10 years later, battle continues over pay for workers in Philly

A battle over pay continues between a firm that did work for the city of Philadelphia and its former workers.

A contractor who worked on demolition as part of Philadelphia’s Neighborhood Transformation Initiative a decade ago — and didn’t pay its workers what they say they’re due — has come under scrutiny from City Council.

In 2003 about two dozen ex-offenders entered a job-training program to work on houses and buildings as part of former Mayor John Street’s Neighborhood Transformation Initiative. Partial payment was given to some of the workers, but not the prevailing wage in the city.

For years, the workers fought the non-payment and won a challenge against LP Group 2, but the contractor still did not pay them.

Senior city law department attorney Michelle Flamer says a hold was put on some of the money due to the contractor, which could be used to pay the workers.

“It’s our opinion that LP Group 2 has had adequate due process, they’ve had four meetings, four hearings before the Board of Labor Standards since 2005, to deliberate these citation letters,” she said.

At a recent hearing, City Council members also called on the violations to be referred to District Attorney Seth Williams for possible criminal prosecution and the inspector general for review.

Councilman Brian O’Neill said he believes this could be a criminal matter.

“At least worth investigating as a criminal act,” he said. “People seem to get around almost everything else, but what you don’t get around is a criminal indictment or charge where you personally might be at risk.”

A spokesman for the company says the NTI program contained an exemption from “prevailing wages” and that’s why it doesn’t believe the workers are due additional pay.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.