Proposed Fix to Get Business Owners to Pay Unpaid Wages (FL)

By Myriam Masihy
Updated at 8:50 PM EST on Jan 24, 2017

A proposed ordinance could help strengthen Miami-Dade County’s existing wage theft ordinance.

Commissioner Pepe Diaz introduced the plan that would add attorney fees to the amount a business owes an employee who takes them to court over unpaid wages.

“They can try to ignore it but it’s going to be a lot harder,” Diaz said.

The county has a wage theft ordinance that allows a worker to take a former employer to a hearing over unpaid money. A hearing officer can rule that a business owner has to pay. But the NBC 6 Investigators found business owners still not paying workers even after the deadline passes.

The new plan would require a business to pay attorney fees and costs that a worker takes on trying to get the money. An attorney is not required in the initial hearing portion of a wage theft hearing but could be needed to pursue a business that doesn’t pay.

“We’re going to continue to do things so hopefully, hopefully this will be a thing of the past in Miami-Dade County,” Diaz said.

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Allegations Of Unpaid Wages And Benefits Hit Asbestos Cleanup Firms (MA)

January 18, 2017
By Beth Daley, The Eye

Federal prosecutors are investigating an asbestos-removal company active in the Boston area to see whether the firm withheld wages and benefits from workers, according to people familiar with the matter.

The case is part of widening U.S. Justice Department activity and private civil action targeting asbestos-removal and demolition contractors for alleged worker mistreatment amid a construction and renovation boom in Massachusetts.

Registered asbestos-abatement jobs in the state totaled 25,660 in 2016, up 64 percent in five years, as construction materials in many older buildings being torn apart for renovation often contain the carcinogenic mineral.

Within the last two years, two criminal cases and three civil lawsuits have been brought in U.S. District Court in Boston alleging companies are cheating asbestos-removal or demolition workers on wage and benefits payments. In one of the cases, the owner of an asbestos-abatement firm pleaded guilty to federal charges after prosecutors alleged he paid workers in cash to avoid employment taxes and payments he owed to union benefit funds

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Gary Wetzel: Repealing Wisconsin’s prevailing wage law would hurt veterans

February 21, 2017

 

SOUTH MILWAUKEE – I am a proud military veteran, Medal of Honor recipient, American Legion member and retired operating engineer. Though retired, I am an active advocate for veterans, their medical care, job opportunities and family sustaining wages.

Specifically, I am concerned about a repeal of Wisconsin’s prevailing wage law and the negative impact it would have on veterans.

This is not a union versus non-union issue. All workers in the construction industry benefit from prevailing wage laws. Prevailing wage laws simply ensure workers building our vital infrastructure receive a fair wage. If you cut construction worker wages by repealing prevailing wage laws – which everyone agrees will happen if prevailing wage laws are eliminated – veterans will be harder hit because veterans are more likely to work in the construction industry.

We are veterans who want our voices heard and have a deep desire to continue proudly serving this great state and country by building safer roads, schools and communities for our families. Let us send a loud message to our legislative leaders – protect job opportunities and wages for our veterans.

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Lawmakers put prevailing wage in crosshairs; laborers object (MO)

Sunday, February 12, 2017
By Mark Bliss ~ Southeast Missourian

 

Missouri’s prevailing wage law may not prevail much longer.

The Republican-dominated Legislature has set its sights on repealing or revising the state law.

A pocketbook issue

Rick McGuire, business manager for Laborers Union Local 1140 in Cape Girardeau, said repealing the prevailing-wage law would leave workers with less income.
“We have members who make a living doing prevailing-wage construction work,” he said.
In the construction trades, “you don’t work every day,” he said.

McGuire said labor unions provide skills training for their members and health insurance. A portion of the hourly wages for a union worker goes to fund training, health insurance and a pension, he said.

The prevailing wage benefits union and nonunion workers, as both are paid the same rate on a public-works project, he said.

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Cleveland-area contractor sentenced to prison for paying workers criminally low wages (OH)

By Eric Heisigon January 17, 2017 at 2:54 PM, updated January 17, 2017 at 5:47 PM

CLEVELAND, Ohio — A Cleveland-area contractor who paid his employees criminally low wages while working on projects for the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority was sentenced Tuesday to 21 months in federal prison.

Marcus Butler, who operated of L & B Electric of Northeast Ohio, lied on forms between 2011 and 2013 and said he paid his employees $126,514.80 more than he actually had when doing subcontracting work at three CMHA properties.

The work was part of a federally-funded project, as the CMHA receives money from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Under federal law, employers working on federal projects are supposed to pay their workers a certain rate, known as a “prevailing wage.”

Butler, 32, of Bedford was indicted in 2015. He pleaded guilty in September to 61 counts of making false statements.

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Haverhill contractor settles allegations of overbilling MBTA, prevailing wage violations (MA)

Staff Reports
Feb 25, 2017

BOSTON – A New Hampshire-based general contractor with ties to Haverhill and one of its subcontractors have agreed to pay more than $420,000 for submitting false and inflated payment requests in connection with their construction of the Assembly Square Station on the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s (MBTA) Orange Line in Somerville, Attorney General Maura Healey announced Friday.

S&R Construction Enterprises, its president Stephen Early of Haverhill, subcontractor A&S Electrical and its manager Gregory Lane agreed to resolve allegations they violated the Massachusetts False Claims Act by knowingly submitting false and inflated pay estimates to improperly front load payments under their contracts. In addition, S&R Construction, based in Newton, New Hampshire, and A&S Electrical are barred from bidding on and accepting new public contracts in Massachusetts for five years and one year, respectively.

“Building new public transportation infrastructure is how we will move Massachusetts forward, and taxpayers deserve confidence in how we spend every dollar,” Healey said. “Overbilling and front-loading creates unacceptable risks of delays and degrades the integrity of our public contracting. Taking on this fraud is a top priority.”

“We are very pleased with this result, and thank the AG’s office for its excellent work in pursuing these claims,” said MassDOT/MBTA General Counsel John Englander.

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OSHA finalizes beryllium exposure rule

Kim Slowey
Jan. 9, 2017

 

Dive Brief:

  • The Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced Friday that it has finalized its new beryllium exposure rule.
  • In this latest regulation, OSHA has further limited contact with beryllium’s cancer-causing dust from 2.0 micrograms per cubic meter of air over an eight-hour period – a standard established in 1949 – to 0.2 micrograms per cubic meter. The new rule also requires protective measures and equipment, as well as changing rooms and showers for at-risk employees.
  • OSHA included the construction and shipyard industries in its final rule after excluding them from its initial proposal in 2015, according to The Hill.

 

Dive Insight:

Employers have been given three years to put into operation all of the protective aspects of the regulation. They have one year to bring exposure limits within the new boundaries, two years to furnish changing rooms and showers and three years to enact engineering controls. OSHA said compliance will cost employers approximately $74 million a year but that medical and death-related expenses will drop more than $560 million a year. OSHA estimated that the new limits will protect approximately 62,000 workers, preventing 46 new cases of beryllium-related disease and 94 associated deaths each year.

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Comptroller Stringer Debars Contractor that Cheated Immigrant Workers out of $1.7 million in Prevailing Wages and Benefits

K.S. Contracting Corporation employed a kickback scheme that preyed on at least 36 immigrant workers

 

Newsroom / Press Releases & Statements
FEBRUARY 13, 2017

(New York, NY) – New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer today assessed $3.2 million in fines against K.S. Contracting Corporation and its owner, Paresh Shah, for cheating dozens of workers out of the prevailing wages and benefits they were owed under the New York State Labor Law. In addition to being assessed $3.2 million in unpaid wages, interest, and civil penalties, K.S Contracting and Mr. Shah will be barred from working on New York City and State contracts for five years. K.S. Contracting was named as one of the worst wage theft violators in New York in a report by the Center for Popular Democracy in 2015.

“With President Trump taking clear aim at immigrants across the country, we need to stand up and protect the foreign-born New Yorkers who keep our City running. Every New Yorker has rights, and my office won’t back down in defending them,” New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer said. “Contractors might think they can take advantage of immigrants, but today we’re sending a strong message: my office will fight for every worker in New York City. This is about basic fairness and accountability.”

K.S. Contracting was awarded more than $21 million in contracts by the City Departments of Design and Construction, Parks and Recreation, and Sanitation between 2007 and 2010. Projects included the Morrisania Health Center in the Bronx, the 122 Community Center in Manhattan, the Barbara S. Kleinman Men’s Residence in Brooklyn, the North Infirmary Command Building on Rikers Island, Bronx River Park, the District 15 Sanitation Garage in Brooklyn, and various City sidewalks in Queens.

The Comptroller’s Office began investigating the company after an employee filed a complaint with the office in May 2010. The multi-year investigation used subpoenas, video evidence, union records, and City agency data to uncover a kickback scheme that preyed on immigrant workers.

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