JUPITER, Fla. - John Starnes has been worried about his older brother, Chip Starnes, ever since he found out last week that Chip was being held hostage in his Chinese medical supply factory.
"My father told me, and it's just been very surreal, like something you would read about in a book, or a movie," said John. "How often do you find out your brother is being held hostage in a foreign country around the world?"
John spoke with Chip several times while Chip was trapped inside.
"I definitely consider it to be inhumane," said John. "He contracted an eye infection in both eyes while he was there."
John said his brother's living conditions dramatically improved after the press picked up the story, but before that, he said Chip didn't have food for 24 hours, and he was forced to stay inside his office.
Eighty workers had confined Chip inside the plant for nearly a week, demanding compensation after hearing rumors that the entire factory would shut down and jobs would be transferred to India.
"Everywhere he went, he was followed by about 20 people, so he was never really alone,” John said. “All the exits were blocked, all the doors, the entrances were blocked."
The two sides finally struck a deal: workers received payouts. Chip wrote by text message, “Deal was done & all employees were paid..."
John said he is relived his brother made it out of there. He wishes Chip would never go back to China, but thinks it unlikely that Chip will stay away.
"Personally, I hope he doesn't, but you know, he has a business to run," said John.
Meantime, John just hopes his brother is emotionally and physically fine, after his ordeal.
"It's bizarre, you know? He's tired, we're ready to have him home, and I guess figure out what they're going to do and what happens from there," he said.
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