Tag Archives: Prevailing Wage

Back Wages Owed by Construction Company

Construction company must pay nearly $100,000 in back wages, and over $28,000 in fines.

The owner of a Maple Valley construction company must pay several employees nearly $100,000 in back wages for work on a Tacoma public housing project.

The state Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) cited Alejandro Sandoval for not paying the required wages and failure to file payroll records. He faces being barred from bidding on any future public projects until the workers are paid.

Sandoval has appealed the L&I citation. Late last month, the Office of Administrative Hearings scheduled the appeal for Aug. 10-14, 2020.

Sandoval Construction was hired to perform wall and roof framing and other carpentry work on the Valhalla Apartment Project for the City of Tacoma in 2017. In all, 25 workers are owed a little more than $92,500 in back wages because the company didn’t pay the required rate of $40.66 per hour for residential carpenters. The company also owes $28,500 in fines.

“This company has an established history of not paying workers what they’re owed,” said Jim Christensen, L&I’s Prevailing Wage Program manager. “We had to take this action after years of educating the company about their requirements under state law.”

A history of problems

After a 2016 investigation, Sandoval pleaded guilty last year to false reporting and first-degree theft in a separate construction case. He owed a dozen workers more than $25,000 in unpaid wages involving framing of residential projects in Seattle and King County. Under separate civil proceedings, he also owed at least $197,000 in unpaid workers’ compensation insurance premiums, interest and penalties. As a result of plea agreements signed earlier this year, the company repaid the wages and is on a plan to repay $35,000 in premiums by June 2020.

Details of recent investigation

The recent investigation started in January 2018. L&I found Sandoval filed paperwork that stated only nine workers were employed on the project, and that Sandoval did not file other required payroll records. The 25 workers are owed between $20 and $9,500 each, depending on how long they worked on the project.

“Sandoval deliberately tried to circumvent record-keeping rules and cut corners in paying his workers,” Christensen said. “He issued checks that bounced, also leaving employees faced with paying bank fees.”

The Valhalla Apartment Project, on Martin Luther King Jr. Way in the Hilltop Neighborhood, includes retail space. RAFN Company was the prime contractor.

The state’s prevailing wage law is triggered when construction projects use public funds. The law covers workers on schools, roads, and other types of public projects. L&I enforces the law, which protects workers from substandard earnings and preserves local wage standards. The law also ensures contractors have a level playing field when bidding on public projects.


Highway 99 Tunnel Subcontractor Owes Workers More Than $370,000 in Unpaid Wages

A company hired to dispose of dirt from the Highway 99 tunnel project through Seattle has been cited by the state Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) for underpaying workers by more than $370,000.

Glacier Northwest contracted with Seattle Tunnel Partners (STP), the public project’s prime contractor, for an estimated $28 million. Glacier disposed of dirt and other materials excavated by Bertha, the tunnel-boring machine. Glacier and STP recently appealed the citation.

This was the only project that the Glacier Northwest disposal site was accepting dirt from, so L&I was able to identify the specific workers and hours worked. Because the tunnel is a public works project, those workers are entitled to prevailing wages, which they did not get.

“Many workers aren’t aware of the specific wages they must be paid when working on public projects like this one,” said Jim Christensen, L&I’s Prevailing Wage Program manager. “The law is clear in this case: The use of public funds means Glacier has the responsibility of paying proper prevailing wages.”

L&I enforces the state’s prevailing wage law, which protects workers by setting wages for specific work. The law helps ensure that contractors have a level playing field when bidding on public projects.

Some workers owed thousands
The L&I investigation found that Glacier Northwest owes 46 employees approximately $370,600 for their work spreading an estimated 2.2 million tons of dirt at the former Mats Mats Quarry near Port Ludlow. They were paid $27.69–$31.34 per hour but should have received $49.48 per hour running cranes, skid loaders, dump trucks, dozers, and excavators.

The amount owed to individual workers depends on how long they worked; it ranges from nearly $90 to more than $30,500.

Work at the disposal site involved setting and operating two floating cranes to offload hundreds of barges, all carrying dirt from the Highway 99 tunnel project. The dirt was then moved to the quarry using conveyors, trucks and other equipment. The contract precluded dirt from any other project to be dumped at the location.

In 2018, L&I industrial relations agents investigated and closed 300 cases involving the payment of prevailing wages and returned $1,461,452 to workers.

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