Thursday, 2 May 2013

Lamar Construction Violates Kentucky Wage Theft Laws

SOURCE The Workers Freedom Coalition

The Workers Freedom Coalition (WFC) and striking workers from Lamar Construction celebrate a major victory in their fight to make Lamar accountable for mistreatment of its employees.

Workers have been on strike over conditions on the job since 2011. Among other things, Lamar Construction employees have been struggling against labor violations, discrimination, unsafe working conditions, and wage theft by the company. It is that last item, however, which has the workers celebrating.

The Kentucky Labor Cabinet recently made a determination against Lamar Construction, a Hudsonville, Michigan based General Contractor specializing in structural steel and pre-cast concrete erection.

Nearly a year ago, the workers assisted by the WFC began fighting to address the wage theft they saw happening at Lamar. Lamar striking worker and WFC member, Robert Andree stated, "I knew that the company had been stiffing me on my paychecks—the numbers just weren't right. I started talking to some coworkers about my concerns. That's how this whole thing started." One of those coworkers was already in the midst of a lawsuit against Lamar—alleging Lamar had been cheating workers out of overtime pay. The result: The State of Kentucky initiated a wage theft investigation, which concluded with the determination that Lamar violated wage theft laws on a state-wide basis. The state sent out letters notifying affected Lamar employees two weeks ago.

Jose Perez , a Lamar employee seriously injured on the job and member of the WFC, received his letter last week. Perez stated, "This letter is an affirmation that what we [the WFC] are doing is making a difference for ourselves and our coworkers. Sometimes it's hard when, you know, nobody really wants to listen."

Perez, Andree and other members of the WFC have been visiting area contractors, architects and project owners to tell their story. "Some companies don't want to listen to us telling them the way it is" said Andree. "This is huge for us--it's just one more piece of proof confirming what we've said all along."

Despite this victory, the WFC doesn't see it as the end of the struggle. A grinning Andree said, "We're really happy we've been able to get back some of what Lamar took from their employees, but we aren't going to back off. Until Lamar makes real and lasting changes for its employees we'll be here, shining a spotlight on all those dark places the company wants to keep hidden."

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