Workers cheated out of pay by contractors on city-funded projects will be receiving prevailing wages according to the new initiative from New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer. He plans to return more than $2.5 in unclaimed prevailing wages to construction and building service workers.
When companies fail to pay workers, the Comptroller Bureau of Labor Law is responsible for recovering money owed and ensuring that workers receive it.
What happens to contractors who don’t pay their workers?
The Comptroller Bureau of Labor Law not only recovers and distributes prevailing wages. They also debar contractors that failed workers by not distributing those wages in the first place. Since 2014, the Bureau has debarred a record 50 contractors, which makes these companies ineligible for further government contracts. This protects cities from working with irresponsible companies and also workers from being taken advantage of.
What challenges does this initiative present?
With the current public health crisis, part of the challenge of this initiative is locating workers from these projects.
The Bureau needs to find phone numbers or email addresses for the workers and convince the workers that they are a legitimate source of recovered wages. Research indicates that workers often assume that the notification call or email is a scam. It’s understandable, as most calls claiming monetary awards for Americans are scams. That’s why public awareness is a focus of this initiative.
The global health crisis hit New York City particularly hard. Many New Yorkers—and many Americans, in general—are currently experiencing financial hardship in a way they never have before. Low-income families are the most heavily impacted. It’s especially important that these wages be distributed now, when they are most needed by the public.