COLUMBUS, Ohio - Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann on Monday used a recently reached prevailing wage settlement to springboard his efforts to make those laws more stringent while claiming previous attorneys general have failed to regulate businesses properly.
According to a report in Crain's Cleveland Business, while announcing a settlement with19 subcontractors, Dann said that under previous Republicans, "there's been a benign neglect" of business regulation. Republicans Betty Montgomery and Jim Petro held the office from 1995-2007.
"Businesses who follow the law are penalized," he added, according to the report. "When it becomes cheaper to cheat, there is no reason to comply with the law."
Dann alleged 19 businessses subcontracted to work on a $50 million project to remove contaminated industrial sediment from the Ashtabula River. The local laborers' union had claimed the businesses were not complying with Ohio's Prevailing Wage Law, which states employees hired for projects funded by public funds must be paid wages consistent with similar work that is funded privately.
Dann added that his focus will turn more toward potential prevailing wage violations.
"We are committed to vigorously monitoring and enforcing the rightful payments of wages to Ohio workers," the first-term Democrat said. "This settlement should serve as a wake-up call to contractors across our state. Those who seek business in Ohio and seek our dedicated, loyal and hardworking employees is required to pay workers wages and benefits equal to or greater than the applicable prevailing wage."
The settlement provides the workers will be paid $452,855.51 in back wages and the assessment of a $113,755.10 penalty. American Environmental Group was hit hardest and will pay $177,677.
Dann said he will work closely with the Ohio Department of Commerce regarding prevailing wage violations.
"The Ohio Department of Commerce is aggressively enforcing the prevailing wage," Commerce Director Kim Zurz said. "We are pleased that this settlement insures that the workers on this project will receive the wages that they had earned."