Builders, construction workers settle fight over California wage theft bill (CA)

SEPTEMBER 14, 2017 9:52 AM

A contentious proposal that would put California builders on the hook for wage theft violations by their subcontractors has advanced to Gov. Jerry Brown after a last-minute agreement between the author and opponents.

The Assembly on Wednesday sent to the governor’s desk Assembly Bill 1701, which would allow construction workers who have not been paid for a job to seek their back wages and benefits, with interest, from the general contractor, even if they did not work directly for that company on the project.

Both the building industry and construction trade unions lobbied heavily on the measure, by Assemblyman Tony Thurmond, D-Richmond, in the final weeks of session, plastering websites with digital advertisements, passing out fliers on the sidewalk outside the Capitol and setting up an electronic billboard across the street.

Unions argued that AB 1701 gives workers a legal remedy when subcontractors skip town or file for bankruptcy before paying employees, while the building industry warned that it could drive up the cost of construction and worsen California’s housing crisis by potentially forcing them to pay twice for labor.

Yet the measure received overwhelming support Wednesday when it came up for a vote in the Assembly, passing 52-13. Just before that, Thurmond said, he submitted a letter to the Legislature stating his intent to carry a follow-up bill. It will remove a section of AB 1701 that builders worried could be used to hold them liable for further monetary damages.

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Lies surrounding Davis Bacon compliance land concrete contractor jail time

WHD News Release: 07/27/2017
Release Number: 17-1028-SAN

PORTLAND, Ore. – The owner of an Oregon concrete company that contracted with the federal government recently started a two-month prison sentence for lying to federal investigators. The crime occurred when he told U.S. Department of Labor officials that he had paid employees more than $93,000 in back wages that the Department’s Wage and Hour Division found the company owed its workers following a 2014 investigation.

The Department’s investigation revealed that Westwind Concrete had failed to pay the proper prevailing wage rates on a project in Tualatin in violation of the Davis Bacon and Related Acts, which applied because the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development financed the project. Westwind Concrete is based in Cloverdale.

Westwind owner Jeffery Hurliman assured the division that he would pay more than $93,000 in back wages he owed to 27 workers and later provided certifications that he claimed were from his employees attesting to having received back wages.

The Department’s Office of Inspector General investigated Hurliman after officials in the division’s Portland office noted discrepancies on the proofs of payment. The investigation revealed that the certifications were falsified and that when Hurliman learned about the investigation, he offered money to employees to lie to investigators.

The Department’s findings led to federal criminal prosecution against Hurliman and a two-month prison sentence. Hurliman agreed to a deal in January 2017 in which he pleaded guilty to witness tampering and providing false statements to the government, both felonies, and began his sentence on June 15, 2017. He will be on supervised release for three years following his release from prison on Aug. 15, 2017. In the meantime, the department has sued to prevent him from obtaining future government contracts.

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Viking Village pool workers to get back pay

By Fatima Hussein | July 25, 2016

More than 20 pipefitters and bricklayers constructing the Viking Village Shared Facility Pool in Sharonville will recover a total of $147,000 in back wages and benefits following an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division.

Federal investigators found Kitchener, Ontario-based Gall Construction of America LTD, operating as Acapulco Pools, underpaid 21 workers up to $17 per hour in salary and benefits.

The company violated provisions of the Davis-Bacon and Related Acts, which cover areas of prevailing wage laws and the Contract Work Hours and Safety Standards Act, which govern wage rates for projects receiving federal funds, the labor department said.

In a news release, the department said it determined the company had classified the bricklayers and other workers as general laborers and failed to pay them prevailing wages, fringe benefits and overtime at the rate due for their job titles.

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WHD News Release: 07/11/2016

Release Number: 16-1439-CHI

CINCINNATI, Ohio – Pipefitters and bricklayers constructing the Viking Village Shared Facility Pool in Sharonville under a federal contract will recover a total of $147,000 in back wages and benefits following an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division.

Federal investigators found Gall Construction of America LTD underpaid the workers up to $17 per hour in salary and benefits, and violated provisions of the Davis-Bacon and Related Acts and the Contract Work Hours and Safety Standards Act, which govern wage rates for projects receiving federal funds. The company operates as Acapulco Pools.

The division determined the company classified 21 bricklayers and pipefitters as general labors and failed to pay prevailing wages, fringe benefits and overtime at the rate due for their job titles. Gall also failed to keep accurate time and payroll records for employees. To resolve these violations the company agreed to pay the workers the monies owed in back wages and benefits.

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Litigation alleged prevailing wage, overtime violations

WHD News Release: 07/14/2016

Release Number: 16-1203-NEW

NEW YORK – Thirty-one workers employed on the federally funded cobblestone reconstruction project on Manhattan’s Peck Slip will receive $431,715 in back wages and interest following an investigation and litigation by the U.S. Department of Labor.

The department’s Wage and Hour Division found that the workers did not receive the proper prevailing wages and fringe benefits required under the Davis-Bacon and Related Acts and the Contract Work Hours and Safety Standards Act.

Sam Schwartz Engineering, a first-tier subcontractor under prime contractor MFM Contracting Corp. employed the workers. Investigators found that the employees who worked as flaggers on the project were incorrectly classified. The division alleged that – between August 2011 and January 2014 – they were paid $15 to $25 per hour instead of the prevailing wage rate of $44.49 per hour. The investigation also found workers did not receive all the overtime they were due under CWHSSA when they worked more than 40 hours in a week, did not receive holiday pay and that they were not paid on a weekly basis, as required.

The department’s Office of the Solicitor filed an administrative proceeding in 2015 against MFM Contracting and Sam Schwartz Engineering. The case is now being resolved with a consent findings and order approved by the department’s Office of Administrative Law Judges. Under the order, workers from the Peck Slip project will receive $431,715 in unpaid wages.

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SJ Insulation debarred from future government contracts following joint enforcement effort with New York Attorney General

WHD News Release: 05/25/2016
Release Number: 16-0804-NEW

NEW YORK – The U.S. Department of Labor has recovered $189,000 in unpaid wages and overtime for 28 carpenters and laborers who worked on the federally funded West 131st St. Cluster Project in Harlem between April 2009 and April 2010. This was the result of a joint enforcement effort with the office of New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman in which the two agencies shared information and worked collaboratively on behalf of workers in New York. The attorney general’s investigation continues.

“Contractors on federally funded construction projects commit to paying their workers the required wages and fringe benefits when they bid these contracts. When, as in this case, they cheat their workers, they are also cheating the taxpayers who ultimately fund these jobs,” said Wage and Hour Division Regional Administrator Mark Watson, Jr. “As the resolution of this case demonstrates, we will not tolerate such illegal behavior.”

“We thank Attorney General Schneiderman and his staff for working jointly with us during the prosecution of this case. We have the mutual goals of ensuring that employees in our jurisdictions are paid and treated properly and employers who underpay their workers do not secure an unfair advantage over law-abiding employers,” said Jeffrey S. Rogoff, the department’s regional solicitor in New York.

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US Labor Department recovers more than $342K in unpaid overtime wages, damages for 22 So Cal construction and maintenance employees

WHD News Brief: [12/07/2015]
Release Number: 15-2280-SAN


Employer: Salinas Inc.

Site: 1537 E. McFadden Avenue, Suite G, Santa Ana, California 92705

Investigation findings: An investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division found that Salinas Inc. violated the overtime and recordkeeping provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The firm paid field workers, such as plumbers and carpet cleaners, a fixed semi-monthly salary regardless of the hours these employees actually worked. Some of these workers were also paid an additional flat rate for service calls. These employees often worked as many as 70 hours per week, but were not paid legally-required overtime for hours worked beyond 40 in a workweek. The carpeting, plumbing, painting and janitorial general contractor did use time cards for office staff but failed to keep any records of hours worked by their field employees, as required under federal law.

Resolution: Salinas will pay $171,428 in overtime back wages plus an equal, additional amount in liquidated damages, totaling $342,856 to 22 workers.

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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.

Honolulu subcontractor pays more than $305K in back wages, damages to 65 workers after US Labor Department investigation

U.S. Department of Labor          February 9, 2015

Wage and Hour Division            Release Number: 14-2339-SAN (SF-9)

HONOLULU — M.H. Electric has paid $290,588 in back wages to 65 workers after the U.S. Department of Labor determined that the Honolulu-based subcontractor violated federal wage and hour laws at 10 federally funded construction projects awarded in Hawaii between 2012 and 2014 by the Hawaii Air National Guard and the U.S. Departments of the Navy, Army and Veterans Affairs. In resolving the department’s allegations, the company also paid an additional $14,507 in back wages and damages for overtime violations under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

The department’s Wage and Hour Division found M.H. Electric violated the Davis-Bacon and Related Acts and Contract Work Hours and Safety Standards Act. The company failed to pay its employees for their overtime hours in a timely manner. Instead, the employer systematically “banked” those overtime hours at straight-time wage rates for future use as vacation or sick time, or to be used when employees worked less than 40 hours. That violated the overtime standards of both the CWHSSA and the FLSA, which require that an employer pay time and one-half for hours worked beyond 40 in a workweek.

“Federal contractors owe it to taxpayers to comply with all applicable laws, including paying their workers fairly and fully,” said Terence Trotter, district director for the Wage and Hour Division in Honolulu. “In this case, we appreciate the cooperation shown by M.H. Electric to help resolve the matter expeditiously and to commit to future compliance with applicable labor standards.”

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Governor Cuomo Announces $30 Million in Recovered Wages

Record Amount Disbursed to More Than 27K Workers for 2014

February 4, 2015 | Albany, NY

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced a new record in 2014 for the amount of money returned to workers who originally were not paid the proper minimum wage, overtime pay or fringe benefits. In 2014, $30.2 million was disbursed to nearly 27,000 workers – more than any previous year and a 35 percent increase in recovered funds over 2013.

“No one should be cheated out of their hard-earned wages, and as these numbers show, our administration is making a difference for workers across the State by actively cracking down on wage theft,” Governor Cuomo said. “I’m proud to say that investigators recovered more stolen wages in 2014 than ever before – which means more money stays with the hard-working men and women who earned it in the first place.”

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