DU Launches Study on How Wage Theft Occurs in Construction Industry

By: Anna Boiko-Weyrauch

March 4, 2015


A new study seeks to collect detailed information about how wage theft occurs in the construction industry in Colorado. The project, organized by the University of Denver will also extend legal services to research participants who have not received the wages they are owed.

DU students and law professor Raja Raghunath have already been answering legal questions at informal, street-side gatherings in Denver and Aurora where day-laborers assemble to find work.

Researchers expect to interview approximately 75 day-laborers by the time the project is completed next June, University of Denver anthropologist Rebecca Galemba said.

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State seeks cheating employers


March 3, 2015



ATLANTA — An untold number of Georgians are working when and where their bosses say, but instead of getting the benefits of employees, they are classified as contractors.

Some say that hurts the employee, the government and law-abiding companies. Now, the state Legislature is starting to listen.

State Rep. Ronnie Mabra, D-Fayetteville, is an attorney who said his law firm hires employees but also works with contractors. He told a House of Representatives panel that he respects the difference, but other employers are known to cheat and put workers in the wrong category.

“We have the issue where employers are misclassifying employees and independent contractors,” Mabra said Tuesday.

What that means is some employers set tight rules on the people who work for them but cut their own payroll tax bills by hiring the workers as contractors instead of as employees.

Misclassification is “pretty widespread,” said Ted Terry, state campaign director at the Georgia AFL-CIO. Some cable installers, construction workers, stagehands and even security guards at strip clubs are frequently used as employees but classified as contractors, Terry said

Loretto Man Gets 22 Months For Lying About Employee Wages

March 3, 2015 3:26 PM



MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A 52-year-old Loretto man was sentenced Tuesday in U.S. District Court to nearly two years federal prison for lying about employee wages for a company that assisted with state highway and road construction projects.

Jeffery John Plzak was ordered to serve 22 months in prison, pay $240,000 in restitution along with a fine and will be on one year of supervised release after serving his term. He pleaded guilty to one count of false statements on July 8, 2014.

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Drywall contractor owes ‘tapers’ more than $98K in back wages

PR Drywall of Hillsboro, Oregon, underpays 7 workers in wages and overtime

U.S. Department of Labor              Wage and Hour Division

Release Number: 15-136-SAN       Date: March 3, 2015

PORTLAND, Ore. — Seven “tapers” working for PR Drywall LLC of Hillsboro will receive more than $98,000 in back wages after a U.S. Department of Labor investigation found their employer failed to pay prevailing wages and overtime payments as they worked constructing the Tualatin Marquis Assisted Living Center. Built with federal financing assistance from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the project and its contractors were subject to the Davis-Bacon and Related Acts and the Fair Labor Standards Act.

The department’s Wage and Hour Division investigated PR Drywall, a subcontractor on the Tualatin project. The agency determined that the tapers, also called drywall finishers, who prepare and press wet compound into joints, nail or screw holes in the drywall and then cover the wet material with tape, were paid below the prevailing wage rates required by the DBRA. The employees also worked beyond 40 hours in a workweek without being paid time and one-half, as required by law.

PR Drywall was found liable for $89,525 under the DBRA for prevailing wage violations, and $8,557 under the FLSA for overtime violations.

Study Perfectly Illustrates Why Arguments Against Prevailing Wage are Illogical and Absurd

March 2015 – As in many states across the country, there is a vigorous debate underway right now in our neighboring state of Nevada over whether construction workers on public projects deserve to be paid the wage that prevails and is paid to the vast majority of construction workers in a state, whether it be on private or public projects (the prevailing wage).

As in those other states, Nevada Democrats are fighting to protect workers’ wages, while Republicans are crusading to slash them. These Republicans, who ran as “middle of the road” Republicans, wooed and appealed to the values of union working people, who failed to recognize them for the threat they were. These Republican politicians won the votes of too many unionized workers, including Building Trades workers, and took over Nevada’s government.

But they were wolves in sheep’s clothing, and once in power, reverted to their true nature, taking a terrible toll on the working families that helped elect them.

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(PDF Copy of Study)

Iowa Senate OKs bills on minimum wage, wage theft

POSTED: TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 24, 2015 5:13 PM | UPDATED: 5:13 PM, TUE FEB 24, 2015.



DES MOINES (AP) – The Iowa Senate voted Tuesday to raise the state’s minimum wage and try to curtail cases of wage theft.

By a 27-22 vote, the Senate approved increasing the minimum wage level to $8.75.

Sen. Tony Bisignano, D-Des Moines, said a minimum wage increase would help Iowa’s workforce.

“We are trying to build a high wage, high skill economy. We don’t want to become a regional haven for low wage employers,” he said in prepared remarks.

Senators also voted 26-23 to establish more rules to avoid alleged wage theft by employers.

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Court of Appeal Rules: Company Can Sue Competitors for Failure to Pay Prevailing Wages


Monday, February 23, 2015


Building companies can sue a competitor whose violations of the prevailing wage law allegedly enabled it to submit lower bids and thereby gain contracts that would otherwise have gone to the plaintiffs, this district’s Court of Appeal ruled Friday.

Div. Eight, in a 2-1 decision, overturned a Riverside Superior Court judge’s ruling dismissing the suit by Roy Allan Slurry Seal, Inc. and Doug Martin Contracting, Inc. against American Asphalt South, Inc. The suit is one of five that the plaintiffs have filed, claiming that American Asphalt interfered with prospective economic advantage by unfairly underbidding on 23 contracts with Riverside County and with 16 cities in that county and Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Orange and San Diego counties.

The complaints also included claims for predatory pricing under the Unfair Practices Act, and sought injunctive relief under the Unfair Competition Law, but the appeals court Friday said those claims were correctly dismissed.

The successful bids on the contracts totaled $14.6 million. The plaintiffs claimed that if the difference between the wages required by Labor Code §§1770 and 1771, and those actually paid by the defendant, were added to the defendant’s bids, each of the contracts would have gone to one of the plaintiffs, rather than to the defendant.

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California Department of Industrial Relations and Labor Commissioner Champion “Wage Theft Is A Crime” Campaign

Wednesday, February 18, 2015


Last year the California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) and the Department of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) initiated a campaign, entitled “Wage Theft is a Crime,” to educate California workers about the complexities of California’s wage laws. DIR Director Christine Baker stated that the “department’s mission is to protect California’s workers with comprehensive labor laws and enforcement focused on businesses that intentionally skirt the law.” The department’s recent effort is the “Wage Theft is a Crime” campaign which encourages workers, especially those in low-wage industries, to report possible labor code violations within the workplace. In support of this program, educational materials have been distributed through local events, mailings, and digital and print media in English, Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Hmong and Tagalog.

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What is a “Public Work” Under California Law?

Monday, February 16, 2015

by Richard E. Donahoo



Often workers are unsure whether the California project where they are working is a “public work” that requires their employer to pay them a minimum “prevailing wage” rate set by the State of California.

California Labor Code section 1720 defines a public work as:

“Construction, alteration, demolition, installation, or repair work done under contract and paid for in whole or in part out of public funds . . . For purposes of this paragraph, “construction” includes work performed during the design and preconstruction phases of construction, including, but not limited to, inspection and land surveying work. For purposes of this paragraph, “installation” includes, but is not limited to, the assembly and disassembly of freestanding and affixed modular office systems.”

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Minnesota unions want tougher laws against so-called wage theft

Minnesota’s leading labor unions are pushing for stiffer penalties against employers caught improperly withholding worker pay or skirting overtime requirements.


Posted Feb. 12, 2015 at 9:00 PM
By Associated Press      St Paul, Minn. 

Minnesota’s leading labor unions are pushing for stiffer penalties against employers caught improperly withholding worker pay or skirting overtime requirements.

The Minnesota AFL-CIO and some union partners outlined an array of law changes Wednesday that they say would give employees more recourse. Advocates say the proposal being introduced soon at the Capitol would increase penalties on employers found to have violated pay laws and enable affected employees to recoup three times their lost wages.

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