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State says owner of Golden Guernsey broke law, workers owed money

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WAUKESHA (WITI) -- They were promised more than a million dollars after being locked out of work when the Golden Guernsey Dairy plant suddenly closed back in January, and now, there is new hope for former Golden Guernsey Dairy workers.

This was supposed to be the year Bob and Joanna Storm got to spend a little more time together at the dinner table.

"Now you have to start from square one," Bob Storm said.

"When you hit the restart button at 66, it's not easy," Joanna Storm said.

Bob was planning to retire from his job at Golden Guernsey Dairy in Waukesha -- a job that vanished overnight last January.

"Real hard at first," Bob Storm said.

Retirement has now been put off -- but a big announcement from the state is giving the Storms hope. They may get thousands of dollars still owed by their old company.

In a 13-page initial decision, officials at the Department of Workforce Development say the former owner of Golden Guernsey, Open Gate Capitol, broke state law.

The state says workers are owed for the 60 days notice they were supposed to receive.

"We are also assessing increased wages for failure to give notice in the amount that 101 employees would have been paid if they had been allowed to work those 60 days," John Dipko with DWD.

The state says Golden Guernsey workers are owed more than $1.2 million.  The state says workers and others are given 10 days to appeal their decision.

"Now it's been 11 months and we haven't received a dime of our back wages," Bob Storm said.

The problem is that Open Gate declared bankruptcy and in May, the factory was sold, with the profits being used to pay off bills and creditors.

Court documents show while workers haven't received a check, plenty have been written by a court trustee in charge of the money.

In the month of July, more than $4 million was used to pay off the mortgage.

Other expenses included lawn service and contract labor around the factory.

In total, more than $7 million was spent, leaving just over $2.8 million in the bank.

So why are banks and others being paid, while former workers still wait? The trustee in charge of the money says the priority is determined by bankruptcy law.

FOX6 News reached Open Gate Capital and asked whether they had any comment about the determination they broke state law. We have yet to hear back.

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