N.M. construction workers benefit from settlement

Nick Rees Oct. 6, 2009, 4:34pm


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (Legal Newsline) - Thirty-seven construction workers in Farmington, N.M., will receive funds from a settlement totaling $236,000 from a local subcontractor who refused to pay them the prevailing wage and coerced the workers not to report the action.

The subcontractor, Martinez Acoustical Drywall, was found by the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions to have been in violation of the New Mexico Public Works Minimum Wage Act by willfully refusing to pay its workers a prevailing wage, New Mexico Attorney General Gary King said.

Martinez Acoustical Drywall, in agreeing to settle, admitted fault. The Jaynes Corporation, which was subcontracted by Martinez Acoustical Drywall and said it was not aware of the workers' wages, also agreed to the settlement without admitting to fault.

The settlement stems from additions and renovations on the McKinley Elementary School project from Oct. 2008-March 2009.

The Department of Workforce Solutions, after interviewing workers from the project, found that the workers were paid $9 per hour, far below the state law requirement that the lowest-skilled construction laborers on public projects be paid $18 per hour in salary and benefits.

The settlement includes a $100 per day per worker fine for violations of the state's prevailing wage law. Those funds, as well as back-pay and benefits will be distributed to the 37 construction workers. The workers are expected to be paid within two weeks.

Under terms of the settlement, the two subcontractors have also agreed to provide documentation to the Department of Workforce Solutions that checks have been issued to the workers.

In addition, Martinez Acoustical Drywall will be placed on administrative probation for three years following the final execution of the agreement. The probationary period requires the company to notify its workers of minimum wages and to not take any retaliatory actions against the workers in the settlement.

Any violations of the probation could result in the company being banned from contracting on any public works project.

Martinez Acoustical Drywall is also required to provide documentation of payroll records and employee contact information to the Department of Workforce Solutions.

Jaynes agreed to provide its field managers with additional training to better identify legal wage issues in the future.

More News