How New York and Illinois Curb a Key Labor Violation While Other States Fall Short

This story is part of the series called “Contract to Cheat” published by McClatchy DC. The series tracks how several states fail to prevent construction companies doing public projects from misclassifying their workers as independent contractors 2014 a practice that cheats taxpayers out of billions of dollars each year and denies workers protections.

Read the entire series on McClatchy’s site

On an overcast July afternoon, with the clock ticking on their lunch break, men in blue jeans and hard hats filed out of the four-story Fairfield Inn & Suites under construction near Interstate 270.

Jon Gould, a Carpenters Union job site investigator, stood in the parking lot of a nearby filling station and gazed at the half-finished motel. Three months earlier, on a hunch, investigators from Gould’s union had started videotaping the people building the motel.

The surveillance was taking place to answer a big question: Was Road Runner Construction, of Little Rock, Ark., the motel framing contractor, trying to get away with a practice known as misclassification? Repeated countless times nationwide, often with impunity, the practice enables dishonest companies to underbid honest competitors by categorizing employees as independent contractors-thereby dodging laws that require the payment of state and federal taxes.

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Updated Overtime Rules Would Cover 6.1 Million Workers

In March of 2014, President Obama announced that the Department of Labor would adjust the salary threshold that determines which workers are eligible for overtime pay, so that low-paid salaried workers get paid overtime when they work long hours. Currently, salaried workers who earn more than $455 per week ($23,660 per year) may be exempt from being paid time-and-a-half for working more than 40 hours a week. EPI has previously recommended that the salary threshold be increased to $984-equal to its level in 1975, adjusted for inflation.

In Increasing the Overtime Salary Threshold is Family-Friendly Policy, EPI economist Heidi Shierholz examines who would be affected by this rule change and finds that raising the threshold to $984 would make 6.1 million more salaried workers eligible for overtime. In the first demographic breakdown of who would be affected by the rule change, Shierholz finds that an increase of this level would disproportionately help women, blacks, Hispanics, workers under age 35, and workers with lower levels of education. The newly covered workers would be those at the low end of the salary scale, who have limited power to bargain over their wages or hours.

“Raising the salary threshold for overtime will help low-paid managers and professionals, especially women and people of color, who are not being compensated when they work over 40 hours a week,” said Shierholz. “It’s clear that the Department of Labor should raise the threshold to $984, or even higher, so that low-paid white-collar workers are treated fairly.”

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DOL Wage and Hour Division announces upcoming Prevailing Wage Seminars

The Wage and Hour Division is pleased to announce the following Prevailing Wage Seminars for 2014:
Manchester, NH March 4-6, 2014
Phoenix, AZ March 18-20, 2014
Chicago, IL April 1-3, 2014
San Diego, CA April 22-24, 2014
Houston, TX May 7-9, 2014
Atlanta, GA June 3-5, 2014

If you wish to attend one of these seminars, please send an email to WHDPWS@dol.gov Your email should include your name, title, organization, mailing address, email address, and location of the seminar that you wish to attend. There is no fee for attending any of these seminars, however, space is limited. Upon receipt of this information, we will advise you whether your request can be accommodated.

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Summit Drywall Inc. ordered to pay $550,000 in unpaid wages and damages to 384 workers to settle US Department of Labor lawsuit

SEATTLE – The U.S. Department of Labor has obtained a consent judgment in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington ordering Issaquah-based drywall installer Summit Drywall Inc., and its owner Thomas Kauzlarich, to pay $550,000 in overtime back wages and liquidated damages to 384 current and former employees. The judgment resolves an investigation and subsequent lawsuit by the department that found the company violated the Fair Labor Standards Act’s overtime and record-keeping provisions from Oct. 15, 2009, through April 15, 2013.

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Court Decides H-2B Visas Should Be Protected by Prevailing Wages to Avoid Hurting American Workers

The Third District Court of Appeals handed American workers a victory with their ruling in the case of Louisiana Forestry Association v. Secretary, U.S. Department of Labor.  The court found that the Department of Labor’s  wage regulation methodology is valid pertaining to H-2b visas, meaning the Department of Homeland Security must rely on the Labor Department’s decisions about the number of American workers available for a job.

$137,000 in Back Wages Recovered for 31 Employees on Ohio Project Following USDOL Investigation

BBC Foundation & Flatwork LLC has paid $137,705 in back wages to 31 employees of the Carleton concrete company for performing work on a federal transit project in Toledo.

An investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division found that the contractor violated the Fair Labor Standards Act, Davis-Bacon and Related Acts and the Contract Work Hours and Safety Standards Act.

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Six H-1B Visa Abusers Arrested for “Benching” of Workers to Artificially Lower Wages

Recent actions by Federal authorities in Texas – namely the arrest of six top officials of Dibon Solutions for conspiracy to commit H-1B visa fraud and wire fraud charges – shows an uptick in prosecution of guest worker program abusers.

H1-B visa fraud lowers the wages of American workers by flooding markets with cheap foreign labor.  It also allows for abuse of those coming to America to work when the control of their passport and legal status is in the hands of unscrupulous employers.

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