In addition to the bad news National Carpentery received from the Massachusetts Attorney General??s office, National Carpentry is facing charges of wage fraud in Connecticut, according to an article in the Stamford Advocate. Company head John Kirk was arrested and arraigned on 20 counts of cheating day laborers out of wages on two projects in Stamford.
"He's the poster child of how not to do business in the state of Connecticut," said Gary Pechie, director of the state labor department's Wage and Workplace Standards Division.
The Massachusetts Attorney General??s Office today ordered five contractors to pay a total of more than $36,000 in fines and restitution for violation wage and hour laws and misclassifying workers as independent contractors. The violations all occurred on sites where the companies were working for AvalonBay Communities, Inc. The projects involved were in Lexington, Woburn and Hingham, Massachusetts.
AMC Building Construction LLC of Thorndike, MA agreed to pay a citation for violating laws regarding misclassification at the Lexington AvalonBay site. They have also agreed to a compliance plan with the Attorney Gernal??s office that allows the AG to monitor operations to ensure compliance.
National Carpentry Contractors, which has been based in Connecticut and Tennessee was cited for misclassification and failing to provide pay stubs. Their violations were found on AvalonBay sites in Woburn and Lexington, Massachusetts.
DaVinci Construction Company has also agreed to a compliance plan with the Attorney General??s office. After investigation of their practices at the AvalonBay project in Lexington. F.A. Construction of Revere was cited for violations at the Lexington Project. C&K Subcontractors of Fairfax, Virginia was cited for failing to provide records for inspection in regards to their work on the Hingham job.
The investigation was the result of a referral given to the Governor??s Joint Task Force on the Underground Economy and Employee Misclassification.
AvalonBay has long been under scrutiny for the way subcontractors on their sites conduct business. In late 2006, OSHA levied massive fines for safety violations on several cites in the region, but then rescinded them. Only months later, a worker on the Woburn site was killed in a fall resulting from dangerous conditions similar to the ones that had earned the fines.
The rash of investigations and prosecutions of employers who don't pay workers seems to indicate their may be a need for union representation for workers. (That's not a typo, we're not talking about employers not paying workers as much as we think they should, we mean workers are out there not getting paid for their work.)
The move by the Bush administration toward "voluntary compliance" with safety standards on job sites might have increased the need for someone to make sure employers allowed workers to work safe.
The decline in retirement programs in the public sector and the reckless handling of pension funds by companies, leaving workers with nothing when they retire, could be fought if more workers had the security of pension funds negotiated and administered jointly by labor and management.
The sacrifice of high school vocation programs on the alter of school budget discipline and the feeling that construction is really not a skilled craft leaving union apprentice programs as not just the best, but virtually the only place for people to properly learn a trade is troubling.