Wage and Hour Division (WHD)
U.S. Department of Labor
HAGATNA, Guam -- The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division has launched an enforcement initiative focused on Guam’s construction industry to increase employer compliance and remind construction workers, including those hired under the H-2B temporary nonimmigrant worker program, of their rights under the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Davis-Bacon and Related Acts, and the Contract Work Hours and Safety Standards Act.
The initiative aims to promote sustained compliance, particularly among contractors and subcontractors working on federally funded construction projects in Guam, but also will include investigations of other construction projects. Wage and Hour Division investigators – many of whom speak Tagalog, Mandarin and other languages in addition to English – will be interviewing employees and conducting thorough reviews of employment practices, pay records and circumstances of joint employment to identify and remedy violations.
Common violations found at federally funded construction projects include misclassification of laborers and mechanics as exempt from the FLSA; a failure to pay employees for all hours worked, including for travel time and cleanup activities; a failure to pay required prevailing wages and fringe benefits (including overtime); and inadequate record-keeping of employees’ work hours and wages.
Guam is experiencing an upsurge of federally funded construction projects in preparation for the relocation of U.S. Marines from Okinawa, Japan. This relocation will be one of the largest movements of military assets in decades and requires significant infrastructure developments, including new construction and improvements to roads and highways, bridges, operational training facilities, naval facilities and other base projects such as military family housing.
“This historic military realignment and development of Guam will be made possible through the labor of thousands of local construction workers,” said Ruben Rosalez, acting administrator of the Wage and Hour Division’s Western Region. “The division is committed to ensuring that these workers are paid their rightful wages and benefits in compliance with the law. The Wage and Hour Division is pursuing a number of strategies under this enforcement initiative to ensure that taxpayer dollars are used properly on federally funded construction projects, and to promote sustained compliance with the labor standards for which the division has enforcement responsibility in Guam.”
When violations are found, the division will use all available enforcement tools – including litigation, civil money penalties, liquidated damages and debarment from future government contract opportunities – to recover workers’ wages, ensure accountability among all responsible parties and deter future violations.
Investigators also are enlisting the cooperation of local partners – including the Guam Department of Labor and the Guam Contractors’ Association – to assist the division in identifying and addressing local patterns of noncompliance. Additionally, the division is reaching out to workers, employers, industry associations, community organizations, consulates and other stakeholders to inform them of the initiative, provide compliance assistance and engage their participation in promoting industrywide accountability and compliance.
The FLSA requires that covered employees be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, as well as one and one-half times their regular rates for every hour they work beyond 40 per week. The law also requires employers to maintain accurate records of employees’ wages, hours and other conditions of employment, and prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who exercise their rights under the law.
The Davis-Bacon Act requires all contractors and subcontractors performing work on federal and certain federally funded projects to pay their laborers and mechanics proper prevailing wage rates and fringe benefits as determined by the secretary of labor. Additionally, the Contract Work Hours and Safety Standards Act requires contractors and subcontractors to pay laborers and mechanics one and one-half times their basic rates for all hours worked over 40 in a week.
The H-2B visa program permits employers to temporarily hire nonimmigrants to perform nonagricultural labor or services in the United States. Unlike in the rest of the United States and its territories, where the granting of labor certifications and the enforcement of the H-2B visa program is administered by the U.S. Department of Labor, the H-2B program is administered in Guam by the territory’s governor under U.S. Department of Homeland Security regulations. Consequently, during this initiative, the Wage and Hour Division cannot enforce the H-2B regulations found in 20 Code of Federal Regulations 655 Subpart A; however, the division recognizes that H-2B workers are particularly vulnerable and will work closely with the Guam Department of Labor to ensure that employers comply with all laws, local and federal.
For more information about federal wage laws, call the Wage and Hour Division’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243) or its Guam Field Office in Hagatna at 671-473-9178. Information also is available at http://www.dol.gov/whd.
U.S. Department of Labor releases are accessible on the Internet at www.dol.gov. The information in this news release will be made available in alternate format (large print, Braille, audio tape or disc) from the COAST office upon request. Please specify which news release when placing your request at (202) 693-7828 or TTY (202) 693-7755. The Labor Department is committed to providing America’s employers and employees with easy access to understandable information on how to comply with its laws and regulations. For more information, please visit www.dol.gov/compliance.