19th Annual NAFC Conference – Nashville, TN, Sept. 25 – 26, 2017

Available reservations are filling up quickly, get your registration form and hotel accommodations in today!

NAFC will be holding its next Annual Conference in 2017 in Music City U.S.A., Nashville, Tennessee. The Conference will be held at the Sheraton Nashville Downtown Hotel, in the heart of the city. NAFC’s National Conference is attended by several hundred participants from across the nation, including representatives from labor organizations, fair contractors, fair contracting compliance organizations as well as researchers, academics, attorneys and officials from federal, state and local governments. Stay tuned for further details and registration information coming in early 2017.

(View NAFC Conference Page)

Workers building high-end apartments in Worcester claim wage theft and payroll fraud

By Melissa Hanson
on April 25, 2017

 

Five local carpenters who were working on a mixed-use building that includes high-end apartments in downtown Worcester are claiming that they were victims of wage theft and payroll fraud.

The carpenters, who were employed by P&B Partitions, a contractor based in West Berlin, New Jersey, say they were victims of wage and hour violations. Three of the carpenters have filed wage complaints with the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office, according to a statement from the New England Regional Council of Carpenters.

According to the wage complaints, P&B did not pay the carpenters for all hours worked and frequently paid the workers for overtime hours in cash and at less than the rate required by state law.

Dave Minasian, a spokesman for the New England Regional Council of Carpenters, said the amount of money the workers claim they were bilked of is not being released at this time.

P&B said they did not have anyone immediately available to comment on the complaint. Minasian said P&B has not responded to his organization.

The Worcester Carpenters Union is assisting the workers in recovering the allegedly lost wages.

(Read More)

GOVERNOR SIGNS AG BILL BLOCKING WAGE CHEATS FROM RECEIVING GOVERNMENT CONTRACTS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
May 8 2017

OLYMPIA – The governor today signed into law Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s bipartisan legislation prohibiting businesses that have willfully violated state wage theft laws from being awarded government contracts.

Senate Bill 5301 bars companies from receiving both state and local contracts if a judge determines they willfully violated state wage theft laws. The measure, sponsored by Sen. Mark Miloscia, R-Auburn, passed the Senate overwhelmingly in February by 46-3 vote. It passed the House by a 63-33 margin in April. The companion measure, House Bill 1936, was sponsored by Rep. Zack Hudgins, D-Tukwila.

“We need to send a message that the state will not do business with those who cheat hard-working Washingtonians,” Ferguson said. “Government contracts – and taxpayer dollars – should only go to companies that play by the rules.”

The Washington state government spends more than $1 billion annually to buy goods and services – and the state spends billions more on public works contracts – but currently, companies that receive contracts from state and local governments are not always required to demonstrate compliance with wage laws.

“The state should not be supporting businesses that are taking hard-earned dollars from the state’s workers,” said Sen. Miloscia, chair of the Senate State Government Committee. “This change will affirm the state’s commitment to protecting workers and reward businesses who respect the law and take care of their employees.”

“We must stand up in Olympia and say, ‘You will not profit from cheating workers,’ ” Rep. Hudgins said. “This simple change will provide an important incentive for companies to follow the law.”

(Read More)

Construction workers walk off Omni Louisville site protesting wage discrepancy

By CAITLIN BOWLING
May 24, 2017 12:53 pm

 

Some of the construction workers who are helping erect the more than $320 million Omni Louisville hotel and luxury apartments walked off the site this morning.

Roughly 100 workers who have been installing metal studs and hanging drywall at the Omni claim that they are being paid roughly $20 less an hour compared with other construction workers on the job, WDRB News first reported.

Marco Cruz, one of the workers who walked off the construction site, told Insider that he is not so much upset that they are making less than other workers as he is troubled by the fact that they were told they’d earn $24 an hour but are only receiving $17 to $20 an hour.

“I saw that that’s not right,” he said. “We feel like they are taking advantage of us.”

Louisville labor attorney Dave Suetholz told Insider in a phone interview that the construction workers, most of whom are Hispanic immigrants, were told that their wages were lowered because Gov. Matt Bevin repealed Kentucky’s prevailing wage statute this year.

Suetholz, an attorney with Kircher, Suetholz & Associates PSC, argued that construction on the Omni “started before the repeal of the prevailing wage,” making the argument invalid.

“Their employer has lied to them,” he said. “It’s all immigrant workers. They are the only ones being paid lower rates. …Just on the face, it looks very bad.”

The prevailing wage law required construction workers to be paid a wage and receive benefits comparable to what workers receive on average construction sites in the area. It applied to public construction projects, according to an article by Stites & Harbison attorney Joseph L. Hardesty.

(Read More)

U.S. Economy, contractors, and American workers benefit from PLAs

BY SEAN MCGARVEY, OPINION CONTRIBUTOR
04/24/17 04:30 PM EDT

 

Chuck Goodrich, the Chair of Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC), recently slammed Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) for not, as he proclaimed, creating “equal opportunity for the entire construction industry.”

Oh, the irony.

Because at the heart of all PLAs is the concept of “opportunity” – for workers, contractors, businesses, whole communities and, yes, taxpayers.
This theme of “opportunity” was central when nearly 3,000 members of North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU) just convened in our nation’s capital to discuss topline policy priorities, including – and especially – the rebuilding of America’s crumbling infrastructure and the need to ensure strong community wage and benefit standards for hard-working Americans

Today, NABTU and its signatory contractors invest more than $1.2 billion annually to fund and operate over 1,600 joint labor-management training centers across the U.S. which, in turn, produce the safest, most highly-skilled, and productive craft workers found anywhere in the world.

Further, NABTU leads the construction industry in innovative workforce development by providing increased opportunities to underserved communities and diversifying the construction workforce through the use of apprenticeship readiness programs and formal apprenticeship training and education.

(Read More)

Employers steal billions from workers’ paychecks each year

Survey data show millions of workers are paid less than the minimum wage, at significant cost to taxpayers and state economies
Report – By David Cooper and Teresa Kroeger
May 10, 2017

What this report finds: This report assesses the prevalence and magnitude of one form of wage theft-minimum wage violations (workers being paid at an effective hourly rate below the binding minimum wage)-in the 10 most populous U.S. states. We find that, in these states, 2.4 million workers lose $8 billion annually (an average of $3,300 per year for year-round workers) to minimum wage violations-nearly a quarter of their earned wages. This form of wage theft affects 17 percent of low-wage workers, with workers in all demographic categories being cheated out of pay.

Why it matters: Minimum wage violations, by definition, affect the lowest-wage workers-those who can least afford to lose earnings. This form of wage theft causes many families to fall below the poverty line, and it increases workers’ reliance on public assistance, costing taxpayers money. Lost wages can hurt state and local economies, and it hurts other workers in affected industries by putting downward pressure on wages.

What can be done about it: Strengthen states’ legal protections against wage theft, increase penalties for violators, bolster enforcement capacities, and protect workers from retaliation when violations are reported.

Introduction and key findings
For the past four decades, the majority of American workers have been shortchanged by economic policymaking that has suppressed the growth of hourly wages and prevented greater improvements in living standards. Achieving a secure, middle-class lifestyle has become increasingly difficult as hourly pay for most workers has either stagnated or declined. For millions of the country’s lowest-paid workers, financial security is even more fleeting because of unscrupulous employers stealing a portion of their paychecks.

Wage theft, the practice of employers failing to pay workers the full wages to which they are legally entitled, is a widespread and deep-rooted problem that directly harms millions of U.S. workers each year. Employers refusing to pay promised wages, paying less than legally mandated minimums, failing to pay for all hours worked, or not paying overtime premiums deprives working people of billions of dollars annually. It also leaves hundreds of thousands of affected workers and their families in poverty. Wage theft does not just harm the workers and families who directly suffer exploitation; it also weakens the bargaining power of workers more broadly by putting downward pressure on hourly wages in affected industries and occupations. For many low-income families who suffer wage theft, the resulting loss of income forces them to rely more heavily on public assistance programs, unduly straining safety net programs and hamstringing efforts to reduce poverty.

(Read More)

Contractors worry repeal of prevailing wage would decimate industry

May 7th, 2017
by Philip Joens

Currently, workers on public projects are required to be paid a minimum wage set by the state. Created in 1959, the law is similar to the Federal 1931 Davis-Bacon Act, which requires workers be paid minimum wages on federal construction projects.

If approved, House Bill 104 will repeal the state law while still mandating contractors pay workers at least federal or state minimum wage, whichever is higher. If they choose to, contractors may still pay employees more than that amount. It would take effect Aug. 28. Thirty-one states have prevailing wage laws. Some, like Arkansas, Kentucky and Tennessee, have a minimum amount that must be spent on a project before the prevailing wage law guarantees workers certain wages. Others, like Missouri, Illinois and Nebraska, cover public works projects no matter the contract amount.

Pay differs by skill set and county. In Cole County, carpenters make $25.16 and iron workers make $28.96 per hour. In rural Benton County, carpenters also make $25.16 while iron workers make $29 per hour.

Each year, all contractors, both union and non-union, are required to turn in the hours they worked to the Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations. Because local unions collectively bargain wages in each county, all union contractors are lumped into the same pool.

To determine the prevailing wage in each county, the state compares the number of hours worked in each county at the collectively bargained rate and the rate non-union contractors pay. The rate with the most hours worked each year prevails and becomes the wage for each skill set in each county.

(Read More)

Nashville leads new report in hazardous conditions, injury rates for construction workers

by Kaylin Searles
Tuesday, May 23rd 2017

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WZTV) – Metro Council members, construction workers and advocates are trying to make changes in the construction industry after a new report claims that Nashville has the most hazardous conditions and the high injury rates for workers.

“Build a Better South” conducted the survey, questioning 1,400 construction workers from the Nashville area alone. The survey was also conducted in Atlanta, Charlotte, Dallas, Houston and Miami.

According to the report, one in four Nashville workers had been injured at some point in their construction career, the highest of the research cities. Ten percent of workers had been injured just in the last year.

Jackie Cornejo, with Build a Better South, said one of the most concerning points of the report for Nashville is the amount of injuries that go unreported. The study found a 12.7 percent injury rate per 100 workers annually in Tennessee, which is four times higher than the injury/illness rate reported by OSHA for the state.

Construction workers gave testimony echoing this at the news conference Tuesday. Some workers said their wages aren’t high enough to afford a health insurance plan, thus paying for treatment out of pocket or never reporting the injury.

But, about 81 percent of those injuries that were reported last year received no workers’ compensation.

(Read More)

Massachusetts settles with three construction companies that allegedly violated wage laws

by Mark Iandolo |
May 23, 2017, 8:52am

BOSTON (Legal Newsline) – Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey announced May 15 that three construction companies in the state will pay more than $600,000 for allegations of failing to pay the proper prevailing wage rate to employees for work performed on public projects.

“Our prevailing wage laws ensure a level playing field for contractors who perform work for public entities, including municipalities, schools, libraries and housing authorities,” Healey said. “When contractors skirt these laws, they not only cheat employees out of their wages, they undermine the competitive business environment of Massachusetts.”

The citations came against Ronan Jarvis, former owner of MC Starr Companies Inc., DANCO Management Inc. and its owner Daniel Tremblay, and R&A Drywall LLC and owner Allan S. Vitale.

Massachusetts state law mandates that contractors and subcontractors pay employees a special minimum wage determined by the state for any work done on public construction projects.

The Jarvis and R&A Drywall cases are being handled by assistant attorney general Erik Bennett and investigator Tom Lam, both of the department’s Fair Labor Division. Assistant attorney general Barbara Dillon DeSouza and inspector Brian Davies, both of the Fair Labor Division, are handling the DANCO case.

(Read More)

UPDATE: OSHA delays electronic recordkeeping rule deadline

Author Emily Peiffer, Hallie Busta
UPDATE: The Occupational Safety and Health Administration said Wednesday that it will suspend the electronic recordkeeping rule’s filing deadline in order to give employers more time to comply, according to The Washington Post. Although the filing date was originally scheduled for July 1, the agency has not yet opened the online portal for companies to submit their injury and illness logs. OSHA has not announced how long the extension will last.
Dive Brief:
  • The National Association of Home Builders – along with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Oklahoma State Homebuilders Association, the State Chamber of Oklahoma and three poultry associations – filed a lawsuit in January against the U.S. Department of Labor and OSHA in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma relating to OSHA’s final recordkeeping rule.
  • The lawsuit claims that the rule, “Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses,” overreaches and violates businesses’ rights under the First and Fifth amendments to the U.S. Constitution, effectively asking the court to apply strict scrutiny in determining the rule’s constitutionality.
  • OSHA’s announcement of the final rule in May 2016, which put in place new electronic recordkeeping and reporting requirements among companies with more than 20 employees, was met with pushback from construction industry trade groups concerning the exposure of private data.

 

Dive Insight:

The January lawsuit claimed that OSHA doesn’t have the authority to create what it says will be a public database for employers’ injury and illness records, and it argues that the information’s publication won’t impact workplace safety or health. Instead, the lawsuit calls the rule “an imposition on businesses” and says that the publication of “confidential and proprietary information” could be misused, exposing the business “to significant reputational harm.”

(Read More)