Push for Prevailing Wages at State Transit Hubs Passes Assembly

By Alyana Alfaro * 06/22/17 5:43pm

The New Jersey General Assembly on Thursday passed legislation requiring that subcontracted Newark Liberty Airport, Hoboken Terminal and Newark Penn Station employees be paid prevailing wages, a move that is estimated to bring wages for those employees up to $17.98 per hour according to the New Jersey Business and Industry Association.

The bill, A-4870/S-3226, was sponsored in the Assembly by Democrats including Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-Hudson) and in the state Senate by Democrats including Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-Gloucester). It passed the Assembly on Thursday with 51 yes votes, 23 no votes, and one abstention and will now go to the state Senate for consideration. The measure passed without Republican support.

“When you look at Liberty International, it is one of our biggest employers,” said Prieto (D-Hudson) from the Assembly floor prior to the bill being posted for a vote. “When these individuals live near these centers that should be an economic engine for the region, they should be able to be paid fair wage that is put back into the economy.”

The New Jersey minimum wage is currently $8.38 per hour. Subcontracted workers at Newark Airport make $10.20 per hour. Labor groups around the country are pushing for those wages to be boosted to $15 per hour, a figure lower than NJBIA estimates for the prevailing wage bill.

While Democrats in the legislature favor the initiative, the NJBIA says that the sharp wage boost would “substantially increase the costs for business, which will then be passed along to consumers.” While they estimate the $17.98 prevailing wage for these workers under the legislation, NJBIA says that mandated sick leave, health insurance and paid vacation days would have the same effect as boosting the minimum wage to $22.25 an hour. Michele Siekerka, President and CEO of NJBIA, said that by including such “expensive fringe benefits” as part of the legislation, the bill also eliminates collective bargaining and contract negotiation.

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Workers building high-end apartments in Worcester claim wage theft and payroll fraud

By Melissa Hanson
on April 25, 2017

 

Five local carpenters who were working on a mixed-use building that includes high-end apartments in downtown Worcester are claiming that they were victims of wage theft and payroll fraud.

The carpenters, who were employed by P&B Partitions, a contractor based in West Berlin, New Jersey, say they were victims of wage and hour violations. Three of the carpenters have filed wage complaints with the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office, according to a statement from the New England Regional Council of Carpenters.

According to the wage complaints, P&B did not pay the carpenters for all hours worked and frequently paid the workers for overtime hours in cash and at less than the rate required by state law.

Dave Minasian, a spokesman for the New England Regional Council of Carpenters, said the amount of money the workers claim they were bilked of is not being released at this time.

P&B said they did not have anyone immediately available to comment on the complaint. Minasian said P&B has not responded to his organization.

The Worcester Carpenters Union is assisting the workers in recovering the allegedly lost wages.

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Illegal ‘underground’ construction costing NJ taxpayers millions, report finds

By: Andrew Polk
Posted: Oct 08, 2016 04:26 PM CDT

The state of New Jersey is losing millions of uncollected tax dollars every year because of a robust and growing underground construction economy, according to a new report by researchers at the Stockton University William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy.

The report finds this illegal construction activity illegally undercuts companies that follow the rules, decreases work opportunities for union workers and may be responsible for the state’s declining construction wages compared to other states.

According to John Froonjian, one of the authors of the Stockton report and a senior research associate and manager of the Stockton Polling Institute, what’s happening is very significant and very costly to the state.

“The construction underground economy, it’s probably worth at least $640 million and our ranges go from half a billion to $1.2 billion dollars and it involves 35,000 workers across New Jersey,” he said.

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Working to Stop Wage Theft

6-6-16
By Michael Hill, Correspondent

Felix Lema said a construction job boss stole his wages.

Make the Road New Jersey recently helped him recover some of his pay.

“I had been owed wages for a long time by my employer. I asked him everyday please pay me, please pay me. One day he said you need to go home now you need to stop asking me and he gave me a ride home. Instead of taking me home he drove me to the Elizabeth Immigration Detention Center where the threat was deportation,” said Sara Cullinane, state director of Make the Road New Jersey who was translating Lemas’ words.

The Senate Labor Committee just approved Senate bill 1396. It would allow wage theft victims to have their claims not only heard by the state Labor Department but in municipal and superior courts, allow disorderly persons’ charges against violators and increase the statute of limitations to recover unpaid wages from two to six years.

New Jersey Working Families – the same organization behind raising the minimum wage – is leading the charge on wage theft protection.

“We have to make sure that every worker actually receives compensation,” said New Jersey Working Families Executive Director Analilia Mejia.

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Construction boss convicted of not paying fair

1:23 PM, NOVEMBER 20, 2014 

Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced the conviction and sentencing of Leonid Fridman for failing to pay legally required wages to his workers on a Port Authority of New York and New Jersey construction project.

Fridman pled guilty to the felony crimes of grand larceny in the second degree and violation of prevailing wage requirements of New York State Labor Law.  As a condition of the plea, Fridman agreed to pay $200,000 in restitution to underpaid workers and prohibition from working on public works projects for five years.  Fridman was sentenced to five years of probation.

“Mr. Fridman is being held accountable for stealing wages from workers who renovated parts of JFK,” Attorney General Schneiderman said. “My office will continue to take strong action, including filing criminal charges, against employers who violate New York’s labor laws, steal taxpayer dollars and violate the public trust.”

Based upon court filings and statements in court, Fridman, 60, owned and operated Millennium Commercial Corp., a Brooklyn-based company that performed tile work.

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Taking a Bigger Bite out of Wage Theft in the Garden State

Two central New Jersey towns are attempting to crack down on employers who illegally withhold wages from workers — tying local business licenses to compliance with state wage laws.

The new rules, adopted by New Brunswick in December and Princeton on Monday, give the towns the ability to refuse to renew the license of businesses that have been found guilty either in court or by the state Department of Labor of wage theft — not paying for all hours worked, not paying at least the minimum wage, or not paying overtime.

Activists who helped craft the local ordinances say they could be a model for other communities and are reaching out to expand the wage-theft provisions to other towns. They also hope the local efforts can spur action on a state bill — A1317 — that would make it easier for workers to file wage-theft claims and would increase penalties on those convicted of wage theft.

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Prevailing wage is a middle class booster: Opinion

New Jersey is poised to enact meaningful economic development legislation that could bring about a surge in the growth of middle-class jobs, strengthening communities throughout the state. The Senate Budget Committee and sponsors of the Assembly’s bill must be congratulated for adding to the Economic Opportunity Act crucial provisions that create family-sustaining jobs, which both the Senate and Assembly have overwhelmingly approved. The prevailing wage provisions mean that jobs created or saved will provide dignity and economic security – real economic opportunity for New Jersey’s working families.