California Professional Contractors Applaud Stricter Legal Enforcement to Rein in Violators

Jun 16, 2010, 11:55 ET from California Professional Association of Specialty Contractors

SACRAMENTO, Calif., June 16 /PRNewswire/ -- The California Professional Association of Specialty Contractors (CALPASC) reacted strongly in support of the California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) and the Labor Commissioner for their enforcement efforts.  "Owners, builders and general contractors too often are not held responsible for taking bids from unscrupulous contractors for five to 50 percent below cost.  These unfair bidders don't follow important wage and safety laws," says Brad Diede, CEO of CALPASC.  "Without effective enforcement, professional contractors operate at a distinct competitive disadvantage against contractors who don't care about worker safety and properly paying their employees."

California State Labor Commissioner Angela Bradstreet understands this enormous problem.  Last week, she ordered framing contractor Russell/Thompson, Inc. to pay $1.3 million in wages and $200,000 in fines for failure to pay 74 employees proper wages for their work at the Tercero Housing Project at the University of California, Davis.  UC Davis hired Brown Construction, Inc. as the general contractor, who, in turn, contracted with 84 Lumber, Inc. for the framing work.  84 Lumber, Inc. subcontracted to Russell/Thompson, Inc. who actually performed the work. 

According to Bradstreet, the California State Labor Commission believes the employer intentionally underpaid its workers, robbing employees of the money they earned and hurting other contractors choosing to do the right thing and complying with the law. 

An investigation by DIR's Division of Labor Standards Enforcement uncovered evidence that established Russell/Thompson, Inc. willfully violated the law by failing to pay prevailing wages on a public works project.  Russell/Thompson, Inc. falsified payroll records, failed to pay overtime and misclassified workers at lower-paying positions rather than the higher-rate skilled positions they worked.  The Labor Commissioner also served a civil wage and penalty assessment against Brown Construction, Inc. and 84 Lumber, Inc.

Diede agrees, "The system of enforcement is broken.  If offenders are not severely and immediately punished, they will win, but at the expense of professional trade contractors who ensure safe working conditions and quality construction, follow laws and properly pay employees.  We cannot afford to let this happen!"

CALPASC is a nonprofit 501 C6 trade association advocating on behalf of trade contractors and suppliers of building materials in California.  To learn more about CALPASC, visit the

Web site at or call 916-973-2925.

SOURCE California Professional Association of Specialty Contractors