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Contractors Reminded The Hard Way That Prevailing Wages Must Prevail On Public Works Projects

SACRAMENTO, Calif., March 28, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Recent media reports have emphasized that general contractors and subcontractors run the risk of being fined if they don't get educated or remain on alert to the possibility that public works might be attached to a project. The California Labor Commissioner recently announced fines in excess of $300,000 against a general construction contractor in Fresno, Valley Vanguard Properties, Inc., and six of its subcontractors working on "a privately funded highway expansion project with public works requirements." According to Commissioner Su's statement in the Department of Industrial Relations' (DIR) media release, "Valley Vanguard, as the prime contractor for the highway expansion project, is responsible for ensuring that all workers performing construction work on a public works project are paid the correct prevailing wage rates."

In another story reported by the Tri-Valley Times, a Dublin-based signatory electrical contractor, Harris Electric, was charged with 57 felonies for claiming in court documents that it paid employees prevailing wages when, in fact, it was paying employees lower hourly rates. According to the article, "Fremont County, Alameda County and the Port of Oakland paid Harris Electric for work based on sworn statements the company made claiming it was paying its workers the higher rate."

Brad Diede, Executive Director, California Professional Association of Specialty Contractors (CALPASC), issued the following statements:

"There are some contractors who are uneducated about how to properly conduct public works projects or they make honest mistakes. There are others who knowingly skirt the law. Either way, the saying 'ignorance of the law is no excuse' applies.

"As these two incidents demonstrate, both signatory and non-signatory contractors may be at fault in their practices. It's important that government enforcement agencies roll up their sleeves and check the trails of the cheating contractors in order to catch them.

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