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California ABC Contractor Rung Up for $225,000 in Wage-Dodging Backpay, Penalties

The Associated Builders & Contractors (ABC) spends large sums of time and money defaming unions and pursuing a pro-business agenda. Their propaganda attempts to persuade the public that union work results in higher costs to taxpayers and excludes qualified contractors and workers from public works projects. Frequently, however, when a “merit shop” (their term) project comes in under budget it does so because of underhanded behavior that goes unchecked.

Such is the case with ABC member Bobo Construction which has been forced to pay $225,00 in back wages and penalties as part of a settlement between four contractors and the California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR). In total, California Labor Commissioner Julie Su collected $610,186 in back wages and penalties on behalf of 31 workers:

“Wage theft on public works projects in California not only cheats workers of their hard-earned wages, it is a violation of the public trust,” said Labor Commissioner Julie A. Su. “These cases send a message to general contractors that they should make sure they are working with legitimate contractors who abide by the law, and my office will do everything in our power to recover unpaid wages.”

DIR Director Christine Baker echoed Su’s sentiment in a press release:

“Construction contractors are on notice that the Labor Commissioner has reinvigorated and focused her public works enforcement efforts to provide a fair and level playing field for those businesses who comply with public works requirements,”

Elk Grove based Bobo Construction acted as the general contractor on a construction project in Northern California where subcontractor Joseph Brothers Enterprise Inc. was found to have cheated its workers of prevailing wages. Chris Bobo, President of Bobo Construction, told the Sacramento Business Journal,

“We’re straight shooters,” Bobo said. “They lied on their wage reports and went under — and I was responsible,” he added. “In the recession, this was rampant. Five to eight subs we were responsible for went under and we didn’t find out about wage stuff until the jobs are over. We lost a lot of money on subs like that.”

California is setting strong precedent by holding the general contractor, in this case the ABC member Bobo, responsible for the actions of its subcontractors. Too often a general contractor is able to skirt responsibility for the companies they involve on a project, a classic buck passing.

Commissioner Su and the state of California continue to lead on the issue of wage compliance:

“In 2012, my Public Works team assessed $25 million in wages and civil penalties, the highest amount in a decade. We are going to make sure that those who break the law pay and those who comply with prevailing wage laws know that the State is on their side.”


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