Oct. 30, 2015 By Jackie Strawbridge
An Astoria contractor has been debarred from working in New York after cheating three workers out of tens of thousands in wages.
Astoria General Contracting Corp., located at 35-34 31st St., paid three immigrant employees a third of what they were owed for their work repairing and installing equipment at City schools, City Comptroller Scott Stringer found.
As a result, Astoria General is debarred from working in the City or State for the next five years and must pay more than $1.1 million.
“My office has zero tolerance for unscrupulous contractors who attempt to cheat workers out of their rightfully-owed prevailing wages and benefits,” Stringer said in a statement. “Paying workers a fair wage is not a choice, it’s the law. Three men are going to get the wages they deserve and another contractor has learned the hard way that we take our enforcement of prevailing wage very seriously.”
Stringer’s office used surveillance video and security and visitor logs to determine that Astoria General was reporting payment on only one of its three employees. The contractor then paid the workers only $13 or $25 per hour – in cash or gross check – for work that should have cost $75 to $80 per hour, a spokesperson for the Comptroller said.
The $1.1 million that Astoria General owes includes $735,000 in unpaid wages and benefits, as well as about $200,000 each for interest and civil penalties.
So far, the Comptroller’s office has collected $226,000 on behalf of the workers by withholding money from Astoria General’s contracts with the city.
The contractor could not immediately be reached for comment.
Reach reporter Jackie Strawbridge at [email protected]