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Apr
2013
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Seven Contractors Smacked with $300,000 in Fines Stemming from Prevailing Wage Violations

In California, seven contractors have been fined a total of $313,705 for failing to pay the prevailing wage on work done to expand a highway near the new Wal-Mart in Kerman.

Valley Vanguard Properties Inc. is the general contractor on the project where subcontractors include Barracuda Construction Inc., Fresno Prestige Electric Corp. and Safety Network Inc., Fresno Davis & Roberts Construction Inc., Clovis Kerman Telephone Co., Kerman R&L Gibbs Construction, and Squaw Valley. In a statement, California Department of Industrial Relations Director Christine Baker said:

“Developers and contractors in California should be aware that public works laws maybe triggered when a project requires work on state roads or highways as a condition of the project’s construction approval.

The $313,705 penalty includes $263,000 in back wages, $46,000 in penalties for violations of labor law and $4,300 in contributions to training funds. Valley Vanguard was chosen to be the prime contractor on the project, the goal of which is to widen the highway from two to four lanes to alleviate traffic congestion. Although this project is being privately funded, prevailing wages are mandated due to the road work. California labor Commissioner Julie Su said explains:

“If a project with private funding requires a Caltrans encroachment permit, the private funding cannot be used to avoid public works laws and the requirement to pay workers prevailing wages…”

The Fresno Bee suggests this wage issue is the latest in a long string of difficulties facing the Wal-Mart store:

The project has been fraught with controversy since Walmart first announced plans in 2009. At one point, the retail giant supported a ballot drive that would have taken the decision out of the hands of the Kerman City Council. But the council voted in April 2011 to approve the project rather than shoulder the expense of holding a special election that would have let voters decide the store’s fate.

The California DIR first received a complaint about the wages over a year ago in February of 2012.

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