Viking Village pool workers to get back pay

From the Cincinnati Enquirer:

by Fatima Hussein

More than 20 pipefitters and bricklayers constructing the Viking Village Shared Facility Pool in Sharonville will recover a total of $147,000 in back wages and benefits following an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division.

Federal investigators found Kitchener, Ontario-based Gall Construction of America LTD, operating as Acapulco Pools, underpaid 21 workers up to $17 per hour in salary and benefits.

The company violated provisions of the Davis-Bacon and Related Acts, which cover areas of prevailing wage laws and the Contract Work Hours and Safety Standards Act, which govern wage rates for projects receiving federal funds, the labor department said.

In a news release, the department said it determined the company had classified the bricklayers and other workers as general laborers and failed to pay them prevailing wages, fringe benefits and overtime at the rate due for their job titles.

Gall failed to keep accurate time and payroll records for employees, according to the findings. The company agreed to pay the workers money owed in back wages and benefits.

“When companies fail to follow the guidelines to which they agree when bidding a federal contract, they gain an unfair advantage,” said George Victory, director of the Wage and Hour Division’s Columbus District Office. “The payment of these hard-earned back wages will make a big difference in the lives of these workers and their families.”

The pool construction was funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Gall Construction was the project’s prime contractor. Company officials were not available for comment.

"Cases like this happen fairly often," said Brennan Grayson, director of the Cincinnati Interfaith Workers Center. Grayson's group led the charge to convince City Hall to adopt a citywide wage theft ordinance, which it adopted in February.

"It takes community effort to make sure laws like these are enforced," Grayson said. According to Grayson, the Interfaith Workers Center performed initial interviews with the Gail workers; many were primarily Spanish-speaking, he said.

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