Since 2006, construction workers on city projects lost more than $275,000 in wages

Wage theft is prevalent, even among construction projects paid for by the city of Seattle.

The city’s Department of Finance and Administrative (FAS) employs six people to monitor wage theft among city construction contracts. Four have been working on the issue since 2006, but last year the council approved two more employees to address an uptick in wage-theft complaints.

Since 2006 the city’s investigators were able to pay construction employees more than $275,000 in recovered wages.

“This is not a unique issue to Seattle,” said Nancy Locke, director of city purchasing, describing how wages are intentionally and unintentionally withheld from workers.

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Seattle contractor who threatened workers with deportation to steal wages sentenced

A Seattle contractor who’d landed more than $1.1 million in government contracts was sentenced Friday to three months in jail for scamming workers out of pay as part of a scheme to underbid his competitors.

Dathan Williams’ thefts from his workers were uncovered following an intensive investigation that saw a Seattle police officer trained as a drywall installer and inserted into his company. Williams, 33, bragged about threatening his employees with deportation when they asked to be paid correctly.

Williams, 33, appears to have been targeted as part of a larger investigation into claims that Washington subcontractors are abusing workers and ignoring wage laws meant to keep opportunistic contractors from underbidding those paying higher wages.

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Washington state a leader in fighting payroll fraud, but problems still occur

Dathan Williams wasn’t shy when it came to bragging to his workers about how he was breaking the law.The owner of a Seattle drywall company boasted to his employees about how he shortchanged them on pay and dodged taxes to gain an edge in bidding wars for work on government contracts.

The subcontractor also told his employees – many of whom were in the country illegally – how he reported workers to immigration authorities after they complained they were being underpaid.

Unfortunately for Williams, one of his workers was an undercover Seattle police officer.In July, Williams pleaded guilty in King County Superior Court to two counts of second-degree theft and one count of filing false payroll documents. He faces up to a year in jail and a $10,000 fine when he is sentenced later this month.

The Williams case is a high-profile example of the kind of payroll fraud that labor groups and state regulators say happens too often in Washington, despite the state being viewed as a model for detecting and prosecuting offenders

Seattle Approves $15 Minimum Wage, Setting a New Standard for Big Cities

SEATTLE – The City Council here went where no big-city lawmakers have gone before on Monday, raising the local minimum wage to $15 an hour, more than double the federal minimum, and pushing Seattle to the forefront of urban efforts to address income inequality.
The unanimous vote of the nine-member Council, after months of discussion by a committee of business and labor leaders convened by Mayor Ed Murray, will give low-wage workers here – in incremental stages, with different tracks for different sizes of business – the highest big-city minimum in the nation.

“Even before the Great Recession a lot of us have started to have doubt and concern about the basic economic promise that underpins economic life in the United States,” said Sally J. Clark, a Council member. “Today Seattle answers that challenge,” she added. “We go into uncharted, unevaluated territory.”

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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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