New York, NY – The city- and statewide task force inspired, in part, by the grisly 2015 death of construction worker Carlos
Moncayo on a job site in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District — has introduced a series of new indictments this week targeting a slew of contracting and development firms alleged to have swindled more than $2.5 million in wages from over 400 workers.
“Every week, New Yorkers lose $20 million in unpaid wages, Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance said on Monday morning. “And every day, construction workers who risk their lives doing dangerous jobs have to wonder whether they’ll actually be paid for their work.”
Multiple Companies in the Bronx, Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Nassau County and Westchester are now facing Grand Larceny, Scheme to Defraud and Issuing a False Instrument for Filing charges, which could land them all in seriously hot water and impact their ability to do further business in the state.
One company in Manhattan, already convicted of attempting to lie about the value of its payroll and forced to pay back workers about $464,000 in withheld wages — is the same company convicted in Moncayo’s death.
Last year, courts found both Sky Materials and Harco Construction guilty of Second Degree Manslaughter after Moncayo, a 22-year-old Ecuadorian emigre, was killed in a trench collapse on Ninth Street near the High Line.
Whether it’s lost wages or lost lives, immigrant workers — both documented and undocumented — continue to pay the price for greedy developers bent on maximizing profits over people.
This week, Vance and other members of the Construction Fraud Task Force, pledged to support the rights of workers regardless of immigration status, and encouraged those victimized on the job to report incidences of abuse.
“Once you lose the confidence of the immigrant community, the confidence that you are there to protect them and their human rights — you have to wonder what their response is going to be when law enforcement needs their help,” Vance said.
The DA’s Construction Safety Community Project urges workers to anonymously report dangerous or unjust working conditions
through WhatsApp, or calling the DA’s office at 646-712-0298, or the Department of Labor at 1-888-4-NYSDOL.
“When particularly egregious cases arise where a business seeks to hid its assets to prevent payments, we rely on these partners, such as these prosecuting attorneys represented here today, in order to ensure that workers get what they are truly owed,” New York State Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon said.
Cynicism that immigrant workers will, in fact, remain silent in the face of Trump-fueled deportation fears, remains high.
Dan Walcott, political director/director of special projects for the New York City District Council of Carpenters, however, struck a more encouraging tone.
“I think [workers are more willing to speak out], I really do,” Walcott told LaborPress. “They’re being exploited and I think they’re tired of being exploited. They want to make a good life and a good living in New York. And with the backup from these agencies, I think that’s going to get them to where they’ve got to be.”