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Bay Shore trucking firm to pay $1.8M to workers

A Bay Shore-based trucking firm with a federal contract to haul mail has agreed to pay $1.83 million in back wages and benefits to more than 500 workers, settling a federal probe.

It's one of the largest findings on Long Island for any type of wage and hour case, said Irv Miljoner, the Long Island director for the U.S. Labor Department's wage and hour division.

MT Transportation and Logistics Services, contracted by the U.S. Postal Service to truck mail on the East Coast, did not pay employees for all hours worked from December 2005 to December 2008, the primary allegation against the business, labor officials said. The firm also gave some workers less than the contracted rate, did not pay fringe benefits to all and made illegal paycheck deductions, including for truck damages, Miljoner said.

After a two-year investigation in which postal authorities withheld almost $1 million from MT, an administrative law judge in Cherry Hill, N.J., last week approved the findings and the Labor Department's request to bar the company and four key officials, including president Anthony Alvarez, from getting new federal contracts for three years. Companies that hire the four officials as principals will not be able to get federal contracts for three years, Miljoner said.

In a statement, the company said the big dispute was over benefits. Wages and benefits were lumped together in the hourly rate, MT said, but labor officials saw it as failure to pay benefits, an interpretation "repugnant to common sense."

"We decided that continuing the litigation would result in the destruction of MT, even if we were successful, and therefore amicably resolved the matter, paying considerably less than was demanded by the department but considerably more than we believed was owed," the statement said.

Several MT drivers at the Postal Service's Bethpage facility said they had no pay problems. One who declined to give his name said MT last week gave notices with rates posted.

"I keep track of my hours constantly, and it's always accurate, to the minute," William O'Sullivan, an MT driver for 10 years, said about his paycheck.

The labor investigator on the case, Camille Coppola, said hourly rates ranged from $17 to $21, but when unpaid work hours are factored in, rates were $3 to $5 less than contracted.

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