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Jul
2011
19

Former City Councilman Fleeced Texans After Hurricane Ike, Now Paying $105,000 In Back Wages



The United States Department of Labor has recovered $105,000 in back wages for 57 workers in Anahuac, TX who had been denied overtime compensation. The discovery of violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) followed an investigation by the department’s Wage and Hour Division. The workers were employed by Cecil Parker Jr., the owner of a debris cleanup company in Anahuac.

Here’s where the story gets a little fishy. Cecil Parker, Jr. is also a former Mt. Belvieu city councilman who was in no way involved in the debris cleanup business until Hurricane Ike. Parker previously had no standing contract with FEMA. However, after Hurricane Ike, when help was needed most, Parker and his friend, Chambers County Judge Jimmy Sylvia, used the tragedy to fleece FEMA and make themselves $22 million.

There is no transparency in the case because there is no record of any votes or meetings leading up to the contracts being issued. While the two good old boys giggled and counted their loot, hard workers worked 10 hour days trying to help their neighbors by clearing the path of destruction that had been left by Hurricane Ike.

Now it has come to light that Parker misclassified workers as independent contractors which allowed him to pay them “straight time” wages and not the time and one-half for hours worked over 40 in a week, as required under the FLSA. Parker has since corrected the pay problem and paid the $105,000 in back wages but seems to show no remorse for his illicit behavior. While people were surveying their former houses and seeing if anything was left to salvage, Parker sought profit. And he’s not ashamed:

In this story, originally aired by ABC 13 in Houston, Parker is asked by reporter Wayne Dolcefino if Hurricane Ike was a goldmine for him. His response? “Yeah it was.”

Seeing creative new ways they could cash in on their neighbors’ misery, Parker went and bought himself some land two months after the Hurricane. Later, when Judge Sylvia was given a list of places to host a FEMA Temporary Housing Camp, he went maverick and found 90 acres on Posey Lane that had not been suggested. The owner would receive $10,000 a month rent for one year. The property was never built on but the owner still got to keep the $120,000. The owner was…you guessed it…Cecil Parker, Jr.

Imagine that. Naturally, when Judge Sylvia ran for re-election, one of his biggest contributors was Cecil Parker, Jr.

Per a press release on the wage violations:

Cynthia Watson, regional administrator of the Wage and Hour Division in the Southwest. “Parker’s employees worked 10-hour days, operating heavy equipment and performing strenuous labor, to remove millions of yards of storm debris. We are pleased that these employees, whom Parker had misclassified as independent contractors and denied fair wages, now will be properly compensated for all hours of their hard work.”

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2 Comments on “Former City Councilman Fleeced Texans After Hurricane Ike, Now Paying $105,000 In Back Wages”

  1. […] leading to wage theft isn’t the only shady deal going on here, but at least these workers got back pay: The United […]

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