NY: Nonunion construction, workers win back wages for unpaid overtime, why are companies like this allowed to stay in business?

“New York’s construction workers are the backbone of this city’s economy, but these companies sought to stiff almost 300 Bronx construction workers out of the overtime pay they earned and deserve,” - Andrew Cuomo, NYS Attorney General

Unreal, they will do anything to do the job as cheap as humanly possible, from hiring undocumented workers to not paying overtime, could you imagine how they cut corners on the building materials? Using employees with little or no training and little or no workplace voice, they are killing our area standards. I could go on and on about the reasons to use union and/or quality construction companies, who play by the rules, but I must go to sleep sometime

Found this over at Gangbox, a big thanks to Steven Greenhouse at the New York Times for writing articles of substance for working class people, from "Construction Workers in Bronx Split $1.23 Million in Back Pay " (7/22/08):
Two hundred and eighty-four construction workers in the Bronx will receive a total of $1.23 million in back pay as part of a settlement over unpaid overtime, Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo announced on Monday.

Mr. Cuomo said the construction workers had not received time and a half for the overtime they had worked while renovating a dozen apartment buildings on the Grand Concourse, Gerard Avenue and elsewhere in the Bronx. He said the workers had received straight pay, regardless of how many hours they worked above 40 each week.

Mr. Cuomo’s office reached a settlement with two companies, J. Siebold Construction and Finkelstein-Morgan, which owns and manages real estate, without bringing a lawsuit against them.

“New York’s construction workers are the backbone of this city’s economy, but these companies sought to stiff almost 300 Bronx construction workers out of the overtime pay they earned and deserve,” Mr. Cuomo said.

“Today’s settlement will turn over $1.2 million to these workers and also send a serious message to employers across the state: Time-and-a-half pay for work over 40 hours a week is the law in New York State, and if an employer ignores that law, we will take action.”

The settlement is part of efforts by the attorney general and the State Labor Department to crack down on wage theft, which includes forcing employees to work off the clock, erasing hours they have worked and not paying time and a half for overtime.

The agreement calls for J. Siebold to pay $1.07 million in back wages and $160,000 in interest and penalties, while Finkelstein-Morgan serves as the guarantor of the payments. The violations occurred from October 2002 to August 2006, according to the attorney general’s office.

Under the settlement, the attorney general’s office will monitor the companies’ time and payroll practices to ensure their compliance until 2010.

Also under the settlement, the two companies are banned from retaliating in any way against employees who cooperated or were perceived as cooperating in the investigation.

Dennis A. Lalli, a lawyer for J. Siebold and Finkelstein-Morgan, said, “We cooperated fully with the agency, and I think the parties are in agreement that the final settlement was fair to all involved.”

Steven Finkelstein, a partner in Finkelstein-Morgan, said that his company owned the buildings and that J. Siebold was doing the renovations. Mr. Finkelstein said that because Mr. Cuomo came after both companies, “I had to be part of the settlement.” Of J. Siebold, he said, “They’re as embarrassed about this as we are.”
Wheres the jail time? That's grand larceny in my book. If I stole $1.2 million, I'm damn sure I would wind up in jail. Embarrassed? They should have a date with a fellow inmate. Hell, I wrote a comment over at the Times, if it gets published it will state:
Wheres the jail time? If I were to steal $1.2 million from my contractor, you bet you butt I would be spending time in Riker's, why the double standard for wealthy developers and construction companies who commit grand larceny?

I was kinda glad when I was reading this, then I thought about if it were the other way around, now I think it's a step in the right direction, a very, very small step.
While I appreciate what Mr.Cuomo has done, like I said, it's just not enough, not for the workers, not for the people of New York. We need higher standards for those who build in our city, higher standards for people who work in our city. Every single day I see, a most likely undocumented worker, on a scaffold with no safety equipment, is our governing body blind? How is this allowed to happen? Is this the building of the cross country railroads all over over again? Have we slipped into the early 1900's?

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