NYC Comptroller To MTA: Subway Cleaners Owed Normal Wages

WCBS 880 Newsroom
May 18, 2020 - 6:32 pm

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NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer on Monday urged the MTA to ensure that all contractors and subway cleaners are being paid a fare wage with benefits. 

The Comptroller’s Office has determined that building service employee prevailing wage rates apply to these cleaning contracts and that the contracts do not appear to currently require the payment of prevailing wages and benefits.

Stringer wrote a letter to MTA Chairman and CEO Pat Foye addressing the concern.

“It has come to my attention that the New York City Transit Authority has contracted with private cleaning companies to perform the important task of cleaning and disinfecting subway stations and trains, but these companies may not be paying their employees prevailing wages and benefits,” he wrote.

“Based upon review of the scope of work in the cleaning contract, I have determined that building service prevailing wage rates under Labor Law Article 9 apply,” he continued. “The cleaners employed on these contracts are performing work that is of great public benefit and importance.”

Stringer says the cleaners are risking their own health to ensure that New Yorkers can use the transit system safely, without fear of infection.

“I urge you to ensure that the contractors providing these cleaning services are paying prevailing wages and benefits to their employees immediately, and if not, to see to it that they provide retroactive pay to them from the time they commenced work on this important public project,” the comptroller wrote.

The letter to the agency came on the same day that the MTA announced it was expanding antibody testing for all employees throughout the metropolitan region at no cost to them. 

MTA employees will be able to get tested at 52 Northwell Health-GoHealth Urgent Care facilities in the New York area from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays and 9 5 p.m. on weekends.

“Antibody testing is a critical tool for providing important health information to our employees and helping workers safely return to work in large numbers,” said Foye. “We are moving quickly and strategically to make sure our employees are able to get tested, and are hopeful that, in time, this will help bolster the number of healthy workers who are able to move the essential workers in the fight against this pandemic.”

Priority will be given to employees designated as essential and performing critical operational roles. Participation in the program is voluntary.

The MTA continues its comprehensive disinfecting efforts throughout its entire rolling stock, including poles, seating, floor, ceiling, doors and walls. 

The agency previously launched the nation-leading “Temperature Brigade” by conducting nearly 150,000 temperature checks to date across New York City Transit, Metro-North Railroad, the Long Island Rail Road and MTA Bridges and Tunnels. 

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