COMPENSATION QUESTIONS: A scene from the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport.
At a meeting of the Little Rock Municipal Airport Commission
this morning, airport director Ron Mathieu
acknowledged that the airport has received reports that employees of a company which provides a portion of the concessions in the terminal have at times not received their full paychecks, and also may have had portions of their insurance premiums unpaid.
To fill the retail spaces in its terminal, the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport
contracts with concessionaire HMSHost
, a firm that provides food, drink and shopping to airports around the world. In Little Rock, Host is the majority partner in a joint venture that also includes Adevco Management LLC
, a local firm headed by Marcus Devine
Host holds the contract with the airport itself, but it's the Adevco employees that are the subject of concern.
"All we have right now are reports," Mathieu said today. "We don't have anything concrete as to what occurred or when it occurred, and this afternoon we'll be talking with the concessionaire involved to see what information we can get and also learn what long term solution they have put in place — assuming this occurred — to ensure that this will not happen again."
Mathieu stressed that the airport does not have control over a vendor's employees, nor its subcontractors. "Having said that, when we hear of an incident like we've heard of this, we have not been shy to look into it. ... We take that very seriously." Host is ultimately the entity responsible for correcting any problems with its subs, he said.
Mathieu also said the airport has not received any complaints from employees directly. "We have just heard reports," he repeated.
Devine, who was also in attendance this morning, said after the meeting concluded that whatever happened with employee compensation "was an error. We take full responsibility for it. ... Once we became aware of it, we did correct it to make sure the checks were honored, and to date there's no outstanding money owed to anyone."
Devine has held the minority share in the joint venture with Host since the airport awarded the contract to Host in 2007. In addition to his business ventures, Devine is a longtime figure in the state bureaucracy. Since February, he has run the Division of Youth Services
within the Department of Human Services;
previously, he served as DHS deputy director and director of the Department of Environmental Quality
under Gov. Mike Huckabee
. He's been criticized for alleged wrongdoing in the past
Devine said the issue with compensation happened "months ago" and concerned "a couple of employees" whose paychecks came up short due to "a calculation error" as well as "an employee who didn't have coverage under AFLAC and thought she did, and wanted that coverage."
He said that he rectified the error immediately: "I became aware the day of presentation of checks. It's people's money, so they called immediately, and as soon as I found out then I corrected it." And, he added, "My partner here, HMSHost, was aware, and as soon as we became aware we corrected it and resolved the issue."
Sarah Cody, a spokesperson for Host, said via email, "HMSHost was notified about this situation and our management team has addressed it with Adevco.
"Any errors involving employee payments on insurance premiums have been corrected, and will continue to be monitored carefully to ensure accurate payment in the future. It is of utmost importance to HMSHost that we can be confident that employees of this JV partnership with Adevco are being paid properly and promptly."
a spokesperson for the airport, said most retail workers in the facility are employed by Host directly, not Adevco. "Host has a 70 percent ownership interest and Adevco has a 30 percent," he said.