CALPASC Continues Pushing For Investigative Clean-Up Of Construction Industry
SACRAMENTO, Calif., Aug. 2, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — For months, the California Professional Association of Specialty Contractors (CALPASC) has been pushing for coordination of state agencies to clean up the underground economy. As reported earlier, the creation of the Criminal Investigation Unit (CIU), under the Department of Industrial Relations’ Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE), focused on “raising the stakes for those who underpay, underbid and under-report in violation of the law.” The intent behind the CIU is to train staff on appropriately investigating and identifying possible criminal violations in the industry. The focus on “digging deeper” continues to be welcomed by California’s specialty contractors who recognize the need to put significant efforts into breaking up the underground economy that, according to media reports, is costing California about $7 to $8 billion annually in lost tax revenue. “We know it’s not easy to reign in the cheaters given their level of sophistication,” said CALPASC Executive Director Brad Diede. “When you read about the complexity of the $70 million “cheat-to-compete” scheme reported about workers’ compensation fraud and money laundering in Florida, it’s not hard to understand the need for thorough and appropriate investigation efforts to catch perpetrators, and we believe the DLSE and California’s Labor Commissioner are committed to doing this.”
During the last week in July, CALPASC participated in a construction enforcement coalition meeting, which continued to focus on the need for and role of investigative efforts. Representatives from employers, businesses, associations and labor heard from a number of enforcement agencies, including DLSE, the Orange County District Attorney (OCDA) investigators, the Labor Commissioner, the Riverside County investigators, the Department of Insurance (DIR) and the Contractors State License Board. The Commissioner indicated “more resources are going toward construction than any other industry” but because there is not enough staff, “training of existing staff is important” particularly on the correct protocol of digging deeper around duplicitous acts.
“We have pushed for a focus on investigations of flagrant violators versus compliant contractors, and the Labor Commissioner and other DIR chiefs acknowledge that training and accountability of staff is something they are continuing to work on,” said Diede. “The various agencies have indicated a real willingness to listen to us on how efforts are playing out in the field and to consider ideas we advance for overall enforcement improvement.”
As part of the overall efforts, DLSE is trying to educate employers on how to strengthen compliance with California laws. OCDA developed a presentation to educate other agencies and awarding authorities on the questions to ask and information to collect when hiring a legitimate contractor. For example, OCDA suggests checking licenses throughout a project and calling previously awarding bodies to ask if they would hire contractors again and how well they performed on the jobsite.
CALPASC initiated the LEVEL Program in 2010 to urge state agencies to work closely together in catching general contractors, builders and subcontractors who intentionally violate labor and safety laws and regulations to gain an unfair advantage over law-abiding contractors.
The California Professional Association of Specialty Contractors is a nonprofit 501(c)6 trade association advocating on behalf of trade contractors and suppliers of building materials in California. CALPASC is committed to educating members on complex issues and advancing safety and compliance within the building industry.
SOURCE California Professional Association of Specialty Contractors (CALPASC)