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Comptroller Scott Stringer urges workers to claim unpaid wages

NEW YORK — As Labor Day approaches, the city is sitting on $5 million in unclaimed wages just waiting for workers to pick it up.

But many people don't even know they're owed the money.

"This isn't a giveaway from our office. We're holding other people's money. Money, that in some cases, they should have been paid years ago," City Comptroller Scott Stringer said.

Since Stringer took office, his team has collected $18 million in penalties and debarred 35 companies because they weren't paying their workers fair wages.

"That means they can't do business with this city," said Stringer. "And so we want to make it clear to people that we have zero tolerance for cheating workers."

Earlier this year, Stringer's office got 24 workers almost $350,000 in unpaid wages from Beacon Restoration. Back in July, PIX 11's James Ford was there as Wilson Lopez received $50,000 for his past work on a city-funded affordable housing project.

But Stringer said more than 1,000 workers still haven't come forward to claim their money. So $5 million is just sitting there.

"We don't care about immigration status. We want everyone to come forward," Stringer said.

Under state law the Comptroller's office establishes a prevailing wage for city public works projects.

So Even if you think you were being paid in full for a construction job, Stringer suggests contacting his office at (212) 669-4443 or going to the website — comptroller.nyc.gov/unclaimedwages — to see if your name is on the list.

"At the end of the day, people who work hard, play by the rules, work for a company, help to build this city they deserve the prevailing wage," Stringer said.