AISD Adopts Davis-Bacon Prevailing Wage Schedule, Plans to Conduct Living Wage Floor Study

In a split vote at its June 16 meeting, Austin ISD’s board of trustees adopted the federal Davis-Bacon prevailing wage schedule as the schedule AISD uses to pay construction workers, and the board pledged to conduct an additional study to determine a living wage for workers.
Pipe fitters, laborers and representatives from Austin Interfaith and AISD employees union Education Austin urged the board to adopt Davis-Bacon and stop using what they called an outdated wage rate schedule, while others called Davis-Bacon “flawed” and asked the board to postpone the vote.

Kayvon Sabourian, an attorney with the Austin nonprofit Equal Justice Center, has said the state allows school districts two options-adopting federal wage rates or conducting a wage rates study. The board in January approved a consent agenda item to put its own study in place, and AISD currently uses wage rates based on a study conducted in 2005, he said.

Sabourian told the board he has represented construction workers whose prevailing wage rates have been violated on AISD projects.

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Report: CT Healthcare Construction Most Active in New England

Hospitals and other healthcare providers are spending more money on major Connecticut construction projects than in any other New England state, according to a study by Revista.
Ongoing and upcoming hospital and medical office building construction projects this year have a total construction value of $1.76 billion, the Maryland-based healthcare construction data provider said.

That’s ahead of Massachusetts’ $1.15 billion worth of ongoing and upcoming projects, as well as Maine’s $337 million and New Hampshire’s $124 million, Revista said.

Leading the way in Connecticut is the $450 million replacement of Stamford Hospital, which broke ground last year. Next up is UConn Health Center’s patient tower and $203 million outpatient pavilion, and John Dempsey Hospital’s $163 million expansion – all in Farmington.

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Seattle Approves $15 Minimum Wage, Setting a New Standard for Big Cities

SEATTLE – The City Council here went where no big-city lawmakers have gone before on Monday, raising the local minimum wage to $15 an hour, more than double the federal minimum, and pushing Seattle to the forefront of urban efforts to address income inequality.
The unanimous vote of the nine-member Council, after months of discussion by a committee of business and labor leaders convened by Mayor Ed Murray, will give low-wage workers here – in incremental stages, with different tracks for different sizes of business – the highest big-city minimum in the nation.

“Even before the Great Recession a lot of us have started to have doubt and concern about the basic economic promise that underpins economic life in the United States,” said Sally J. Clark, a Council member. “Today Seattle answers that challenge,” she added. “We go into uncharted, unevaluated territory.”

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US Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez Announces Proposed Rule to Raise the Minimum Wage for Federal Contract Workers

WASHINGTON – Fulfilling President Obama’s commitment to make 2014 a year of action to strengthen the economy and grow the middle class, U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez today announced a proposed rule raising the minimum wage for workers on federal service and construction contracts to $10.10 per hour. The proposed rule implements Executive Order 13658, which was announced by the president on Feb. 12.

“A core American value is that hard work should be rewarded with fair pay. And as the president said in his State of the Union address, if you cook our troops’ meals or wash their dishes, you shouldn’t have to live in poverty,” said Secretary Perez. “Raising the minimum wage for workers on federal contracts will provide a much needed boost to many who are working hard, but still struggle to get by, and it will also benefit taxpayers with improved employee retention and productivity. Today the department took an important step toward making the promise of the executive order a reality for thousands of workers.”

“In America, nobody who works full time should have to raise their family in poverty,” said White House Domestic Policy Director Cecilia Muñoz. “President Obama is leading by example, raising the minimum wage for federal contract workers, and governors, mayors and businesses around the country are answering the call to join him. Now it’s time for Congress to finish the job and raise the wage for everyone.”

US Department of Labor’s OSHA Cites Duce Construction for Failing to Protect Employees from Trench Dangers

SAVOY, Ill. – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Duce Construction Co. with four safety violations, including three serious and one willful, for failing to protect workers from trenching hazards at a job site on East Airport Road in Savoy. OSHA opened the February 2014 inspection under theNational Emphasis Program for trenching and excavation. Proposed penalties total $59,500.

“It is unacceptable for Duce Construction to allow workers into an unprotected trench. Each year, trench collapses result in numerous deaths and serious injuries,” said Thomas Bielema, OSHA’s area director in Peoria. “Employers that specialize in this type of work must take all necessary precautions to ensure their employees have safe working conditions.”

There were two trench boxes used in the excavation. Workers were exposed to soil avalanching and cave-in hazards because the company failed to ensure that the boxes were used correctly. A willful violation was cited for failing to ensure workers were protected from these hazards. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.

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State Suspends Concrete Contractor After Price-Fixing Plea

A concrete contractor convicted of fixing prices for ready-mix concrete in Iowa can no longer receive contracts from the Minnesota Department of Transportation.
This month’s MnDOT suspension order for GCC Alliance Concrete grew out of a federal probe that revealed four concrete makers in Iowa conspired for three years to fix prices and rig bids for contracts. The investigation sent at least two executives to prison, including former GCC sales manager, Steven VandeBrake, who is close to finishing a 48-month sentence.

Under state law, Minnesota has to cut ties with contractors convicted of crimes. The company itself was charged criminally (yes, that can happen) and pleaded guilty in 2011 to violating anti-trust laws. Its punishment: 18 months probation, as well as $100,000 in free concrete for the paving and masonry needs of local non-profit organizations.

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Nearly $5M in Back Wages for Approximately 500 Workers at Federally-Assisted Project in New York Secured by US Labor Department

NEW YORK – MDG Design & Construction LLC has reached a settlement with the U.S. Department of Labor that resolves wage violations at the federally-assisted Grand Street Guild construction project in New York City’s Lower East Side. MDG and other respondents will pay $3.8 million in back wages and fringe benefits to about 200 of MDG’s subcontractors’ construction workers. Previous, separate investigations led to the repayment of more than $1.1 million in back wages to approximately 300 laborers and mechanics who worked for MDG’s subcontractors on the Lower East Side project.

MDG was the general contractor for the Grand Street Guild project, which involved the refurbishment and rehabilitation of three 26-story apartment towers. The department’s Wage and Hour Division found numerous Davis-Bacon and Related Acts violations by MDG subcontractors on the project, including failure to pay required prevailing wages and submitting inaccurate or falsified payroll records to the government.

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New York’s De Blasio Seeks to Drop Wage Law Challenge

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio is seeking to drop his predecessor’s challenge to a law requiring landlords and companies getting economic aid from the city to pay workers the same wages as employees of its contractors.

The city asked state Supreme Court Justice Geoffrey D. Wright in court papers today to void his ruling from August of last year invalidating the prevailing wage measure, saying the court failed to recognize the city’s authority to incorporate wage standards into its commercial transactions.

The city council passed the bill 44-4 in May 2012 over former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s veto. Bloomberg sued the council two months later, saying the requirement would increase costs and was pre-empted by the state’s minimum-wage law.

The law requires any company receiving at least $1 million in economic development aid from the city to pay its workers the prevailing wage — the rate set by law for each trade or occupation for employees of contractors who do public works projects and building service work for government agencies.

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In Support of Prevailing Wages

As Mayor and Vice Mayor of Vacaville, we have unique knowledge of the impact of public construction projects both on taxpayers, and our local economy. Taxpayers expect our public works to be done right, and cost effectively. And our community benefits when these projects employ local workers at decent wages.

That’s why last year we passed a resolution in support of SB7 – a new state law that encourages more cities to pay prevailing wage on public construction projects.

And it’s why today, we are disappointed to see some California cities filing suit to block this law.

Research clearly demonstrates that prevailing wage projects don’t cost any more than those built by low wage, less skilled workers. In fact, prevailing wage projects often save taxpayer dollars as a result of the projects having fewer change orders, fewer delays, and fewer accidents.

The reason is simple: Prevailing wage projects are built by the best trained workers available. Prevailing wage workers tend to be higher skilled because these projects help fund training programs that not only ensure that we get top quality completed project, but that we have a well trained workforce in the future to support our growing infrastructure needs.

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