THE BRONX — A PIX11 News Investigation is being credited with bringing about a satisfying ending to a year long struggle by a group of BronxCare Hospital morgue workers to get paid.
As we reported in May 2020, at least a dozen people were hired by subcontractor Rhythm of Life, a company headed by Lincoln Crane, a licensed funeral director. Rhythm of Life had been hired by MBL Construction, headed by Carmine Bossio, who had previously done construction work at BronxCare Hospital, formerly Bronx Lebanon Hospital on the Grand Concourse.
The workers were paid $75 an hour because the job was difficult, messy, and often backbreaking. They were hired when the hospital’s morgue was over capacity with victims of COVID-19. Their job was to move the hundreds of body bags out of the morgue and into the refrigerated trailers outside in the parking lot.
The job was made even more difficult because the mechanical lifts, normally used to move the bodies, were not working much of the time. There was also no ramp leading into the trailers. The bodies had to be carried.
At first, the trailers were filled with bodies piled on the floor. The workers had to build shelves to put the victims and devise a computer program to keep track of the victims so they could be quickly retrieved when funeral homes and families came to pick them up.
The workers were paid directly by subcontractor Rhythm of Life, which was paid by MBL. Documents obtained by PIX11 News show approximately $126,000 was paid by MBL for the first two months the workers were on the job.
However, in May 2020, after ten weeks, the money from MBL allegedly stopped coming. Bossio allegedly told some of the workers he was waiting for the hospital to pay him. But BronxCare told PIX11 News that Bossio had been paid in full.
Despite not receiving checks for at least two weeks, many of the workers chose to stay on the job, after being promised the money would soon be coming. But they never received it. After PIX11 News got involved, Bossio allegedly offered to pay the workers $63,000.
They declined the offer because they said they were owed much more than that. They hired an attorney, hoping to force Bossio to pay all they were owed.
This week, the workers’ attorney reported to them that Bossio had made another offer. We have no confirmation of the terms or the amount involved, since the settlement was tied to a Non-Disclosure Agreement. However, pictures we’ve seen of workers with their checks show them smiling. On top of that, Lincoln Crane and Rhythm of Life were also paid in full and reportedly used part of that money to add 35% more to the workers’ checks, as compensation for the year-long wait.
Some of the workers say the settlement would never have happened were it not for PIX11 News’ involvement. We’re happy to have played a part in bringing about a resolution.
If you’ve got a story idea you’d like us to investigate, please contact Arnold Diaz at Arnold.Diaz@pix11.com.