It’s been a rough few weeks for the nation’s largest boatyard, Progressive Boat Yard in New York City.
The facility is in the throes of bankruptcy, and is being sued by owners of two former workers who allege they were fired without cause for violating a workplace safety law.
In a report issued on Wednesday, the Department of Labor called on the Department to investigate whether Progressive violated the National Labor Relations Act.
Progressive, owned by a company called Progressive Maritime, was founded in 1894 and has been run by the former George F. Bush administration.
The company has been under federal and state investigation since 2007.
In 2012, the New York State Labor Board ruled that the workers who sued the company had violated the law.
Progies employees and subcontractors said that they were forced to work long hours, on top of a daily schedule of overtime and long shifts, in dangerous conditions, and that supervisors repeatedly ignored the workers’ requests to work from home or on days when they would not be in the office.
The workers allege that the company made them feel guilty and discouraged them from reporting problems, according to a labor board filing.
Progresers workers allege they have experienced verbal and physical harassment, forced them to drink bleach, and had their medical records accessed by Progreser executives.
The case is being overseen by Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, who last year proposed new workplace protections for workers at the industry-run facilities.
Progesers workers also allege that Progressive has used a “no-contact order” to punish workers who speak out about unsafe conditions.
The employees’ suit alleges that Progys management has retaliated against them and that they have suffered emotional and psychological distress.
The Workers’ Compensation Commission has also investigated Progressive and said in a report that the firm violated the act when it fired workers for complaining about unsafe working conditions.
But Perez’s proposal is still under review.
“We will continue to work closely with our Department to ensure that the rulemaking is implemented fairly and without discrimination against workers or their families,” Perez said in an emailed statement.
The Labor Department’s Office of Workers’ Control, which has been investigating Progressive since 2013, said in the report that Progreseries labor practices are “particularly concerning.”
The workers said that Progression’s “systematically biased, retaliatory, and punitive workplace practices have seriously harmed their health and safety and adversely impacted their ability to work safely and efficiently.”
Progreses workers allege Progressive made them believe that the labor law was against them, and threatened to fire them if they spoke out.
The complaint also alleges that employees were paid overtime on days they would have otherwise worked from home.
Progression has said that it is “committed to protecting workers from harmful workplace conditions” and that it will investigate all allegations of retaliation.
“Progressive is committed to protecting the rights of its employees and contractors to organize, bargain collectively, and collectively bargain for fair wages, health, and safety,” the company said in its statement.
Progsers has been hit with two lawsuits filed by workers who are also workers at Progressive facilities.
The first, filed in April, accused the company of firing them for unionizing and for taking time off without pay.
The second, filed last week, accused Progression of forcing employees to work longer hours and demanding a $500 premium for work done on days that the owners would not allow.
Progress did not respond to a request for comment.
Progtes workers say they were not allowed to discuss their complaints with management, who called them “looters.”
A Progressive spokesperson said in June that the two workers have “always been respectful and cooperative” and have “never been in the workplace for the purpose of unionizing.”
In its report, the Labor Department said that the former workers were fired on the basis of their union affiliation.
Progenys employees and the workers filing the new lawsuit have been offered a severance package, according a letter the company sent to the workers.
The new agreement would cover their medical and other expenses.
“The severance agreement will include a generous payment of $1,500 per month for six months and a $1.1 million severance plan for the entire six-month period,” the letter said.
“Your termination will result in a significant reduction in your total compensation, including the payment of the severance payment and severance benefits.”