State Recovers $130,367 in Prevailing Wages

October 31, 2016, 1:55 PM HST · Updated October 31, 1:57 PM
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State seal. Photo by Wendy Osher.

State seal. Photo by Wendy Osher.

The state has assessed fines in excess $143,000 to a subcontractor that worked on the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo College of Hawaiian Language Building construction project.

The most costly of the violations involved underpaying construction workers by misclassifying them as apprentices, and paying lower apprentice wages, with no registered apprenticeship in evidence, according to information released today by the Hawaiʻi State Department of Labor & Industrial Relations.

The fines were assessed against Tradewind Plastering and Drywall, Inc. and included an estimated $130,367 for wages owed to construction workers, with $13,037 added for penalties.

Tradewind Plastering and Drywall, Inc. was a subcontractor of Jacobsen Construction Co., Inc.

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“Our State prevailing wage law intends that all construction contractors bid on a “level playing field” with regard to labor costs,” said DLIR Director Linda Chu Takayama. “Bids are to be won because of better, more efficient contracting methods, rather than by pushing down the standard of living for Hawaiʻi’s workers.”

Director Takayama explained, “This is a different sort of misclassification from the case at the presumptive Holiday Inn Express at the Maile Sky Court. In that case, workers were wrongly misclassified as independent contractors, and protections and benefits required for employees were not provided. In this case, workers were classified as lower paid apprentices, but there was no registered apprenticeship. In both types of cases, law-abiding bidders face unfair competition, and the workers lose.”

DLIR also notes that it recently recovered wages for hair salon workers who were paid nothing for work performed. They were labelled as apprentices, and kept off-the-books for employment purposes. DLIR has been working with the Hawaiʻi State Department of Commerce and Consumer affairs to educate salon owners and workers on the matter.

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