Industry Leaders Believe Morgenstern is 'The Man'

Specialty Contractors See Synergy with Morgenstern's Goals and State Agencies' Actions to Debar and Penalize Corrupt Contractor

Mar 15, 2011, 17:57 ET from Professional Association of Specialty Contractors (CALPASC)

SACRAMENTO, Calif., March 15, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Recently confirmed Secretary of the Labor and Workforce Development Agency, Marty Morgenstern, received strong support from professional contractors for his public comments of planned changes within the Agency. During the California Senate Rules Committee hearing, the California Professional Association of Specialty Contractors (CALPASC) stressed its support of Morgenstern's stated goals of improving inter-agency efficiencies and eliminating unfair competition as a means of leveling the playing field.

"We met with Morgenstern before the confirmation hearing and were pleased to learn of his desire to tackle underground economy violators in the name of protecting workers and supporting those businesses that are working in compliance with the state," said Brad Diede, chief operating officer, CALPASC. "Especially in this poor economy, we see more licensed (not just unlicensed) contractors flagrantly violating laws and regulations, including inadequately reporting payroll and not following safety procedures, paying workers' compensation premiums and training and certifying employees."

Further evidence of this widespread problem was seen in the California Department of Industrial Relations, Division of Apprenticeship Standards' (DIR/DAS) announcement of the debarment and issuance of $512,700 in civil penalties against Christopher J. Augusto, dba Christopher J Augusto Plumbing Company, a Marin County contractor. In May 2010, the contractor's license was revoked by the Contractors State License Board, and according to a March 14 DIR press release, the plumbing company failed to comply with the requirements for contractors on public works jobs to secure training opportunities for apprentices, breaching the terms of a settlement agreement reached in the first debarment. The company also is prohibited from bidding on or receiving any public works contracts in California until 2013.

"Unfortunately, corrupt contractors like this abound. If it is this bad in the public sector, imagine how corrupt it is in the private sector without government tracking/monitoring systems," stressed Diede. "This is a prime example of how Morgenstern can align efforts to timely catch crooks and ensure they don't get further work, especially in the public sector."

In a March 11 letter to the governor, CALPASC, as the leader of a construction enforcement coalition representing employers, businesses, associations and labor representatives, reinforced its support of Morgenstern and emphasized two key points discussed with the Secretary. The first underscored the need for resources to more efficiently coordinate efforts for construction enforcement. The second stressed the need to exempt from the state hiring freeze those vacant or unfilled positions relating to field enforcement in construction and that are funded outside of the state general fund.

"Through efficiency and allocating resources in the manner we have suggested," said Diede. "Secretary Morgenstern can topple the construction underground economy while positively contributing to California's budget."  

Because of the number of hardships created by the underground economy, CALPASC initiated the LEVEL Program to work with state departments and agencies to improve construction enforcement, eliminate unnecessary laws and regulations, ensure the right resources are allocated to the right agencies and level the playing field for law-abiding construction contractors.

The California Professional Association of Specialty Contractors is a nonprofit 501(c)6 trade association advocating on behalf of trade contractors and suppliers of building materials in California. CALPASC is committed to educating members on complex issues and advancing safety and compliance within the building industry.

SOURCE Professional Association of Specialty Contractors (CALPASC)