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Contractor To Pay $600,000 To Settle Wage Theft Investigation In New York City

Last week, the office of the New York State Attorney General announced the results of an investigation into Masonry Services, Inc. (MSI), a masonry contractor. MSI has agreed to pay $600,000 for underpaying workers on an affordable housing project within New York City.

MSI owners James S. Herrera and Jaime T. Herrera, have agreed to pay $600,000 for underpaying masonry workers on the St. Marks Project, a publicly funded affordable housing project for seniors in the Brownsville section of the borough of Brooklyn. The payment includes $575,000 in back wages plus $25,000 in costs. New York State Attorney General (AG) Eric T. Schneiderman said:

“My office will continue to pursue contractors who illegally underpay workers, whether it’s on a small scale or in a larger settlement like this one... Contractors who work on publicly-funded affordable housing projects must comply with all applicable laws, plain and simple. MSI will be held accountable for failing to meet its obligations..."

The investigation focused on the requirement that workers must be paid the prevailing wage. The goal of prevailing wage laws is to ensure that government contractors pay wages that are comparable to the local rates for a given trade. According to the announcement:

"The law requires an hourly rate for construction work performed for public agencies that is well above the state and federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, along with certain additional benefits. Between June 2009 and July 2010, the masonry workers on the St. Marks Project were paid between $8 and $23 an hour– well below the applicable prevailing wage rates – and were not paid overtime despite regularly working more than 40 hours a week."

Besides the payment, the agreement also requires MSI to pay for services to independently monitor MSI’s labor practices on private and public construction projects for three years, with unannounced on-site inspections. If violations are found, MSI will be barred for five years from working on on New York State public works projects.

Robert Bonanza, business manager of the Mason Tenders District Council, said:

“For too long, too many contractors have operated in open defiance of the prevailing wage laws, which protect workers from unscrupulous employers, whose only goal is to profit at the expense of honest hard-working New Yorkers. On behalf of the members of the Mason Tenders District Council, I want to thank Attorney General Schneiderman and his office for their role in bringing MSI and its owners to justice."

Learn more about the Mason Tenders District Council of New York City and Long Island.


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