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Council Roots for Bill to Block Wage Theft from Sandy Recovery Workers

Friday, November 15, 2013

WNYC

New York City Council and labor advocates are urging the city government to include job-related information from contractors into the Sandy Recovery Tracker, an online system that the city is building to monitor the usage of federal funds for Sandy relief.

Several City Council members proposed a bill that would create an online database where the public could get information on job creation and retention on all Sandy-related projects receiving federal aid of $100,000 or more.

This would address the rampant problem of wage theft from recovery workers. A study released by Baruch College in October found that 82 percent of Sandy recovery workers have suffered unpaid wages. In September, New York State Attorney General asked a public works contractor to pay over $500,000 dollars in back wages and overtime to Sandy cleanup workers.

Thaddeus Hackworth, the general counsel of the Mayor’s Office of Housing Recovery Operations, said collecting job-related information from contractors would be very difficult.

“The only way for the city to obligate contractors to provide this data would be to negotiate a modification to the contracts, which would impose significant expensive and time-consuming burdens on the contractors,” Hackworth said.

At the City Hall hearing concerning this bill on Friday, Hackworth said the city plans to complete the Sandy Recovery Tracker before Thanksgiving. 

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Comments [1]

Aaron Gruenberg from Brooklyn Navy Yard

Mr. Hackworth said job related data is difficult to obtain but the NYS Dept of Labor is supposed to have this information. Day laborers are not independent contractors. According to the Construction Industry Fair Play Act of 2010, they are employees. It does not matter if one works for a day or a minute. His employer is already required to deduct taxes, provide workers' comp insurance and submit employment forms to state and federal authorities. This is what data looks like. The law was introduced in 2009 by then Senator, now NYS Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman, roughly the same time as the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights. Does Hackworth tell Schneiderman? And what about the rest of the construction industry? Is it too difficult for Home owners from Park Slope to Park Avenue to hire a licensed contractor? We are awash in data, rules to follow, and penalties for not following them. Why are home owners, the legal employers of so many domestics, responsible for the women, but not the men?

Nov. 16 2013 06:07 PM

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