Bellevue-based Quality Construction has had its contractor license suspended and is barred from seeking future public works contracts after the state found it stiffed workers for $142,500.
Quality Construction is owned by Adela Garcia and is registered to a Bellevue address with a second location in Des Moines. The company came under scrutiny from the Washington state Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) in 2015 when the department launched an investigation into the company. Quality Construction worked on two public school projects and paid carpenters apprentice wages. However, none of the 27 carpenters were listed with the state as apprentices, so state law mandates they must be paid as journeymen, said Matthew Erlich, a spokesperson for L&I.
“That’s a major problem, so we found as a result of our investigation, in all more than $140,000 was owed,” he said.
Contractors who bid on public works projects are required to pay prevailing wage, which for a journeyman carpenter is $52.32 an hour. Apprentice wages are sit significantly lower at $31.35 an hour. In addition to underpaying its workers, the company also falsified documents detailing how much money they intended to spend and on their final bills. Requiring contractors to pay prevailing wages helps ensure contractors are on a level playing field when bidding on contracts. If a company offers a low bid because they’re underpaying their workers, that puts other contractors at a disadvantage.
“Most companies do the right thing and that’s important to emphasize, and there are some cases where it goes beyond our trying to educate them about, especially prevailing wage law,” Erlich said. “The fact is, there were repeated violations that showed, as it said in the press release, it wasn’t just a mistake of filing paperwork.”
The instances cited in the L&I press release include work Quality Construction completed as a subcontractor for the Sunny Hills Elementary School in Issaquah for Cornerstone General Contractors Inc. based out of Bothell, and Seattle’s Arbor Heights Elementary School for Bayley Construction of Mercer Island. Both companies were stuck with the Quality Construction’s bills to the tune of $40,500 for Cornerstone General Contractors and $102,000 for Bayley Construction.
“They should get credit for stepping up and fixing the problem,” Erlich said.
No appeal has been filed by Quality Construction, Erlich said. According to the L&I website, Quality Construction held a contractors license since 2014 until it was suspended. It has had various complaints lodged against it, including one where Quality Construction was marketing itself as a contractor while not being registered as a contractor. Quality Construction must additionally pay more than $40,000 in penalties to the state.
The Reporter couldn’t locate Quality Construction for a comment.