its contract with R Energy due to what it calls performance issues with the workers. The men said they have been working for more than a month and have received little to none of the money they said they had been promised when they signed up for the job. 

Jim Price of Waynesville said he brought a group of 13 workers to the site five weeks ago. He said Aspen Heights owes him and his employees a total of more than $34,000. He said he was originally told he would get the money by Jan. 16, but said he received no money that day. He said the projected pay day has continued to change since then. Price said R Energy is working to get them the money and has been very helpful, but has not been able to because it said Aspen will not pay. 

Stuart Watkins, public relations director for Aspen Heights, said that isn't the case. Watkins said R Energy has been told to give Aspen a list of the people it hired for the project along with the amount each individual is owed. But Watkins said R Energy has failed to provide the list thus far. 

When Price and the other men showed up at the building site Friday afternoon to demand their money, there was a police officer on site and the men were asked to leave the property. After waiting for hours outside, an Aspen Heights employee told the group they could come into the site one by one to talk to Aspen Heights officials.

The men said the Aspen Heights officials offered them $500 to buy gas money in order to get the workers home. They took the money, but workers who had traveled all the way from states such as Florida, Alabama and Arkansas said the money would not be enough to get them home. The men said Aspen Heights told them they will discuss their pay by Wednesday of next week. 

KOMU 8 News attempted to contact R Energy to get its side of the story, but our phone calls went unreturned.