Worker says he lost a day's pay, when a congressman came to town - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Worker says he lost a day's pay, when a congressman came to town

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CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) - Justin Lewis normally spends Friday mornings behind the counter at the Raceway on Signal Mountain Road. Last week his schedule changed with a call from his employer.

"I was told not to come in because Chuck Fleischmann was going to be working my shift," said Lewis.

Congressman Chuck Fleischmann is working his way through district three, on a mission he calls "Chuck on the job."

Friday morning, he pumped gas at the Raceway at the foot of Signal Mountain. Fleischmann has done a variety of jobs for the initiative including serving food, cleaning hotel rooms, and power washing a bridge.

Justin Lewis says his boss wanting to be there for the most recent meet and greet cost him a day's pay.

"I needed that shift, I don't make $160,000 a year," said Lewis, "so missing a shift means a lot to me."

Owner Keith Ponds says he did tell Lewis not to come in, but it wasn't Congressman Fleischmann working the counter in his place.

"I was here because I wanted to be here," said Ponds, "as the owner-operator, I think it's my privilege to be here."

With room for only one employee on shift, Ponds says he chose himself.

Lewis, who admits he voted for Fleischmann's republican opponent, says his boss' decision is not fair.

"It's not a republican issue, it's not a democrat issue," said Lewis, "our economy is suffering, everybody is suffering, work is hard to find, money doesn't go as far as it used to."

The Congressman's office says the issue is between Lewis and Ponds. The following statement was sent to Channel 3 from Chuck Fleischmann's Press Secretary, Jordan Powell:

"This is between Mr. Lewis and his employer. This is our 6th "Chuck on the Job" and this has never been an issue. Chuck looks forward to continuing to work shifts at local businesses so he can hear directly from employers, employees and constituents - just as he did on Friday so he could hear about the impact of high gas prices on the people of East Tennessee."

Ponds says he is grateful Fleischmann randomly selected his business, and would welcome him back.

"To me, a congressman's job is not just to spend all his time in Washington pushing legislation," said Ponds, "it's to get out with the people and try to understand what their wants and needs are."

Justin Lewis says he needs to pay the bills.

"I feel we would be better served by him doing his job, than mine," said Lewis.

Lewis was given the opportunity to work another shift, but his second job made that impossible. He claims to have lost about $100 in pay.

When we asked if Lewis could lose his job for taking his concerns to the media, his employer told us he hasn't decided.

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