Prevailing wage is good for workers (DE)

Letters to the Editor
Published 9:00 a.m. ET Sept. 12, 2017
Updated 10:26 a.m. ET Sept. 12, 2017

There he goes again. In the Monday News Journal story “Prevailing wage law ignites Republican suspicion,” Sen. Greg Lavelle continues to offer alternative facts about the state’s prevailing wage law.

The truth is prevailing wage is determined by wage surveys of construction work done in Delaware, reflecting a market rate for construction workers. It includes a worker’s total compensation – take home pay, cash value of health care benefits, and retirement benefits.

The prevailing wage applies to union and non-union construction workers and it levels the playing field for Delaware workers by protecting their wages from unscrupulous contractors and out of state workers.

Plus, multiple studies and analyses of other states, like Wisconsin and Indiana, that have eliminated prevailing wage have shown that the savings promised through the deceitful and anti-worker rhetoric never materialized.

Mike Hackendorn
Vice President, Delaware Building Trades Council

(Read More)

LCA contractors fined $2.9M over Detroit hires (MI)

Louis Aguilar, The Detroit News
Published 11:38 p.m. ET Aug. 23, 2017
Updated 8:29 a.m. ET Aug. 24, 2017

Dozens of the contractors building Little Caesars Arena have been fined a total of $2.9 million as of March for frequently not hiring at least 51 percent of Detroiters at the ongoing construction site, according to the latest data collected by the city.

And that total is expected to be even higher during the push to complete construction of the $862.9 million sports and entertainment complex by early September, based on the monthly data compiled by the city agency monitoring the workforce agreements on construction sites, said Portia Roberson, director of the city’s Office of Human Rights.

An average of 27 percent of total hours worked at the arena site were performed by Detroit residents from April 2015 to March 2017, the latest monthly data available. It’s been two years, August 2015, since at least 51 percent of hours worked at the site was done by Detroit residents, data shows. The percentage of hours worked is the measure the city uses to determine how many residents the individual contractors have working at the site.

In March alone, the city cited 53 of the contractors with fines ranging from $137,613 to a unit of Motor City Electric to 26 cents to John Papalas & Co. Motor City Electric is a large electrical contractor and the Papalas firm specializes in industrial painting and sheeting services. The other 32 contracting units on site were not fined, according to city records. Several large contractors, it should be noted, have multiple units working at the site.

Currently, crews are working three shifts each week day and Saturdays, with more than 1,100 workers on the site on weekdays, said a spokesman for Olympia Development of Michigan, the firm overseeing the construction.

(Read More)

Massachusetts contractor to pay $100,000 for alleged wage law violations (MA)

by Mark Iandolo |
Aug. 16, 2017, 8:47am

BOSTON (Legal Newsline) – Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey announced Aug. 8 that Wilmington Wiring Corporation (WWC) and owner John Garrett will pay more than $100,000 after allegations of intentionally failing to properly pay employees working on a public project for the city of Worcester to repair streetlights.
Healey’s office cited the defendants with failure to pay the prevailing wage, failure to furnish payroll records, and failure to furnish certified payroll records to the Attorney General’s Office.

According to Healy, the defendants failed to pay six employees the right wages on the public works project. Massachusetts has a prevailing wage law mandating that contractors and subcontractors working on public construction projects need to pay employees a special minimum wage based on occupational classification.

“Prevailing wage laws ensure workers are paid a real, living wage and level the playing field for companies that play by the rules,” Healey said. “Workers, honest employers and taxpayers lose when companies fail to follow wage and hour laws.”

Assistant attorney general Erik Bennett and investigator Tom Lam, both of Healey’s Fair Labor Division, handled the case for Massachusetts.

(See Article)

Marino Introduces New Jobs Law (NY)

By Jim Rondenelli August 15, 2017 12:17 PM

Joined by local union leaders and workers at City Hall, Utica Councilman Joe Marino introduced legislation he says will bring good paying jobs to Utica and skilled craftsmanship to City projects.

Marino says the new law would require contractors that win a bid in the City of Utica over $250,000 to have an apprenticeship program built into their company.

He says the jobs law would help put families back to work. Marino says under the apprenticeship program, they’ll get to earn while they learn and become skilled labor under the tutelage of skilled craftsmen.

Marino says there are about 750 certified apprenticeship contractors throughout the state.
Representatives from LIUNA Local 35, Plumber And Pipefitter Local 112 and IBEW Local 43 attended today’s announcement.

(See Article)

Fair Wage? What repeal of the prevailing wage could mean for the construction trades (WI)

TABLE OF EXPERTS
Aug 29, 2017

The Wisconsin Legislature is considering a full repeal of the prevailing wage statute, which sets construction wages for public projects. Proponents say it will save taxpayers money, but will it? And what are the potential negative impacts of a repeal? The Milwaukee Business Journal recently assembled a panel of experts representing the building trades to explore the issue.

STEVE BROAS (MODERATOR): THERE HAS BEEN A LOT OF DISCUSSION ABOUT THE PREVAILING WAGE. WHAT EXACTLY IS IT, AND WHY WAS IT STARTED?

DAN BUKIEWICZ: That’s a great way to start this conversation, because you really have to go back to the beginning to understand what prevailing wage is all about. It started during the Great Depression. Communities were seeing a lot of transient workers coming into their communities to do work, and they wanted to protect their own local economy and workers. So, prevailing wage was started first and foremost to protect local workers. It established a rate at what it cost to do business and live in that area.

DALE POWELEIT: It started in New York originally. An Alabama company came up and starting undercutting local contractors on construction projects. The people in the community said that was not fair to the area workers, and they decided to go to the federal government, which passed the Davis Bacon Act in 1931. Wisconsin passed its law three or four years after that and other states followed suit.

JEFF MEHRHOFF: The Wisconsin legislation was modeled after the Davis Bacon Act and sets standard local wages. It is not a statewide standard. It is based on the average of construction wages in that area. Milwaukee’s standard wage is different than Madison and different than Appleton.

MODERATOR: HOW DOES IT IMPACT PUBLIC AND PRIVATE PROJECTS?

BUKIEWICZ: Usually, prevailing wage applies only if tax dollars are attached. In Wisconsin, it includes state projects and projects for the University of Wisconsin system. It does not apply to private projects, but there are responsible contractors who pay prevailing wages on private projects, because they want to do the right thing. But that is strictly their call.

(Read More)

OHSU, contractor fined $37,600 for asbestos violations (OR)

Tracy Loew, Statesman Journal
Published 10:33 a.m. PT Aug. 24, 2017
Updated 10:34 a.m. PT Aug. 24, 2017

State environmental regulators have fined Oregon Health & Science University and a prominent contractor it hired a total of $37,600 for violating asbestos regulations during renovations at OHSU’s Oregon National Primate Research Center.

The renovations took place in July 2016 at OHSUs Colony Annex, at 505 NW 185th Ave. in Beaverton. The violations likely released asbestos fibers into the air and exposed the public, the state Department of Environmental Quality said.

OHSU was fined $10,400 for hiring an unlicensed asbestos abatement contractor. It also was cited for failing to have an accredited inspector survey the facility for asbestos prior to the renovation.

The penalty was reduced because OHSU later hired a licensed asbestos abatement contractor to remove remaining asbestos at the facility, and decontaminated the Farmington Landfill in Aloha, where the asbestos had been taken.

The contractor, Aloha-based In Line Commercial Construction, was fined $27,200 for conducting an asbestos abatement project without being licensed to do so, and for disposing of asbestos-containing waste at the landfill, which was not authorized to accept it.

The company also was cited for failing to have an accredited inspector survey the building for asbestos before the renovation, and for storing asbestos containing waste in uncovered drop boxes at the facility.

In Line Commercial Construction has completed other major renovations for OHSU, including a remodel of the emergency room.

Asbestos fibers are known to cause lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis, DEQ said. There is no safe level of exposure.

Both OHSU and the contractor were negligent, DEQ said.

(Read More)

Washington Company Cited for Shorting Construction Workers on Project (WA)

“Integrity vastly underpaid its employees for the work they did,” said Elizabeth Smith, assistant director for L&I’s Fraud Prevention and Labor Standards division. “It’s important that agencies and non-profits understand that using public money on a project means it’s covered under prevailing wage.”

Aug 28, 2017
Occupational Health & Safety

A Washington State Department of Labor & Industries found that six construction workers employed by Integrity Construction LLC were shorted more than $155,000 in wages for work on a Belfair senior center and are owed about $25,000 each for wood framing at the site, the Belfair Hospitality, Unity, and Belonging (HUB) Senior Center. Their employer, Integrity Construction LLC, was on the project from May to August 2015. L&I recently notified the company of the violation.

“Integrity vastly underpaid its employees for the work they did,” said Elizabeth Smith, assistant director for L&I’s Fraud Prevention and Labor Standards division. “By making sure contractors pay their workers fairly, we are creating a level playing field for firms in the construction industry.”

The investigation found the Tacoma company owes $156,692.48 in wages and more than $30,000 in fines and penalties. Integrity did not appeal the violation and is barred from bidding on future public works projects until that money is paid. The Belfair project received $1.86 million from the state’s capital budget, which meant Integrity was required to follow the state’s prevailing wage law. L&I enforces the law.

(Read More)

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

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. A schedule of events and registration forms are available at the below link to NAFC’s Conference page. Stay tuned for further details.

 

SOLD OUT

Governor Bill Walker signed a Responsible Contracting Administrative Order (AK)

July 27, 2017
Since taking office, Governor Walker has prioritized strengthening the rights of working Alaskans. At his direction, the Department of Labor and Workforce Development has stepped up enforcement of workplace safety and health laws, wage and hour protections, and efforts to combat worker misclassification. At noon on Thursday, July 27th Governor Walker will sign the Responsible Contracting Administrative Order, which will embed safety, health and labor rights compliance in the State’s contracting processes. Please join Governor Walker, Labor Commissioner Heidi Drygas, and labor and business stakeholders for the signing ceremony and a luncheon to celebrate this momentous progress in ensuring state contracts are awarded to responsible businesses.
 
Responsible Contracting Administrative Order 
  • The Responsible Contracting Administrative Order requires the Department of Administration to work with the Department of Labor and Workforce Development and the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities to develop regulations that ensure state contracts are awarded to businesses that comply with state and federal labor laws, including:
    • Alaska Occupational Safety and Health Administration laws
    • Alaska Wage and Hour Act
    • Alaska Workers’ Compensation Act
    • Fair Labor Standards Act
    • Davis-Bacon and Little Davis-Bacon Acts
    • Contract Work Hours and Safety Standards Act
    • National Labor Relations Act
    • Employment Security Tax Laws
  • The Department of Administration will also consider regulations to address debarment and suspension of contractors who have serious violations of workplace safety and labor laws
Benefits of the Responsible Contracting Administrative Order
  • State contracting processes will promote safe workplaces and respect workers’ labor rights
  • The State’s financial interests will be further protected by ensuring responsible businesses are used for state contracts
  • Improvements to workplace safety will facilitate long-term reductions in workers’ compensation insurance costs, as research shows labor rights abuses are associated with higher rates of workplace injury

(See Full Copy of Administrative Order)

Bipartisan coalition beats GOP attempt to weaken Davis-Bacon wage protections

July 26, 20171:33 PM CDT BY PAI

WASHINGTON)-By a 183-242 vote, the GOP-run U.S. House defeated the latest Republican assault on the Davis-Bacon Act and its legal prevailing wages for construction workers who toil on federally funded projects. Fifty-one Republicans joined all voting Democrats in backing Davis-Bacon. The other 183 Republicans voted to cut workers’ wages.

And in an indication that even Davis-Bacon foes realize their fight is uphill, Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Az., tried to weaken Davis-Bacon – by lowering the wage base – rather than kill it altogether. But nobody was fooled.

Gosar’s amendment to weaken Davis-Bacon “would hurt the local economy, devalue workers’ pay, and take a very important tool out of the toolbox for Republicans, Democrats, and Americans,” said Rep. David Norcross, D-N.J., an Electrical Worker and former Building Trades Council president in southern New Jersey. He led the debate against Gosar’s move.

“The prevailing wage is based on surveys of local wages and benefits, not whether there is a union or not,” Norcross added. “It keeps the community vibrant, and it takes into account those things that happened” there. ” So when you hear the term ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” this is a classic example.”

Besides, “This is about cutting wages in your local community.” He asked colleagues “Why would you ever want to go back and say, ‘I want to hurt the people I represent?'”

The 86-year-old Davis-Bacon Act mandates that locally prevailing wages, determined by the Labor Department, go to construction workers – union and non-union – toiling on federally funded projects such as highways, bridges, airports and subway systems.

For years, construction unions have successfully defended Davis-Bacon against assaults by the anti-worker anti-union Associated Builders and Contractors and its congressional Republican allies, even though two House Republicans pushed Davis-Bacon through in 1931. That scenario occurred again on July 14 during debate on the defense bill.

(Read More)