After a year working at Whisk Remodeling Corp., longtime NICE member Ariel Ortega (pictured above) asked for help reclaiming stolen wages. Sadly, we were well-acquainted with his employer, Whisk, having banned them from seeking workers at our Center, due to repeated complaints. But some of our members continued working there, hoping to get paid. Ariel was one of them.
While some employers simply refuse to pay, “Whisk actively tried to disorganize workers,” says Charlie Uruchima, NICE’s Lead Organizer for our Wage Theft Campaign. “Employees received checks that bounced, incomplete checks, checks with incorrect information. This practice kept employees working, as they assumed that one day they would get paid in full, and it ensured that employees would not know exactly how much they were owed.”
Through a partnership with the Manhattan District Attorney and other community partners, 15 NICE members and 14 other workers were able to collect $90,000 in back wages.
In this case, justice prevailed. Whisk got what was coming to them, and 29 hard-working people received their stolen wages. “Just imagine how many other employees out there didn’t come forward,” says Charlie.
These practices to systematically cheat workers out of pay are all-too-common, as we find in our Wage Theft work. Thankfully, the District Attorneys throughout NYC have committed to partner closely with NICE to target these bad actor employers, as they announced on Monday. You can read the full story in The New York Times here.