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)

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.

(Read More)

Immigrant workers rally in NE Portland to shed light on problems in construction industry (OR)

Posted: Jul 28, 2017 12:34 AM EDT
Updated: Jul 28, 2017 12:34 AM EDT
By FOX 12 Staff

A group representing immigrant construction workers say they’re victims of rampant wage theft with many workers too afraid to come forward.

On Thursday the group held a rally that was organized by Portland Jobs with Justice for Immigrant Carpenters in Portland-area construction.

Workers took the podium to talk about instances of wage theft and other abuses they say they’ve experienced.

Workers say Thursday’s rally was to shed light on what they call a huge problem in Portland’s construction industry.

“Portland is under a huge construction boom right now. We got cranes all over, buildings going up left and right. But there’s an underground problem,” said Ben Besom with Northwest Carpenters Union. “It’s a really hard number to quantify because a lot of the people being exploited on these projects are afraid to come out of the shadows and tell their stories.”

(Read More)

Contractor fined $189K for OR bridge safety violations

Kim Slowey
June 21, 2017

Dive Brief:

  • The Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has fined a Minnesota contractor $189,000 and issued the company nine safety violations related to worker injuries on a Portland, OR, bridge project, according to KGW.com.
  • Oregon OSHA said contractor Abhe & Svoboda did not provide adequate fall protection for workers prior to an incident in which a worker fell 37 feet from the bridge and landed on another individual, injuring them both.
  • Company officials allegedly tried to justify their lack of compliance with Oregon’s safety rules by arguing that the rules change too often. The agency cited the company with two willful and seven serious violations.

Dive Insight:

While construction work in general is inherently dangerous, bridge work can be especially risky, as many employees are consistently working at elevated heights. In November, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation charged contractor Joseph B. Fay Co. $3.3 million for damages related to a fire that erupted on the Liberty Bridge in Pittsburgh while Fay was working there.

(Read More)

Portland tax breaks should require wage, employment standards, mayor says

Mayor Ethan Strimling is again proposing new requirements for companies that seek to reduce property taxes as an incentive for new development.

Posted April 14

Portland Mayor Ethan Strimling is renewing efforts to require companies that receive city tax breaks to diversify their construction crews and pay a livable wage, among other things.

The proposal would only apply to projects that receive Tax Increment Financing from the city, but not all city-funded projects, such as school renovations.

“If we’re going to give tax breaks like this, we want to make sure there’s a broad community benefit,” Strimling said. “This is the starting point for the conversation. My goal is to use taxpayer money well.”

The proposal also requires crews to be paid the wages and fringe benefits established in either the state prevailing wage law, or the city’s minimum wage law, whichever is greater.
Prevailing wages are set on an annual basis by the state Department of Labor on a county-by-county basis for state construction projects exceeding $50,000.

In 2017, prevailing wages, including fringe benefits, were around $20 an hour, ranging from $13.63 an hour for a fence-setter to $91.28 for an elevator installer, according to the DOL.

(Read More)

Oregon bans janitorial company from government jobs over wage theft


By Bethany Barnes
on September 28, 2016 at 4:40 PM

A Hillsboro janitorial company is forever blacklisted from government work after an investigation by the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries found widespread underpayment of workers.

As part of the settlement, Cornerstone Janitorial must pay $144,000 in damages to 46 workers. That’s on top of almost $200,000 in back wages collected by the bureau last year, in connection with Cornerstone employees’ work on 16 different taxpayer-funded projects.

Cornerstone has worked as a cleanup subcontractor for some of the region’s biggest construction firms in the region. The investigation involved health and education related projects in Portland, Eugene, Stayton, Junction City, Salem, Keizer, Philomath, Vernonia, Corvallis, Monmouth and Wilsonville, according to the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries press release.

(Read More)

Oregon Law to Affect Pay Stubs, Time and Pay Records, and Wage Theft

by Kelly Riggs

The State of Oregon has enacted a new law, SB 1587, designed to increase transparency with respect to employee pay, prevent wage theft, and expose wage and hour violations. Generally, the law will require employers to provide additional details on itemized pay stubs and allow employees to inspect and request copies of their time and pay records. The law also provides increased enforcement measures and prohibits wage theft by public works contractors and subcontractors. Employers must comply with the new requirements, summarized below, beginning January 1, 2017.

Itemized Pay Stubs

Under the new amendments to the current pay stub statute, ORS 652.610, employers will be required to provide much greater detail on itemized, written pay stubs, including:

  • the date of the payment;
  • the dates of work covered by the payment;
  • the employee’s name;
  • the name and business registry number or business identification number of the employer;
  • the address and telephone number of the employer;
  • the rate or rates of pay;
  • whether the employee is paid by the hour, shift, day, or week or on a salary, piece, or commission basis;
  • gross wages;
  • net wages;
  • the amount and purpose of each deduction made during the period of service that the payment covers;
  • allowances, if any, claimed as part of minimum wage;
  • unless paid on a salary basis and legally exempt from overtime pay, the regular hourly rate or rates of pay, the overtime rate or rates of pay, the number of regular hours worked and pay for those hours, and the number of overtime hours worked and pay for those hours; and
  • if paid on a piece rate, the applicable piece rate or rates of pay, the number of pieces completed at each rate, and the total pay for each rate.

Employers may provide itemized pay stubs to employees in electronic form, but only if (1) the employee expressly agrees to receive them in electronic form; and (2) the employee has the ability to print or store the statement at the time of receipt.

Oregon law already provides that itemized pay stub violations constitute a Class D criminal violation, potentially punishable by a fine of up to $250 for individuals or $500 for corporations. Beginning on January 1, 2017, violations of these new pay stub provisions will also constitute a Class D criminal violation.

(Read More)

Oregon Issues Rules In Advance Of New Minimum Wage Law

by Chris Lehman
June 15, 2016 5:56 p.m.
Updated: June 15, 2016 7 p.m.

Oregon employers have new guidance from the state on how much to pay their employees when the state’s minimum wage goes up next month. The Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries released rules Wednesday meant to clear up one of the questions surrounding the legislatively-approved minimum wage hike.

The state’s minimum wage goes up July 1, but the amount of the increase depends on where you work. The wage goes up 25 cents per hour in rural counties and 50 cents per hour everywhere else. Next year, the state moves to a three-tiered system which gives workers in the Portland metro area a higher rate than the rest of the state.

But what about workers whose job sometimes takes them across the boundaries of the state’s three-tiered minimum wage map? Employers are worried they’d have to keep meticulous track of how much time any given worker spent in any given place.

(Read More)


WHD News Brief:

Release Number:

U.S. Department of Labor’s
Wage and Hour Division
Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries

Partnership description:
The division and bureau signed a three-year Memorandum of Understanding intended to protect employees’ rights by preventing their misclassification as independent contractors or other non-employee statuses. The two agencies will provide clear, accurate and easy-to-access outreach to employers, employees, and other stakeholders; share resources and enhance enforcement by conducting coordinated investigations and sharing information consistent with applicable law.

(Read More)

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.