Jutting out into the Upper Bay, just across the water from Sunset Park in Brooklyn, lies a large rectangular peninsula whose rigid edges betray the rest of the landscape. Covered by a mass of concrete and blacktop, the structure appears dead; deserted like a minute, urban desert. This is the Military Ocean Terminal.
Created in the years before World War II, the man-made peninsula was designed to give the U.S. Navy extra space to dock their ships in the Upper Bay, which separates New Jersey from New York. Plans were made in the early 2000s to turn the abandoned shipyard into a residential community that overlooked downtown Manhattan, but then the recession hit, crippling Bayonne’s economy. The plans never came to fruition, and the terminal continued to decay.
Today, the site serves as a home to ship repair companies, who, like the land they occupy, are in some pretty serious trouble. Bayonne Dry Dock and Repair Corp, as well as Coastwide Material Supply, have been made to pay $720,000 in unpaid wages and damages to the US Department of Labor (DOL). The US DOL will then distribute that money to over 200 workers who were wrongfully denied proper overtime.
Dry Dock and Repair had a federal contract to repair US Navy and Coast Guard vessels, while Coastwide Material (which shares common ownership) was hired as a subcontractor for the work. Neither company kept accurate records, and when the DOL looked into the matter, they found that 224 workers were not paid properly. Moral of the story: don’t sign a government contract and then blatantly break the law.
Perhaps the most abhorrent part of this story is that most of the workers were displaced after Hurricane Sandy, and without a substantial income, they have had a difficult time keeping their heads above water.
“These back wages will go far to help these workers, many of whom were displaced from jobs after Hurricane Sandy,” stated John Warner of the Wage and Hour Division’s Northern New Jersey District Office. “The workers did what was expected of them and sought employment to provide for themselves and their families. They deserve proper payment for hard work.”
Yes, they do. And one would think that they should earn a bit more because of the delay.