New Study Released on the Impact of Prevailing Wage Repeal in West Virginia

January 28, 2015

The Affiliated Construction Trades Foundation, a division of the West Virginia State Building Trades, has just released a study by Michael Kelsay, Ph.D., University of Missouri- Kansas City, Dept. of Economics, on the adverse economic impact from prevailing wage repeal in the state. Please follow the link below for a full copy of the report.

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ILEPI Releases New Economic Commentary on Impact of Prevailing Wage Law Repeal

January 28, 2015

Recent commentary has just been published by the Illinois Economic Policy Institute.  See below for key findings and a copy of the full report.

Key Findings:

·        Repealing a prevailing wage law will not grow a state’s construction industry

·        Repeal of a state prevailing wage law will further detach worker productivity from worker wages, contributing to the growing problem of income inequality in America.

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Iowa [Legislators] say wage theft bill would curtail fraud

Posted: Wednesday, January 28, 2015 7:57 am

DES MOINES (AP) – A bill introduced in the Senate would curtail wage theft in Iowa by requiring businesses to be more direct with workers about employment terms, Democrats said Tuesday.

Sen. Bill Dotzler, a Democrat from Waterloo, is co-sponsor of a measure that would require employers to share a written record of employment terms with an employee at the start of a job. Such an agreement would help the worker if there’s suspicion of wage theft in the future and the worker needs to file a formal complaint, Dotzler said.

“This legislation is common sense,” Dotzler said.

The bill would also define penalty terms and expand protection for whistleblowers. It’s identical to a bill that was introduced last session, according to Dotzler. That bill didn’t get very far, but he said he is hopeful a new legislature would seriously consider the latest measure.

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West Virginia’s Prevailing Wage: Good for Business, Good for Workers

January 28, 2015 by Sean O’Leary

Construction workers hired for public projects in West Virginia must be paid a minimum “prevailing” wage and benefits level. This prevailing wage level must equal the market wage rates as determined by the West Virginia Division of Labor, and varies by geographical area within the state and by occupation.1 West Virginia’s prevailing wage law was first enacted in 1933, two years after the federal Davis-Bacon Act, which established a prevailing wage for federal construction projects. Read PDF of report.

Thirty-two states, including West Virginia, have prevailing wage laws for state-funded construction projects, while there is also a federal prevailing wage law for federally funded construction projects.2 These prevailing wage laws help ensure that government-funded construction projects are done with highly skilled workers from the community, increasing productivity and strengthening the economy with good-paying local jobs.

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Editorial: State right to address wage theft

By Jeff Stahla 
POSTED:   01/24/2015 11:42:50 PM MST

 

When the Wage Protection Act went into effect Jan. 1 of this year, it gave the state of Colorado additional tools and authority to address the problem of wage theft.

The act requires employers to keep payroll records for up to three years and gives the Colorado Department of Labor the authority “to mediate situations that are just misunderstandings, investigate when there’s actual wrongdoing, and bring justice,” Rep. Jonathan Singer, a co-sponsor of the act, told the Associated Press.

That includes possible fines against employers who fail to respond to complaints and who are found to have illegally withheld wages from employees who earned them.

The number of state employees involved in investigations is increasing from four to nine, as part of the new law.

The need is clear. The state department of labor has been receiving an average of 5,000 complaints per year, and it has recovered about $1 million in unpaid wages to date, according to a recent I-News report.

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Texas House Panel finds that worker misclassification “compromises free markets” and promotes “lawlessness”

By Scott Braddock
January 23, 2015

 

A report from a bipartisan panel of Texas lawmakers says companies that pretend their employees are independent subcontractors are undermining free markets and encouraging illegal immigration, among other serious problems. The practice of worker misclassification happens when an employer intentionally skirts the law by paying workers as independent subcontractors when they meet the legal definition of employees and should be paid as such.

Preventing workers from being paid as employees denies them basic protections and costs taxpayers millions each year because employers are avoiding payroll taxes on that labor. Employers who follow the law are investing in a sustainable workforce, which is undermined by worker misclassification. Many of those ethical employers have urged lawmakers to do more to contain what they’ve called “a cancer” in the heart of the construction industry.

So, the Texas House Business and Industry Committee this past year took an in-depth look at the issue, including testimony from construction industry leaders, labor advocates and others who are united in combating misclassification.

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D.C.’s New Wage Theft Law Imposes Additional Notice, Posting and Recordkeeping Requirements on Employers

Friday, January 23, 2015

Last October, we reported on D.C.’s soon-to-be-enacted D.C. Wage Theft Prevention Amendment Act. This Act, which amends several existing D.C. wage and hour laws, includes new notice requirements and retaliation protections, increases employer liability for wage and hour violations and introduces a new administrative hearing process – all changes that employers with D.C.-based employees need to be aware of.

The Act becomes effective on February 26, 2015.  Previously, the Act was slated to go into effect on January 14, 2015, but an emergency amendment pushed back that date.  There is a chance it is pushed back again and we will update this post accordingly if that happens.  An overview of the key provisions follows below.

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US Labor Department and Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development sign agreement to reduce misclassification of employees

WHD NEWS Brief: 1/20/2015 
Release Number: 15-0062-NAT

Description: Officials from the U.S. Department of Labor and the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development signed a memorandum of understanding with the goal of protecting the rights of employees by preventing their misclassification as independent contractors or other nonemployee statuses. Under the agreement both agencies will share information and coordinate law enforcement.

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(Copy of MOU)

Analysis Finds Rampant Wage Theft Across Colorado

Monday, January 19, 2015
By Rocky Mountain PBS I-News & Anna Boiko-Weyrauch

From telemarketers to tortilla manufacturers, workers in myriad industries have suffered from employers failing to pay them wages they are owed, a Rocky Mountain PBS I-News investigation has found.

While blue-collar workers are most frequently cheated, workers across pay-scales in Colorado are vulnerable to wage theft – a term for employers illegally withholding wages – an analysis of federal enforcement data shows.

Since 2005, the federal Department of Labor has recovered more than $31 million in wages that had been illegally withheld by employers in Colorado in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Across the U.S. the amount of illegally withheld wages was more than $1.4 billion for the same period.

Under the Colorado Wage Claim Act, employers who cheat workers out of wages can face a misdemeanor charge, $300 fine and 30 days in a county jail – penalties the General Assembly put in place in 1941 that have not changed since.

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Labor and Employment Federal Regulatory Reporting and Other Requirements in the First Quarter of 2015

1/14/2015 by Robert Lian, Brian Glenn Patterson

 

There are several important dates that employers should keep in mind during the first quarter of 2015. While some are long-standing requirements, others are the product of recent regulatory action by the Obama administration.  Key dates appear below.
Effective January 1, 2015
Occupational Safety and Health Administration/U.S. Department of Labor Expansion of injury and illness reporting requirement

 

Historically, employers have been required to report to OSHA within eight hours any occupational fatalities and occupational injuries and illnesses resulting in the hospitalization of three or more employees. OSHA’s updated recordkeeping and reporting rule expands the list of injuries that employers must report to OSHA.  As of January 1, 2015, all employers must report the following:

Within 8 hours:

All work-related fatalities; and

Within 24 hours:

All work-related inpatient hospitalizations to any employee (no longer limited to three employee hospitalizations);

All work-related amputations; and

All work-related losses of an eye.

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