Oct 30, 2015
As the enforcer of Denver’s Prevailing and Living Wage ordinances, Auditor Timothy M. O’Brien, CPA, wants to make sure workers on City and County of Denver projects get the wages to which they are entitled.
Every year the City and County of Denver hires dozens of contractors to build new structures at Denver International Airport and other locations, repair roads and bridges, pave alleys, maintain parks and clean City offices. The amount of these contracts reaches into the hundreds of millions of dollars. Denver City Council and the Mayor long ago determined that if workers were hired with City dollars, they should be paid fairly. They passed ordinances mandating payment of prevailing wages and prevailing fringe benefits for such work, with the Denver Auditor’s office responsible for enforcement. The Federal government already had in place the Davis-Bacon Act, which mandates the same thing for Federal construction projects over a certain size. For a number of jobs, the U.S. Department of Labor issues prevailing rates that are then adopted by Denver’s Office of Human Resources (OHR) and the Career Service Board. For jobs not covered by Davis-Bacon, OHR does its own survey using methodology similar to Davis-Bacon. For example, if a worker is performing plumbing work, he or she must be paid as a plumber, not as a laborer. Rates for plumbers in New York City differ from those in Denver, so the prevailing wage differs from location to location.
The Auditor’s Prevailing Wage division reviews payrolls and job classifications of contractors who perform City work such as construction and janitorial services. When the Prevailing Wage investigators find that a worker wasn’t properly paid, the worker’s employer issues a supplemental check for back wages.
“Denver’s Prevailing and Living wage ordinances ensure that City contractors compete on quality, not on who can pay their workers the least. These ordinances, and the work of our office, prevent a “race to the bottom” on wages,” observed Auditor O’Brien. “Without the enforcement of the Auditor’s Prevailing Wage division, those ordinances might be just words on a page. We make sure the appropriate dollars end up in the workers’ paychecks, where they belong.”
While the Auditor’s Prevailing Wage division diligently tries to locate the workers to get them their back pay checks, it has been unable to find some of them. Consequently, the Auditor’s office is placing ads in Sunday’s Denver Post through November to try to locate the workers who are owed back wages.
“By the time an investigation from our office results in back pay, the job is often over and workers have moved on to new jobs or even different parts of the country,” explained Jeffrey A. Garcia, the Auditor’s Director of Contracts and Accountability. “We want to leave no stone unturned in trying to get the appropriate pay to these workers. Now, the Auditor’s office is trying to use the media to help us locate them.”
The names of the workers are reproduced below. To claim their checks, they must call the Auditor’s office at 720-913-5000, and provide their Social Security numbers. People who have worked on City jobs should also check the regularly-updated “Prevailing Wage” section of the Auditor’s website.