NYC comptroller lawsuit against MTA alleges $2.5M in unpaid wages for contract subway cleaners

Comptroller Brad Lander says two companies contracted by the MTA to clean the subways during the pandemic didn’t provide a prevailing wage for their workers. The MTA is suing in return saying the comptroller’s office misinterpreted the law.

Ashley Mastronardi

Feb 27, 2024, 12:41 AM

Updated 46 days ago

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There’s a spitting match between the MTA and the New York City comptroller over $2.5 million in unpaid wages.
Comptroller Brad Lander says two companies contracted by the MTA to clean the subways during the pandemic didn’t provide a prevailing wage for their workers. The MTA is suing in return saying the comptroller’s office misinterpreted the law.
“A prevailing wage is when the government, the city, the MTA spend public money – tax payer dollars and we say we shouldn’t be using taxpayer dollars to pay people poverty wages and no benefits...the MTA has workers who do this similar work and it pays them decent wages and gives them benefits...it can’t get around that obligation by hiring contractors and having them undercut the wages of workers who do this kind of work,” Lander told News 12 New York. 
He says the prevailing wage in this case was between $20-$40 an hour – he says the workers were paid less than $20. The MTA is off the hook legally, but both contracted companies - Fleetwash and LN Pro - have been named in Lander’s lawsuit.  A person who answered the phone at Fleetwash – which has since changed its name to Kept Companies – declined to comment, but LN Pro presented us with an email dated April 27, 2020 in which the MTA confirms a prevailing wage does not apply. LN Pro told News 12 New York in a statement: 
“For the comptroller's office to blame us for not paying prevailing wage as part of their feud with the MTA, and disparage our reputation in the process, is deplorable. It is an outrageous attack against a small, minority-and-woman-owned business that worked tirelessly to keep this city running during the pandemic. The MTA and Comptroller should resolve their fight and leave us out of it." 
If Lander gets his way, he says these workers will get the back wages they deserve. 
“We’re talking about $2.5 million – which is a lot to cheat low-wage workers out of. It’s about $5,000 - $6,000 for some of these workers. That’s the difference between being able to afford the rent and not afford the rent,” he said. 
When News 12 New York reached out to the MTA for comment they sent their legal filing against Lander and his office, in which they argue these prevailing wages apply to building workers. They told News 12 these were all COVID-era cleaning contracts that have lapsed. 


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