Unions in NYC pushing for wage theft bill to hold subcontractors accountable

Union members rally outside the Waldorf-Astoria in Manhattan on May 6, 2021 in support of a bill that would combat wage theft in New York state.
Photo courtesy NYC District Council of Carpenters

Unions across New York continue to push for the passage of legislation that would combat wage theft and ensure that all workers on the job get the pay they deserve.

On May 6, union carpenters and local elected officials rallied outside the Waldorf-Astoria in Manhattan to voice support for the Wage Theft Bill, companion legislation introduced in the state Assembly and state Senate, which would require all general contractors to be held liable for any wage theft and civil violations that a subcontractor may commit. 

The legislation is co-sponsored by Queens state Senator Jessica Ramos and Bronx Assemblywoman Latoya Joyner. The bills are currently in legislative committee. 

The historic Waldorf Astoria building is currently undergoing a major renovation project that includes a $25 million expansion of the landmark hotel. According to the NYC District Council of Carpenters, the developer behind the project, AECOM Tishman, partnered with Trident General Contracting in getting the project off the ground.

But the union charged that Trident General Contracting has “multiple pending wage theft lawsuits against it, and a history of troubling workplace safety incidents.”

NYC District Council Executive Secretary Treasurer Joe Geiger believes the passage of the wage theft bill would prevent firms from bilking their workers and ensure that developers and subcontractors alike would be held accountable. 

“For years, unscrupulous contractors have flown under that radar in broad daylight and built their million-dollar bank accounts by stealing the wages of workers who don’t know their rights or are too afraid to report the crime,” said Geiger. “We must put the lives and dignity of our fellow New Yorkers ahead of contractor greed and end wage theft once and for all by passing legislation championed by Senator Ramos and Assembly Member Latoya Joyner: S.2766/A.3350. This bill will safeguard all workers and ensure everyone has a protection when their employer tries to steal their hard-earned paycheck.”

Both Ramos and Joyner joined the union at the rally in support of their legislation. Also participating in the event were Manhattan state Senator and borough president candidate Brad Hoylman, Queens City Councilman Francisco Moya, Brooklyn City Councilman and city comptroller candidate Brad Lander, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, and mayoral candidates Kathryn Garcia and Dianne Morales.

“New Yorkers are being robbed of their hard-earned paychecks every single day and it’s time we put an end to it,” said Ramos. “The logic is simple: a full day’s work deserves a full day’s pay. I’m proud to stand with union carpenters at this rally to make clear that New York will not tolerate wage theft for one more day.”

“Wage theft is a crisis that hurts the construction industry, working class families, and our entire State’s economy. Now more than ever, we need to protect hard-working New Yorkers to ensure they can support themselves and their families,” said Joyner. “I commend union carpenters for advocating for victims of wage theft, including the workers employed by Trident General Contracting. It’s time to stand up to exploitative employers and put an end to wage theft for good, which we can do with S.2766/A.3350.”

More from around NYC