Day Laborers Protest Unpaid Wages in Mamaroneck

Several day laborers owed money came out yesterday to inform the community.


They stood in front of Bar Harbor Grill on 181 E. Boston Post Rd. in Mamaroneck on a bright, sunny afternoon passing out flyers to incoming patrons, alerting them to an inconvenient fact: day laborers who worked to renovate the premises may not have been paid wages owed to them.

Luis Quiros, a local community activist and author of An Other’s Mind, along with several day laborers who came out to support the cause yesterday, handed out flyers with a simple request:

This new establishment in our neighborhood was renovated entirely by day laborers whose work has gone uncompensated for months. The workers are owed upwards of $1,500 and have been patiently waiting for their wages to be paid. Deadlines established by the owner have passed without payment. The workers and their families are hurting tremendously. They had to endure the holidays without resources to meet their basic needs let alone celebrate. At this point, their housing and their next meal is at risk. Please stop patronizing this establishment in solidarity. Remind merchants who abuse workers that this neighborhood will not stand for injustice.

Jesus Vasquez told Patch through a translator that he worked at Bar Harbor during its renovation from April-October 2012, but that payments started falling short in July.  He said that he was given wages to distribute to four other workers, but when the payments dried up completely, he stopped bringing in the others.  

According to Vasquez, the workers are owed a total of $1,800. Initially, he was told that there would be a delay in payment as owner Kevin Moynihan did not have the funds to pay for the work. Vasquez said that several attempts made to collect funds were either rebuffed or ignored.

Moynihan did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

Luis Cuavarrama also spoke to Patch through a translator about $3,150 owed to him by a Mamaroneck-based landscaping company owned by Michael Castellano. 

He said he is on the verge of eviction and behind on his rent due to the unpaid wages originating from work performed several months ago. Cuavarrama said that he was originally told by Castellano that the delay in wages was due to him not being paid by customers for work that was done. Later, he said Castellano told him that the work was not finished properly.

But Castellano says the withholding of wages was not without cause. “He was not finishing houses.  I had a lot of trouble collecting money from houses.”

Castellano said some customers complained that work was not being completed properly or left unfinished, and that, as a result, he eventually lost two clients. 

But the issue of unpaid wages is one that Quiros sees frequently among day laborers, for whom steady hours and regular pay are not always guaranteed.

“They’d rather not get involved with the court system because they have them going back and forth between court dates…if they go to court they’ll miss a day of work,” said Quiros, referring to the tendency of some workers to simply give up on the idea of recovering lost wages.

Vasquez said that he previously went to small claims court to obtain $3,500 in lost wages from a Harrison-based contractor he’d worked for.  Despite the judge ruling in his favor and Vasquez having to pay for the judgment to be delivered, has still not seen payment.

The Wage Theft Protection Act, which took effect in NY in April 2011, requires employers to provide all new hires with written notice of wage rates in both English and the employee’s language.  According to the enhanced law, employers can be fined up to $10K for firing, penalizing or threatening an employee who complains that wages were unpaid. 

Mary Too January 12, 2013 at 12:01 PM
With my job, if I do it poorly or if I don't finish projects, I get FIRED. With day laborers, if they are guilty of the same shortcomings, what option is there other than suspending their wages until such time as their job is done properly?
LMF January 12, 2013 at 03:45 PM
Have tried various times to hire day laborers from Jefferson Park to assist me and my wife(seniors) do gardening/cleanup around the house. Offered them $10hr. cash (8 hr) plus lunch. All insist on $15 cash plus 8 hr guarantee for $120,.. don't bother asking for soc. sec. card or papers. Fast food workers get $8-10 hr. ON the books. Know what? Lazy and greedy we don't need....enjoy the park!
FML January 12, 2013 at 04:13 PM
You try to live on $80 for a day's work!
T Hall January 12, 2013 at 05:24 PM
80 bucks is better than 0 if you are an undocumented worker I would think.
T Hall January 12, 2013 at 05:37 PM
80 bucks a day is like getting a120 paycheck with taxes taken out Based on a 5 day work week (even though some of them work 6 or 7 days a week) 120x5= 600 dollars a week 600 x 52 = 31,200 a year if it were a pay check Bottom line. If your not paying taxes you have no complaint.
LifeLongResident January 12, 2013 at 06:20 PM
Mary too, I am surprised at you, where is your sense of fairness? Why are you believing and taking the side of a guy who is not paying his workers? You don't do the work to the Boss' satisfaction, you don't get hired back, that's it but you still get paid for you day's labor. I believe it is against the law not to pay some one for their labor for ANY reason. He hired him, he should pay them, just because they don't get the work done as fast as he wants doesn't mean he doesn't have to live up to his obigation to pay them. The rest of you, except FML, shame on you! You are encouraging a race to the bottom where people can barely scrape by.. Pay them anything you want and they should be happy? What rubbish. When my father moved here as a young man he work as a laborer, many times between regular jobs doing day work jjust like these folks. Your reasoning, math and mentality are below contempt.
jeff meyer January 12, 2013 at 06:27 PM
There is no excuse for not paying a worker his/her wages. If their work is unsatisfactory then don't rehire them. To continue to use them and owe them in excess of $3,000 and not pay them and then say that there work is subpar is bogus. Yes, bogus. Jeff Meyer Tuckahoe, NY
SRT January 12, 2013 at 08:59 PM
Pretty pathetic, I will certainly not frequent that restaurant until these workers have been paid for their work. That location has had difficulties recently keeping a business going, this is not a good start for the new owner.
Local January 12, 2013 at 11:34 PM
Nice way to support a local business Kim and add monies to our tax base and local laborer income. Seems to me that everyone is responding with their own personal narratives. We need to stop this now. Great story-small businessman against hispanic immigrant. Just great Patch-continue to further fuel the animosity in this country and just great-let's bring it to Mamaroneck. Shame on you for publishing this story with so little facts :(( i hope every small business is given a chance to succeed here and that all who have nice cushy jobs can continue to trash them. #disgustedwith10543
Local January 13, 2013 at 12:25 AM
Very poor reporting. No documentation, seemingly biased. I have never felt so ashamed of your shoddy work before as I am now. You have totally lost credibility. Pay the laborers cited in this article the 1500 due and start supporting the risks it takes to establish a local business in town. What have you done to encourage start ups lately??? Have you seen Palmer Avenue lately. Still waiting for new businesses to fill the spots left vacant by Natural Identity, Active Sports, Larchmont Store.
mark January 13, 2013 at 01:48 PM
LMF, you and others hiring day laborers are the real problem to begin with. If you dont like the cost of legit companies then you should call your legislaors and tell them to cut back on the ridiculous and costly regulations that drive costs up. Ask them to cut back on workers comp costs while your at it. I am sure you compared prices and found that no legit company will pull into your driveway for less than $500.
Luis Quiros January 13, 2013 at 05:29 PM
It is not surprising to read negative comments concerning injustice of unpaid wages towards people viewed as the “Others”. After all, Mamaroneck announced its 350 birthday celebration with the same negativity of words (exploit and oppress): On Sept. 23, 1661, English merchant John Richbell bought the land that now comprises the Town of Mamaroneck from Siwanoy chiefs Wappaquewam and Mahatahan. The price: 20 coats, 12 shirts, 10 pairs of stockings, 20 hands of powder,…15 hoes, 15 hatchets, three kettles… We are the cause of empty stores (greedy land owners), high taxes (countless lawsuits), poor public school educational results once our children leave and compete with the rest of the world’s population (we keep supporting a school board controlled by a selection committee that ascertains Whiteness). We celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King’s Day by having mostly White speakers frame what creates applause from a mostly uninformed financially-protected audience. Advocacy is framed safely and within the limits of networks and political allegiances, examples are commissions and coalitions (i.e. Summit) neglecting to hit at the pulse of the issues. This perpetuates propaganda and promotes a lack of reality and honesty. At least there are the very few who will take the risk to report what has been standard practice since the landing of the first European ship, stripping "Others" of justice and dignity.
Tax Payer January 13, 2013 at 06:12 PM
Luis Quiros, why don't you encourage your friends to protest in a court like the rest of us?
Luis Quiros January 13, 2013 at 10:05 PM
Not paying Day laborers is a pattern, a practice, a strategy, a page from days of slavery. Please re-read this article. Small claims court almost always rule in favor of Day Laborers. Yet, they're almost never paid. When are we going to learn that our constitution, even for the documented, is worthless? It was founded with exclusions that left so many unprotected. Corporations own the politicians. Profit before people. Middle class is done. How can we say that document is an example of democracy when human dignity is a luxury. Revolution is a requirement.
Tax Payer January 14, 2013 at 01:04 AM
I did read this article and your incoherent comments several times. Thank you. Please re-read my comment. Then you will understand that I am suggesting that your explanation for Vasquez's aversion to the court system is bogus. While I do think it is reprehensible for anyone not to be compensated for the work, the fact remains that these "day laborers" are undocumented and therefore unprotected by our court system. I pay more than $1,500 dollars in taxes a year. . . so I am sympathetic to Mr. Vasquez's situation, while simultaneously feeling outraged and insulted that he has the audacity to protest when he doesn't pay taxes.
Stefani Kim January 14, 2013 at 05:00 AM
Dear Local, Thanks for commenting. For the record, my name is Stefani. Also, please note that I asked both business owners for their side of the story, so as not to create a one-sided and biased article. One chose to comment and one chose not to respond. Best, Stefani
BG7 January 14, 2013 at 02:36 PM
Mr. Quiros' bigotry, dressed up as "noble community defender of the disenfranchised", continues unabated. Try wearing light-excluding spectacles for one year. That way you can listen to what people are doing and saying, and not be confused in your opinions by their distasteful white color.
BG7 January 14, 2013 at 02:42 PM
I will not be eating here again until I see some progress has been made. This is not acceptable. I'd also be interested to know whether the local car wash teams get paid their due. I've tried asking if they actually get the tips from the tip box at one establishment - but its not clear. The language barrier is an issue.
Mary Too January 15, 2013 at 02:02 PM
Mr. Quiros, your comment is incoherent, bigoted and racist.
James Adnaraf January 15, 2013 at 03:55 PM
The workers have to be paid, period. The problem is not a suprise, since the use of labor of people who are not in the country legally creates all sorts of problems.
James Adnaraf January 15, 2013 at 05:55 PM
The workers should get their wages, but Luis Quiros sets back the immigrant cause with his attacks on white people. He has a deep resentment towards Whites and Europeans. That sure helps the cause of the individuals who were wrongly denied their wages. Sadly, from each ethnic group, a portion of the activist community is bigoted. Luis Quiros has just created a few more people who are not sympathetic to the well being of the immigrant population. With friends like him, who needs enemies? Que verguenza.
James Adnaraf January 15, 2013 at 05:59 PM
We have Hugo Chavez II speaking above. The non payment of wages, even to those who are not in the country legally, is a rare occurrence, and when it happens, a lot of white folks support the immigrants efforts to get paid.
Mary Too January 15, 2013 at 07:19 PM
The bottom line is DON'T HIRE DAY LABORERS! Why hire someone who comes with no references? Why hire someone who may not have the ability to do the job properly? Why hire someone who has no workmen' s comp and will sue you if he is injured on the job? Do you really think that you will get quality work for $10.00 an hour? HIRE ESTABLISHED, REPUTABLE, TAX- PAYING WORKERS! You get what you pay for.
Dorine Watkins July 09, 2013 at 07:37 AM
There is a lot of conflict with the laborers and the illegals that I feel from time to time but the truth is they are very hard workers. I resent their not paying taxes, working off the books and collecting all the benefits that I my self work two jobs to obtain, however, if they are the same owners that originally remodeled and began that establishment I can tell you from personal experience that they are not upstanding people. I worked there when they first opened and one of the owners would go upstairs at the end of my shift and leave me down at the bar for hours waiting for her to sign me out, which of course I wasn't getting paid for. I also spend a month cleaning and moving furniture for peanuts only to be told one day at a time when to come to work. They hired 12 people when they only need 5.


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