SPRINGFIELD – Illinois State Comptroller Susana A. Mendoza will release $870,629 to ShawneeLec, Inc., of Equality, Ill., now that the state contractor has paid back wages and fines totaling $87,522.65 for failing to pay required wages under the Illinois Prevailing Wage Act.
The act ensures working men and women around the state are paid a fair salary for their labor, based on wages being paid at work sites in their region of the state. The prevailing wage rates are set by the Illinois Department of Labor.
Comptroller Mendoza signed an Executive Order in August 2019, putting companies around the state on notice that her office would be monitoring compliance with the Prevailing Wage Act and holding up state payments to companies that appeared to violate it by under-paying workers.
“I take my role as Illinois’ Chief Fiscal and Accountability Officer very seriously,” Comptroller Mendoza said. “And when a contractor receives state funds on a project and short-changes the working men and women of Illinois by not paying them the Prevailing Wage, I will not hesitate to hold up those state funds to get the contractor to follow the law.”
In March of 2021, Sean Stott with Laborers’ International Union in Springfield filed a report with the IOC website alleging ShawneeLec, Inc., was failing to provide certified payrolls to the Dept. of Labor on over $5 million in state contracts to install broadband in several locations in Southern Illinois.
The Comptroller’s Office determined that Stott’s inquiry raised legitimate concerns about this contractor’s compliance with the Prevailing Wage Act in which the state had already paid ShawneeLec, Inc., over $4.3 million. It was later revealed that the contractor failed to submit all the required certified payrolls to the Dept. of Labor for two project locations in Goreville and Mitchellsville.
Pursuant to the Comptroller’s Executive Order, the IOC withheld $870,629 in payments to the contractor. The Dept. of Labor and the IOC both conducted independent investigations of the contractor. IOC personnel toured the job sites on several occasions.
Earlier this month, ShawneeLec, Inc., confirmed to the IOC that they have reported to the Dept. of Labor that they paid $72,935.54 in underpaid back wages owed to workers for both projects. The Dept. of Labor additionally fined the contractor $14,587.11.
Now that the IOC has received proof that these workers have been made whole and that the fine was paid, the IOC today will release $870,629. This reflects the final amounts, or about 15% remaining on this contract.
“We were fortunate that my office froze these final payments so that the Dept. of Labor could complete a thorough investigation. Once again, I’ll caution all state contractors that if they thought my Prevailing Wage Executive Order was something they could ignore, this should put them on notice that I will vigilantly watch out for the rights of Illinois workers,” Comptroller Mendoza said.
The Order benefits union members and non-union employees alike. The beneficiaries of these back wages were ShawneeLec’s non-union employees who won back $72,935.54, with two employees underpaid over $20,000 working on both sites.
“On behalf of all the working men and women of the building trades that we represent in Illinois, I thank Comptroller Mendoza for demonstrating how state government can be a partner in fighting wage theft,” Tim Drea, President of the Illinois AFL-CIO said. “I’m grateful the Comptroller’s Office and the Dept. of Labor serve as a one-two punch in protecting worker’s wages on public works projects. The AFL-CIO stood in support of the Comptroller’s Executive Order when she signed it in 2019 and will continue to support her role as a much-needed watchdog for worker’s wages.”
“The Comptroller’s actions are most helpful in addressing the growing problem of wage theft from hard-working women and men,” said Sean Stott of the Laborers’ International Union. “The Comptroller’s efforts should serve as a warning to contractors that Prevailing Wage requirements are the law of the land, and that failure to follow the law has serious consequences.”
“Comptroller Mendoza continues to enforce the law protecting workers’ rights on state-funded projects throughout the state of Illinois,” said Steve Hughart, Business Manager of IBEW Local 702 in West Frankfort. “The IBEW and all union crafts appreciate and support her efforts! I’d like to give a special mention to Josh Downs, Comptroller Mendoza’s Deputy Director of Outreach & Community Affairs, for his efforts working with my team doing the field investigation that led to this outcome.”
In 2021, Comptroller Mendoza froze $537,000 from a contractor in the Metro East area for violating the Prevailing Wage law until the contractor paid $70,628.75 in unpaid wages and fines. Comptroller Mendoza’s office continues to review allegations of wage theft.