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Workers at Stimulus-Receiving Battery Company Play Cards, Games

"They still have nothing to do."

8:02 AM, Oct 19, 2012 • By DANIEL HALPER
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The NBC affiliate in Grand Rapids filed this report on the stimulus-receiving battery company, LG Chem: 

"Workers at LG Chem, a $300 million lithium-ion battery plant heavily funded by taxpayers, tell Target 8 that they have so little work to do that they spend hours playing cards and board games, reading magazines or watching movies," reports the local TV station.

They say it's been going on for months. 

"There would be up to 40 of us that would just sit in there during the day," said former LG Chem employee Nicole Merryman, who said she quit in May. 

"We were given assignments to go outside and clean; if we weren't cleaning outside, we were cleaning inside. If there was nothing for us to do, we would study in the cafeteria, or we would sit and play cards, sit and read magazines," said Merryman. "It's really sad that all these people are sitting there and doing nothing, and it's basically on taxpayer money." 

Two current employees told Target 8 that the game-playing continues because, as much as they want to work, they still have nothing to do. 

"There's a whole bunch of people, a whole bunch," filling their time with card games and board games," one of those current employees said. 

That employee says some workers are doing odd jobs around the building, including cleaning and maintenance, while others hang out in the cafeteria playing video games, Texas hold-'em and Monopoly or doing Sudoku or crossword puzzles -- all on company time. The employee said some watch movies. 

And the cost to taxpayers for folks to sit around like this? It's pretty significant.

The U.S. Department of Energy provided a $151 million grant, part of Obama's Recovery Act.

The Korea-based company recently said it has 200 employees, and the company's most recent federal filing shows 100 of them are funded through the Recovery Act grant.

The company has spent $133 million so far, most for construction and equipment, records show. About 40% has gone to foreign companies -- mostly to Korea, a Target 8 analysis shows. 

The company also spent more than $533,000 of that federal grant for the groundbreaking, records show.

A Target 8 analysis of federal records shows taxpayers spent $7 million to train workers and have paid more than $700,000 for workers' health and dental insurance. 

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