AGC protests proposed prevailing-wage enforcement strategy


L&I is considering a proposal from REBOUND, a building trades group, to significantly alter the way in which the department enforces prevailing-wage laws and the potential penalties for non-compliance.

“AGC agrees with L&I’s stated goals and approach to advancing common-sense enforcement strategies that are collaboratively reached and in accordance with all applicable regulations,” said AGC Chief Lobbyist Jerry VanderWood in a comment letter drafted with the help of Lindsay Watkins and Scott MacDonald of Ahlers Cressman & Sleight PLLC. “REBOUND’s proposal, however, goes far beyond what is justified by the results of the current enforcement regime, deprives contractors of their due process rights, and repeatedly demands that L&I exceed its statutory grant of authority.“

Among other concerns raised by AGC, REBOUND’s proposal implements a “layering” strategy, in which violations of prevailing-wage statutes are lumped together in a single category and can be compounded with violations of the Responsible Bidder requirements and other non-prevailing wage rules. This, however, exceeds the statutory grant of authority given to L&I by the Washington Legislature.

REBOUND’s proposal also attempts to create rigid enforcement regimes to penalize the actions of a minute subset of contractors. Current law says, “The civil penalty and sanctions under this subsection shall not apply to a violation determined by the director to be an inadvertent filing or reporting error.” This discretion is critical in avoiding imposing penalties and sanctions unwarranted by the violation. The proposal, however, could potentially result in drastic penalties or sanctions (including debarment) regardless of the nature or scale of the violation.

AGC notes that L&I has only recently revamped its prevailing-wage enforcement strategy and new prevailing-wage training requirements for less-experienced contractors, as required by legislation supported by AGC, takes effect in 2019. “REBOUND’s proposal represents a drastic step toward rigid enforcement utilizing significant L&I resources, potentially more than feasible for L&I, without having allowed L&I’s most recent enforcement mechanisms nor the new training requirements to bear themselves out,” VanderWood said.
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For more information, contact AGC Chief Lobbyist Jerry VanderWood, 360.352.5000.