Union workers win $76M from Midtown construction firm that used alter-ego company to skirt collective bargaining (NY)

Ginger Adams Otis
Thursday, September 21, 2017, 2:41 PM

A Midtown construction company accused of creating a bogus business to avoid union wages and union benefit payments has to cough up $76 million to the workers it cheated.
In a decision with potentially far-reaching consequences for city developers, Manhattan Federal Court Judge Colleen McMahon found that Navillus Tile fraudulently invented an alter-ego company to try and get around collectively bargained agreements it had with several major city construction unions.

The company also had one of its legitimate offshoot businesses act as a Navillus stand-in on a job it wanted to do non-union, the ruling found.

The collusion also involved real estate giant Related, one of the city’s most prolific developers.

It knowingly engaged with one of the alter-ego companies on its Upper East Side luxury development on 92nd St., Judge McMahon’s ruling said.

In her scathing, 95-page ruling delivered late Thursday after a three-year court battle, McMahon said that Navillus’ founder, Donal O’Sullivan had “perjured himself” more than once and noted that another company principal was “obviously lying” in some testimony.

The $76 million in back wages and contributions to health, pension and general welfare funds will be split between the Metal Lathers Local 46, Cement and Concrete Workers District Council, Cement Masons Local 780, the District Council of Carpenters and Teamsters Local 282.

They came together in 2014 to launch the complicated lawsuit against Navillus Tile, which had signed collective-bargaining agreements with all of them for a variety of jobs on construction sites.

(Read More)

Bonney Lake contractor fined for underpaying workers on public school projects (WA)

by KOMO Staff
Tuesday, October 10th 2017

OLYMPIA, Wash. – A Bonney Lake contractor was fined $218,000 and ordered to pay out $210,000 in back wages after an investigation found it shorted employees for work on 10 public school construction projects, the state Department of Labor & Industries reports.

The company, I&C Northwest of Bonney Lake, and owner Jim Lingnaw, were cited for the unpaid regular wages and overtime, and for false reporting. The company owes also faces a prohibition from bidding on any public works projects.

The back pay was owed to nine who worked for I&C Northwest on the public school projects.

Jim Christensen, prevailing wage program manager for L&I, said the citations are based on the contractor’s continued violations of state law after the agency educated the firm on requirements for public contracts. The agency warned Lingnaw in January 2016 about receiving fines and disbarment after L&I uncovered the same violations on five other projects.

Investigations involving the company go back to at least 2014, said L&I spokesman Matthew Erlich.

“This case represents examples of repeated violations of the law,” said Christensen, who has more than a decade of experience handling prevailing wage issues. “Our investigation showed I&C falsified pay documents and shorted the workers on each project. This goes beyond a simple, honest mistake.”

(Read More)

Sen. Wirch’s bill takes aim at ‘wage theft’ (WI)

Tuesday, October 26, 2017

MADISON – Whether it’s not being paid for overtime, forcing employees to work off the clock or violating minimum wage laws, wage theft is an issue for employees across the country and some new legislation in Madison is looking to reduce the problem.

State Sen. Bob Wirch, D-Somers, testified at a public hearing on Thursday in support of Senate Bill 371, which he hopes will have a positive impact for workers, if passed.

“The changes I am proposing are reasonable solutions that will address some of the legal loopholes that have allowed this practice to grow, level the playing field for the many business owners who play within the rules and take care of their employees,” Wirch said.

The proposed law would penalize employers who violate their workers rights starting with a $500 fine for the first violation, $750 for the second violation and $1,000 for every violation after that.

Wirch said he’s hoping to have bipartisan support for the bill and that it will be voted on before the end of the session

(Read More)

Understanding Low-Wage Work in West Virginia

A Look at the People, Industries, Places, and Policies Affected by Low-Wage Work in West Virginia

September 8, 2017
Media Contact: Caitlin Cook

[Charleston, WV] – Poverty is a persistent problem in West Virginia, where tens of thousands of West Virginians live in poverty because their jobs do not pay a living wage. Read the full report.

This 10th annual State of Working West Virginia focuses on low-wage work, including demographics of those who do the work; the industries that employ them; geographic factors; the role of public programs supporting low-wage workers; and policy recommendations to improve economic well-being.

The report reveals the shifting role of low-wage work in the state’s economy, now its main source of job growth, and a path no longer confined to young workers entering the workforce. The complete picture of West Virginia’s economy shows growth in low-wage industries, while non-low wage industries decline, and wages stagnate for both.
“Low-wage work has a profound impact on West Virginia’s economy, from the capabilities of workers to provide for their families, to their health and well-being, all the way to the state budget,” said Sean O’Leary, Interim Executive Director for the West Virginia on Center on Budget and Policy. “As low-wage jobs become more prevalent in the state’s economy, we must consider public policies that support these workers and their families, recognizing their importance to the state.”

Key Findings

  • Twenty-three percent of the state’s workforce is employed in low-wage jobs.
  • Forty-four percent of West Virginia’s workers with less than a high school diploma earn low wages, while the rate of low-wage workers who possess a high school degree or some college is 28 percent.

(Read More)

(Full PDF of Report)

Will West Virginians get the highways jobs?

By Brad McElhinny in News
October 05, 2017 at 3:35PM

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Gov. Jim Justice says he wants a $1.6 billion road bond to stimulate West Virginia’s economy and create thousands of jobs.

As he’s been asked about the jobs during his tour of the state in support of the road projects, Justice has acknowledged he can’t guarantee all the jobs will be filled by West Virginians. But he always says he hopes as many as possible will go to state residents.

“We’re going to try to hire as many West Virginians as we possibly can to do the jobs. Hopefully we’ll end up hiring every job to be a West Virginian. But reality is, that won’t happen,” Justice said this week in Moorefield.

“I’ll tell you this, those contractors that are hiring people that aren’t from West Virginia, we will urge them to hire people who are from West Virginia. And on top of that, we’ll make sure that every dadgum tax dollar is collected. Every tax dollar.”

West Virginia voters go to the polls Saturday to approve or reject the road bond amendment. Polls open at 6:30 a.m. and close at 7:30 p.m. The Secretary of State’s office reported 37,434 voters participated in the early period that ended Wednesday.

The West Virginia Affiliated Construction Trades Foundation is a supporter of the road bond, but would like greater assurances of employing all West Virginians possible.

“The devil’s in the details,” said Steve White, director of the Affiliated Construction Trades. “He’s been able to push forward a major road building plan that we’ve needed for years.”

White would like to minimize the role of hope. He would like more specifics aimed at ensuring West Virginia contractors and construction workers have every opportunity to compete for the possible infrastructure jobs ahead.

(Read More)