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|Articles - September 2011|
|Wednesday, August 24, 2011|
Page 3 of 5
At the first job site Sanchez visits, a Latino worker tells him he doesn’t know who he works for, but he is happy to be earning $15 an hour. At the second site the supervisor politely denies Sanchez access. At the third site, the foreman changes his story suspiciously. First the foreman says the workers are paid by the square foot; then he says they are paid by the hour, and claims not to know how much his own workers are getting paid.
Sanchez jots down details when he returns to his vehicle: the name of the supervisor, the subcontractors on site, how long the job is expected to last, the workers he spoke with and what they said. He never asks about immigration status. “It’s not something we ever ask about,” says his colleague Evelyn Shapiro-O’Connor, who helped train Sanchez and conducts similar investigations in Seattle. “The law says the workers deserve to get paid if they do the work. That’s not an immigration issue.”
Later, Sanchez’s notes will get entered into a union database that tracks the industry. “We know about every job that’s going on,” Sanchez says as he drives from an apartment in Northwest Portland to a shopping center in Beaverton.
At each site Sanchez hands out business cards to supervisors and workers alike. “You never know what will happen to those cards,” he says. One time his card found its way to a worker who was making low wages building a new school. The worker contacted Sanchez under a false name at first, then got back to him later using his real name, and eventually went through BOLI to collect $30,000 in back wages for his crew. It turned out that the subcontractor was charging “prevailing wages” of over $40 per hour for the publicly financed job but paying workers far less.
Often acting on union tips, BOLI has conducted more than 1,000 investigations into alleged prevailing wage rate fraud since 2005, and collected more than $5.8 million in back wages. Brad Avakian, who has served as commissioner of BOLI since 2008, says most labor law violations occur within industries that employ many immigrant workers such as construction. “A lot of these folks don’t have a network of support, and it’s very easy for employers to take advantage of them,” says Avakian. “It’s a real problem, and the millions of dollars that we collect in back wages for workers proves that it’s a problem.”
Thursday, June 12, 2014
BY ANDREA DURBIN | OB GUEST BLOGGER
Last week, the Obama administration took an important and welcomed step in the effort to protect the health and well-being of all Oregonians by limiting carbon pollution from existing power plants.
Thursday, June 26, 2014
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How to build a hipster-friendly work environment.
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BY TERRY "STARBUCKER" ST. MARIE
I really didn’t know that much about angel investing, but I did know a lot about the entrepreneurial spirit.
Thursday, June 19, 2014
BY MONICA ENAND | GUEST CONTRIBUTOR
Nine tips for building habits among employees to respond when needed.
Thursday, June 26, 2014
BY ERIC FRUTS | OB BLOGGER
Last year, the housing market in Oregon—and the U.S. as a whole—was blasting off. The Case-Shiller index of home prices ended the year 13% higher than at the beginning of the year. But, was last year a blip, or a trend?
Tuesday, July 08, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR
The New Yorker recently published a sharply worded critique of “disruptive innovation,” one of the most widely cited theories in the business world today. The article raises questions about the descriptive value of disruption and innovation — whether the terms are mere buzzwords or actually explain today's extraordinarily complex and fast changing business environment.
Update: We caught up with Portland's Thomas Thurston, who shared his data driven take on the disruption controversy.
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