En EspaƱol Know Your Rights
Source: Daily News
Subject: Workplace Justice
Type: Media Coverage

Workers who were stiffed fight for pay

Two Ecuadoran
immigrants are claiming that a Long
Island
City

construction company stiffed them out of thousands of dollars in wages.

Carlos
Espinoza and Luis Castillos both said that York Restoration, a company that
specializes in remodeling luxury apartments, forced them to work grueling hours
and then denied them overtime and wages.

"I was
required to work 58 hours a week and they never paid me overtime," said
Castillos, 47, of Brooklyn, who sends money home to his three teenage children
in Ecuador.
"I would come to the office and would ask what was going on with my
paycheck."

More than
50 members of the immigrant advocacy group
Make the Road New York protested outside York‘s headquarters on Friday, chanting
"Justice for Luis and Carlos" and "George, pay us what you owe
us."

George York
is a general contractor with the company, according to city Buildings
Department records.

When Queens
News called York‘s
business number, someone hung up three times. A call to an emergency cell phone
number used by York
indicated it was temporarily disconnected.

Make the Road New York member
Julissa Bisono
said
that the group has received nine complaints from York workers and the organization filed a
complaint with the state Department of Labor in March against the company.

"York says that they
weren’t workers. But they wore uniforms, had ID cards from York and they drove
around in York vehicles," said
Bisono
outside the company’s three-story Long
Island
City

building. "They’re not in compliance with New York State
labor laws.

"They’re
mostly undocumented workers and some documented. No matter what their status,
people are being exploited by them,"
Bisono said.

Espinoza said
that many workers left the company after a few weeks because of problems
getting their wages.

"I
worked six days a week, 12 hours a day," said Espinoza, 23, through a
translator. "I went months without being paid. They would always give me
excuses about why they couldn’t pay.

"I had
to leave because I wasn’t going to work for free," he added.

Castillos,
who quit in September, said the company owes him nearly $10,000.

"Thank
God I had savings because I was able to take care of my family back in Ecuador,"
said Castillos. "After several months, I realized they owed me thousands
of dollars."