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News Brief

Federal contractor, subcontractor to pay Oregon, Idaho forestry workers $103K in back wages, damages after wage and hour investigation

Alpha Services, Eco Group face more than $70k in penalties

Employers: Alpha Services, LLC
Eco Group, LLC

Sites: 1141 North 3rd St., Coeur d’Alene, Idaho
10936 SW Marilyn, Tualatin, Oregon

Investigation findings: The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division found that Alpha Services, violated both the Service Contract Act and Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act when the company failed to pay workers legally required wages for pruning and planting work in national forests in Oregon and Idaho. A reforestation contractor for the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, Alpha paid reforestation workers on a piece-rate basis that failed to yield at least the prevailing hourly rate required by federal law. The contractor also failed to keep accurate records of the number of hours worked by employees, providing records to investigators that showed a reduced number of hours, creating the false appearance that the piece-rate earnings covered the rates required.

Alpha Service’s labor subcontractor, Eco Group paid workers at hourly rates that fell below the prevailing wage rates required for federal government contracts covered by the SCA, and failed to pay workers required fringe benefits. Investigators found that both firms were jointly responsible for the wages found due. 

Resolution: Both firms agreed to comply with the federal labor law, and pay employees their required prevailing wages due. Alpha Services paid $66,295 to 57 employees and Eco Group paid $37,339 to 48 employees. In addition, the division has assessed civil money penalties of $59,500 against Alpha Services, and $10,600 against Eco Group for the violations found under MSPA.

Quote: “Reforestation workers regularly face language barriers, often fear stepping forward when wage or safety violations occur, and have limited access to public services since they work and live in isolated areas,” said Thomas Silva, the Wage and Hour Division’s district director in Portland. “When companies fail to pay these vulnerable workers their hard-earned wages, the Wage and Hour Division will continue to use every tool available to protect their rights. We encourage workers in similar circumstances to contact us.”  

Information: The SCA requires that contractors and subcontractors performing services on covered federal contracts in excess of $2,500 must pay their service workers no less than the wages and fringe benefits prevailing in the locality, or rates contained in a predecessor contractor’s collective bargaining agreement.

For more information about federal wage laws administered by the Wage and Hour Division, call the agency’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Information also is available at http://www.dol.gov/whd/.

Agency
Wage and Hour Division
Date
June 21, 2016
Release Number
16-1016-SAN
Contact: Leo Kay
Phone Number
Contact: Jose Carnevali