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Workers building a new Veterans Affairs clinic in Florida got shorted $224,000

Miami Herald - 11/14/2023

Two companies working on the construction of a new Veterans Affairs clinic in Daytona Beach shorted employees a combined $224,113 in pay and benefits by violating two laws covering federal construction, the U.S. Department of Labor announced.

Cash and benefits that should have gone to 29 employees of EBP Electric Services, run out of Plant City by company president Edgar Barriga Ponce, accounted for $181,384. The remaining $42,729 should have gone to eight workers employed by M.C.A Communications.

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As with any federal construction work over $2,000, the building of the VA clinic at 1776 N. Williamson Blvd. is covered by the Davis-Bacon and Related Acts. Under Davis-Bacon, employers working on such projects “must pay their laborers and mechanics employed under the contract no less than the locally prevailing wages and fringe benefits for corresponding work on similar projects in the area.”

The project is also covered by the Contract Work Hours and Safety Standards Act, which “requires contractors to pay laborers and mechanics, including watchpersons and guards, employed in the performance of covered contracts not less than one and one-half times their basic rate of pay for all hours worked over 40 in a workweek.”

Both companies, Labor’s Wage and Hour investigators found, didn’t pay the fringe benefits and prevailing wages as Davis-Bacon demands. M.C.A used the lower rate to calculate overtime pay, resulting in another violation. EBP didn’t track or pay sick time, Labor said.

M.C.A. Communications, a national telecommunications contractor based in Houston, didn’t answer an email from the Miami Herald. Efforts to reach Ponce weren’t successful. Online records say he reinstated EBP’s state registration in December 2021. A contractor’s license search for EBP with the Department of Business and Professional Regulation turns up only a license for Lakeland contractor Eric Hall.

“Employers and workers can contact our office to learn about their obligations and rights under the law or attend any of our upcoming online compliance seminars,” Wage and Hour Division Deputy Regional Administrator Wildalí De Jesús said. “These violations are avoidable.”

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