LA City Council Seeks Crackdown on Contracted Companies Underpaying Workers

LOS ANGELES (CNS) – Citing an instance in which a company contracted by the city failed to pay its workers overtime, the Los Angeles City Council unanimously passed a motion today aimed at strengthening enforcement of its prevailing wage laws.

According to the motion, the Bureau of Contract Administration discovered a large contractor with more than 33,000 employees that was awarded “numerous public works contracts” repeatedly required employees to work uncompensated overtime. According to the bureau, the company performed electrical work on 19 projects between March 2, 2015, and Feb. 22, 2021.

“Companies like this sometimes bid, and they underbid, because they know they’re going to be able to cheat the system by paying their workers less, having them come in two hours earlier or leave two hours late, which, you know, completely circumvents all of our prevailing wage laws and allows them to do the work for cheaper, to underbid and essentially rip us off as a city,” Councilman Bob Blumenfield said before the vote Wednesday.

Blumenfield, who introduced the motion, said other companies have the same practice and do not get caught, calling the electrical company example outrageous but not unusual.

The motion passed by the City Council on Wednesday instructs the Bureau of Contract Administration to “aggressively” pursue and impose the maximum penalty for companies that violate the prevailing wage laws.

The bureau was also instructed to report back on efforts to implement an enforcement plan to find companies that may not be following the wage laws. Blumenfield said the model would use data analysis to identify contractors that should be audited instead of relying on complaints.

“There are other companies doing the same thing and absent complaints, we haven’t been able to go after them. So this motion also creates a system where we can do these kinds of audits, where the data is showing us that this might be happening and we can protect our workers,” Blumenfield said.

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