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Workers protest LIC builder

Two immigrant workers at an upscale apartment renovation company in Long Island City are demanding thousands of dollars in back wages and overtime they say the company never paid them.

Carlos Espinoza and Luis Bustillos joined roughly two dozen other members of the immigrant advocacy group Make the Road New York at a protest in front of the York Restoration’s Queens offices on 33rd Street Friday, chanting in Spanish for York to “pay what they owe.”

Officials from York were not available for comment Friday afternoon. Calls placed to York’s office Tuesday were picked up and then terminated without an answer.

The company owes Bustillos $9,000 and Espinoza $4,000, according to the men, who worked as bricklayers on apartment jobs in Manhattan.

“In the beginning, they started paying me every two weeks my wages, but after a while I saw they weren’t paying my wages completely,” Espinoza, 23, said through an interpreter. “Weeks of no pay turned into months of no pay.”

Bustillos, 47, who sends money back to his three children in Ecuador, said the missing wages made it hard to make ends meet.

“I found myself in situations where I didn’t have enough money to buy myself food,” he said.

The men claimed to have worked as much as 58 hours a week without receiving any overtime pay.

Espinoza quit in September after having worked a year at York. Bustillos quit around the same time after having spent two years there.

“I left because I was not working for free,” Espinoza said.

“It’s very common, sadly,” said Make the Road organizer Julissa Bisonos. “These employers find ways to get people into this company and then not pay them.”

Michelle Duffy, a spokeswoman for the state Labor Department, confirmed that two employees had filed claims against York.

“We’re investigating them,” she said, declining to comment further. “It’s not a done investigation.”

Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e−mail at jewalsh@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 154.

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