Senator Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr. (8th Senate District), a member of the State Senate’s Labor Committee, announced that legislation he sponsored to protect workers is now New York State law. The legislation was supported in the Assembly by Assemblyman Thomas P. DiNapoli (16th Assembly District) and backed by Nassau County District Attorney Denis Dillon.
Under the new law, subcontractors are now required to abide by the same prevailing wage regulations as prime contractors. Because of a loophole in the previous law, subcontractors were often able to escape criminal punishment for failing to pay their workers prevailing wages. This new law closes the loophole and subjects these subcontractors to criminal prosecution.
"Prevailing wage laws were created to protect workers from being exploited. Unfortunately, some companies violate these laws in order to reduce their labor costs, enabling them to submit a lower bid on a public works project. When contractors and subcontractors break these laws, they are not only violating the rights of their workers, they are getting an unfair advantage over law abiding companies," said Senator Fuschillo. "This new law will give law enforcement officers another resource to ensure a level playing field by prosecuting companies that violate the labor law."
"This is not a victimless crime. Honest contractors who pay their workers the correct wage report can no longer compete in the public sector and, as a direct result, New York workers find that they cannot participate in construction projects for schools, libraries and fire districts. Experience has also shown that contractors who underpay their workers and forge payroll transcripts take other shortcuts as well" added District Attorney Dillon. "Because the wages are so exceptionally low, many workers lack the skills necessary to ply their trade. Dishonest contractors, who are aware of the these shortcomings often go to great lengths to conceal their mistakes. This, in turn, leads to substandard construction that poses a danger to the public."
First time violators of the prevailing wage law face misdemeanor charges and will be punished by a fine of five hundred dollars, imprisonment of up to 30 days or both. Those found guilty of violating this law for a second time will face a fine of up to $1,000, forfeiture of their contract and the loss of any sum owed to their company.
"We have now closed the legal loopholes, preventing these unscrupulous contractors from taking away local jobs and hurting honest businesses through exploitation," Senator Fuschillo added. "Now the playing field is truly level and all those companies who protect their workforce will be able to compete for jobs without being penalized for following the law."
This new law is effective immediately.
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