IR #99-07
Thursday, July 29, 1998

Dean Fryer
(415) 703-5050

W.S.B. Electric Debarred for Prevailing Wage Violations

SAN FRANCISCO -- The California Department of Industrial Relations has issued a final debarment order against W.S.B. Electric, Inc. for 11 willful violations of the prevailing wage laws on three separate public works projects within the past three years. The debarment is the first to be done by the department's Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) since Labor Commissioner Marcy Saunders took office earlier this year. Debarment proceedings against several other companies are currently pending.

"I made a promise when I took office that I would make full use of our enforcement authority to protect California workers and to ensure that all employers compete on a level playing field, and that is exactly what I am doing," said Saunders. "Under the California Labor Code, debarment is one of the strongest enforcement tools that we have and I will continue to use it against contractors who have blatantly and repeatedly violated California prevailing wage laws."

In a stipulation, Kenneth Mark Williams, president of W.S.B. Electric, agreed to immediately stop bidding on, accepting, or performing any prevailing wage contracts for a period of three years except for six current projects for which W.S.B. Electric must cease work on by September 1. Williams also agreed to pay DLSE a penalty of $50,000.

DLSE charged W.S.B. Electric with submitting falsified payroll records and underpaying employees on the Upgrade of Laguna Sub-Regional Water Reclamation in Santa Rosa, the West Pittsburg BART station and the Cal-Trans San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge Video Project. Also, W.S.B. Electric was accused of failing to make payments to the employees' pension fund while it was simultaneously taking credits for such payments.

"This is the first time that debarment has been used against a contractor who was actually bidding or working on prevailing wage projects and that actually removes the contractor from completing ongoing projects," said Miles Locker, chief counsel for the labor commissioner. "This is intended to send a strong message to contractors who, in the past, have violated prevailing wage laws without fear of consequences. Those days are over."

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