Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Prevailing Wage Underpayments: Contractor Pays $200,000 in Back Wages

After a worker complaint and investigation by the Washington Department of Labor and Industries, a Colorado contractor working on a Whatcom County (WA) jail project has paid almost $200,000 in back wages due to the workers. 

Workers were not apprentices:  The 13 workers were paid apprenticeship wages rather than the journey level electrician prevailing wages.  "In this case," noted Jim Christensen, Washington's prevailing wage manager, "the employees were doing the work of electricians and were not part of any state-registered apprenticeship program."

Contractor paid back wages in August:  The prevailing wage violation was the first one for Sierra Detention Systems, who contracted with the County for a $2 million contract.  In August, the company paid Labor and Industries $196,214.40 that will be disbursed to the underpaid workers. 

Fairness in bidding:  Given state and federal prevailing wage laws, when a contractor does not pay the prevailing wages, it directly impacts the integrity of the competitive bidding process.  Public agencies that receive federal funding for a public construction project are required to monitor whether the workers are being paid at least the prevailing wage rates for the type of work being performed.  Click here for an earlier blog I wrote on monitoring federal prevailing wages. 

News release:  Click here for a news release on the Colorado contractor underpayments, published by the Washington Department of Labor and Industries.

Mike Purdy's Public Contracting Blog
© 2014 by Michael E. Purdy Associates, LLC

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