Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Union Victory! Love it when workers win. 31 workers win $247,681 judgement! Thank you Carpenters local 751!

Workers from all over the country were recruited to work on building a new Holiday Inn Express in Eureka. Redwood Coast Hospitality LLC, owned by Shailesh Patel and Jayshree Patel Revocable Trust, hired general contractor Jansen Construction out of Oregon. Jansen then subcontracted construction work to PacWest Contracting LLC another Oregon outfit. Neither contractors are licenced to do business in California. Pacwest hired workers as "Independent Contractors" so they could underpay to the point that they were paid by "piecework" that could actually leave them being paid less than minimum wage. Workers were forced to use their own tools and weren't provided adequate safety equipment. And then to top it off......their checks bounced. A perfect storm of workers being ripped off.

What to do if you are that worker? Humboldt County no longer has a Labor Commissioner locally, and the closest office is in Redding. So that is not a great option. So some decided to visit the local
The United Brotherhood of Carpenters Local 751 office at the Labor Temple. Even though they were not union workers, they knew the union would protect their workers rights! And they did. The local filed a report of labor law violations against the project and won! Not only that, but another subcontractor from Oregon named Lupton Construction working on the project was fined for Cal/OSHA violations.

The investigation was conducted by the California Labor Enforcement Task Force that was formed to battle "Underground Economy." The Department of Industrial Relations release says: "Businesses operating underground generally violate those laws that are designed to protect workers and California's economy. Skirting income taxes, not carrying workers compensation insurance, failing to provide required workspace safeguards and paying employees less than what they are owed are common practices of underground businesses. These underground operations subsequently require lower overhead, giving unfair advantage to the illegal businesses over legitimate, law-abiding employers."

Now you workers! Go sign up to be union! "UNITED WE BARGAIN, DIVIDED WE BEG!"


Anonymous said...

When will marijuana workers (trimmers) unionize?

Anonymous said...

They will still save a ton of money as compared to hiring from the local union hall. They would have gotten gouged. This tiny little amount was probably figured into the bid. The union, through oits thuggery and stalling, has managed to set that project back a few months. But it will be built and the Union will say nothing about the legal status of those working there. I heard a guy talking at Kristines just 2 nights ago that was getting some free food as he is waiting for the place to open. He told the cooks, in spanish of course, that he just arrived from Mexico. They made him an omlette, a very decent thing to do for a hungry fellow. Think the union will insure thatall citizenship rules are followed? No, that wouldn't be the Liberal way.

Anonymous said...

Will they actually see any money or will the builder simply file for bankruptcy?

Anonymous said...

"Henchman Of Justice" says,

Unfortunately, Richard, since you know near nothing of the construction industry (as evidenced by your reaction to this "misleading news story by public agencies"), here is some pointers.

#1) Clearly, the issuing permit agency, Eureka Building Department, knew who the General Contractor was going to be. Part of the local scam is to wait, then pounce.

#2) Clearly building inspectors from the city of Eureka knew what was-up. Again, wait and pounce. Afterall, Eureka wants a completed project, not one where the project is forced to stop "red tagged".

#3) Being from Oregon, anyone who knows anything would have FIRST ensured legal status to contract and sub-contract. Again, Eureka Building Department.

#4) If a person labels themself as an IC, and seeks employemnt through a General, even though it is the General's repsonsibility to ensure legality, to say that the IC worker is being manipulated, ripped-off, etc.... as a way to recruit union membership speaks more to the deception of this issue than the sincerity of union supporters. Hard to believe that-all-of-a-sudden the IC now feels taken advantage of when the IC was complicit to begin with, but as you know quite well and thoroughly, the public agency needs tools to go against the General - same as using informants or getting those guilty to turn on each other in exchange for leniancy.

Anything one reads about labor laws must be taken with a grain of salt until all facts are known and tactics exposed.

This issue is like a clear cut of a forrest without a timber harvest plan - after the fines, penalties and such, the business still came out better financially and socially, despite the negative headlines.

The ironic thing is that while HOJ drove by this jobsite a few times, HOJ wondered if it was going to get "tagged".

Guess what, it got tagged!