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California Contractors Praise Labor Commissioner's Office For Getting At The "Root Of The Cause"

General Contractor Taken to Task for Hiring Cheating Subcontractor

SACRAMENTO, Calif., Nov. 8, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Treating the symptom of a problem can sometimes be beneficial, but identifying the source or cause of the problem is even better. Law-abiding contractors and the California Professional Association of Specialty Contractors (CALPASC) have been urging state agencies to adopt this approach in fighting the underground economy. The California Labor Commissioner's office took this to heart as noted in a recent announcement where multiple names associated with labor law violations on a San Joaquin Delta Community College (SJDCC) public works project were revealed. According to a November media release from the Labor Commissioner's office, Nicodemus Plumbing & Mechanical (Nicodemus) was ordered to pay more than one million dollars in civil wage and penalty assessments for failing to pay proper prevailing wages and overtime to 44 employees, while purposely falsifying payroll records. The general contractor SJDCC hired for the project, Taisei Construction Corporation, also was served with a civil wage and penalty assessment by Labor Commissioner Julie A. Su for failing to ensure its plumbing contractor, Nicodemus, was in compliance. The Commissioner stressed that they "will investigate all parties responsible for labor law violations to put the proper incentive on decision-makers in construction projects to deal only with honest, law-abiding contractors."

In response to the Labor Commissioner's announcement, executives from CALPASC, the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association of California (PHCCA), the California Construction Compliance Group (CCCG) and the Air Conditioning Trade Association (ACTA) stated:

"The focus for state enforcement agencies should be on willfully non-compliant contractors as opposed to those who are unintentionally non-compliant. Clearly the enforcement agencies have done that here," said CCCG Executive Director John Loudon.

"It's unfortunate that some awarding authorities and general contractors continue to seek the lowest bid without conscience as to whether or not those low bids are in compliance. By investigating the source of the problem and publically identifying those involved, as the Labor Commissioner's office has done, legitimate contractors will have a better chance at competing within this challenging economy," commented CALPASC Director of Risk Management Bruce Wick.

"Everyone loses when state contractor laws are ignored. Legitimate contractors are driven out of business, employee and public safety go at risk, the quality of the product suffers and workers are short paid and may not be covered by workers' compensation insurance, while California loses millions in taxes. Shining a spotlight on the problem and the culprits may incentivize contractors to act within the law," stated PHCCA Executive Vice President Tracy Threlfall.

"This clearly shows there are still contractors willfully ignoring the laws and undercutting legitimate contractors who play by the rules. Although the laws can be confusing, it doesn't excuse unlawful behavior, and we commend the Labor Commissioner in tackling this problem," said ACTA Executive Director Jill Mojica.

"Too often the awarding authorities, general contractors, builders and homeowners choose unlicensed or non-compliant contractors because they are significantly cheaper, which can be an indicator of unlawful practices. A cheating contractor is like an athlete taking steroids.  He risks criminal prosecution and puts himself and others in danger just to create a competitive edge," Loudon concluded. 

SOURCE California Professional Association of Specialty Contractors (CALPASC)

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