Lansing Prevailing Wage Law Upheld in Michigan Court of Appeals Decision

LANSING — A prevailing wage law passed by the city of Lansing does not violate the Michigan Constitution nor home rule restrictions passed by the Michigan Legislature, a divided Michigan Court of Appeals panel decided Wednesday.

The decision overturns a lower court ruling in favor of Associated Builders and Contractors, which had challenged the Lansing ordinance as unconstitutional, and says a 1923 court decision that barred cities from setting prevailing wage laws has been superseded by decisions over the last 90 years.

Lansing’s ordinance requires contractors working on city construction projects to pay a prevailing wage, which ABC had challenged as being outside the city’s authority under state law. ABC also cited a 1923 Michigan Supreme Court decision that barred the city of Detroit from enforcing a prevailing wage law. That opinion concluded that unless the state had given cities the authority to set such laws, cities could not enact rules governing wages.

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(Copy of Decision)

Collaborative Development: The Benefits of Public-Private Partnership

A new ILEPI Policy Brief, released this morning, investigates the pros and cons of public-private partnerships in the construction industry.

The report, Collaborative Development: The Pros and Cons of P3s on Construction Projects (PDF), finds that public-private partnerships (P3s)- such as the proposed Illiana Expressway– offer the potential for significant cost savings for the public sector. P3s allow governments to increase internal investment, capitalize on the efficiencies and innovations of private companies, and build infrastructure slightly less expensively and slightly more quickly. For the private sector, P3s provide stable assets (infrastructure facilities) with predictable long-term returns from user fees for portfolio diversification. P3s also allow private entities, backed by the government, to borrow cheaply.

The Policy Brief utilizes case studies to demonstrate how P3s may be mutually beneficial and discusses the expected positive benefits of three potential P3 projects in the Midwest.

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Arizona Utility Subcontractor Debarred From Federally Funded Projects

PHOENIX — The U.S. Department of Labor has recovered $198,085 in back wages for 23 workers employed by Glendale-based Tierra Contracting Inc. for willful violations of the Davis-Bacon and Related Acts and the Contract Work Hours and Safety Standards Act. Tierra Contracting and its owner, Richard Juarez Sr., also have been debarred from applying for federally funded contracts for a period of three years because of the egregious nature of the violations found.

Investigators with the department’s Wage and Hour Division in Phoenix established that Tierra Contracting failed to pay the required prevailing wage rates and fringe benefits to power equipment operators, water truck drivers, pipe layers, grade setters and laborers working at the federally funded Northern Parkway highway project in Maricopa County. Tierra Contracting routinely submitted certified payroll records that did not accurately reflect the real hours worked by the affected employees. Employees were paid for overtime hours with separate checks, off-the-record and at straight-time rates, without the additional time-and-a-half, as required.

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16th Annual NAFC Conference Registration

The National Alliance for Fair Contracting will be holding its 16th Annual Conference this year in the lakeside city of Chicago, IL, September 17-19, 2014.

The NAFC Conference provides a national forum for those committed to combating noncompliance of state and federal public contracting laws and draws attendance from contractors, labor unions, fair contracting organizations, attorneys and various officials from local, state and federal governments around the nation.

This year’s conference will be hosted at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel and Towers. NAFC Chairman Rocco Davis and the rest of NAFC’s Board of Directors are diligently planning content and speakers to ensure this will be our most successful conference to date. 

Register Now

Conn. Contractor Cited by US Labor Department’s OSHA for Wall Collapse, Fall Hazards at Construction Work Site

IRVINE – An Irvine construction company owner and his foreman pleaded not guilty Monday after authorities charged that they committed multiple acts of payroll fraud.
Mustafa Mohamed Bdaiwi, 41, of Irvine and Antonio Naranjo Jr., 40, of Costa Mesa have been charged with 11 counts of taking a portion of a employee’s wages, two felony counts of recording false or forged documents and sentencing enhancements for property loss more than $150,000, according to court records.
Bdaiwi, who owns Malcon Civils Inc., was awarded a contract from the city of Irvine to build a wall at an elementary school in late 2010, prosecutors said. Authorities said around the same time the company was also awarded a project by the city of Hemet.During these two projects, which took place from January to August 2011, Bdaiwi and Naranjo are accused of requiring workers to return a portion of their wages. Naranjo is suspected of threatening to fire the workers who did not comply, prosecutors said.

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Contractor Will Pay Thousands in Back Wages for Auburn Activities Center

Eleven workers underpaid for their effort on an Auburn activity center will share nearly $43,000 in wages owed to them under a settlement between the state and the construction company involved.

The Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I), Attorney General’s Office and RJL Construction LLC reached the agreement on May 8, prior to an administrative hearing. As part of the settlement, RJL is barred from working on future public works projects.

The Kent-based construction firm employed carpenters, iron workers, cement masons and power equipment operators who were wrongly paid at the rate of general laborers. It was concluded that the workers weren’t paid for overtime or the correct “prevailing wage,” the amount under state law the contractor is required to pay for specific work on a public project.

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Paul Johnson Drywall Inc. Agrees to Pay $600,000 in Back Wages, Damages and Penalties Following US Labor Department Investigation

PHOENIX – As a result of a Wage and Hour investigation, Paul Johnson Drywall Inc. severed its relationship with Arizona Tract LLC., a construction labor contractor. Beginning April 2013, Paul Johnson Drywall entered into a contract with Arizona Tract for the provision of drywall labor. Arizona Tract classified former Paul Johnson Drywall workers as “member/owners” instead of employees, which stripped them of basic worker protections afforded to employees.

Today, the U.S. Department of Labor filed a consent judgment in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona by which Prescott-based Paul Johnson Drywall Inc., and its owner Robert Cole Johnson, agreed to take concrete steps to ensure that misclassification of its workforce does not occur again and to pay $556,000 in overtime back wages and liquidated damages to at least 445 current and former employees. The employer also agreed to pay $44,000 in civil monetary penalties.

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HUD Tells Canton to Make Up Prevailing Wage Difference

If you’re a construction worker who helped build Goodwill’s Canton campus in 2009, you may be getting a small check from the city.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is forcing the city of Canton to pay $31,000 in wages to some workers who built Goodwill’s campus at 408 Ninth St. SW.
HUD, in an audit of the city’s federal spending of Community Development Block Grant funds, found that the city never enforced a requirement that construction workers be paid the prevailing wage. The prevailing wage is the hourly wage, plus overtime and benefits, paid to a majority of workers in a particular area. It is set by the U.S. Department of Labor.

OSHA Accepting Susan Harwood Training Grant Applications

OSHA announced it is soliciting applications under the Susan Harwood Training Grant Program, with $7 million available for non-profit organizations, including community-based organizations, faith-based organizations, employer associations, labor unions, management associations, colleges, and universities.

According to OSHA, the program supports the creation of in-person, hands-on training and educational programs and the development of materials for workers and employers in small businesses; industries with high injury, illness, and fatality rates; and workers who are underserved, have limited English proficiency, or are temporary workers. The program awards two types of grants: Targeted Topic Training and Capacity Building. Each grant fund will have approximately $3.5 million in funding.

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Hawaii Raises Minimum Wage to $10.10 Per Hour

HONOLULU (AP) – Hawaii has raised its minimum wage to $10.10 per hour, putting the state among the first to meet President Obama’s goal of increasing the minimum wage nationwide.

 Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed the minimum wage bill into law in a ceremony Friday, marking the first time Hawaii’s minimum wage will be raised from $7.25 since 2007.The increase will be phased in gradually over four years. Abercrombie said he wished the hike was coming quicker, but “we’re swimming in the water that we’re in.”

“I always thought it’s not a minimum wage, it’s a survival wage,” Abercrombie said. “And in today’s world, that minimum wage is not a survival wage, certainly in Hawaii.”

Hawaii is the third state this year to increase its minimum wage to $10.10 per hour, following Connecticut and Maryland, said Jack Temple, policy analyst for the National Employment Law Project.

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