Thursday, August 26, 2021
SPRINGFIELD – Illinois State Comptroller Susana A. Mendoza will release $537,841.23 to Grafton Technologies of Jerseyville, now that the company has paid back wages and fines totaling $70,628.75 for violating Illinois’ Prevailing Wage Act by under-paying workers.
The act ensures that working men and women around the state are paid a fair salary – based on wages being paid at work sites in their region of the state – for their labor. The prevailing wage rates are set by the state Department of Labor.
“I take my role as Illinois’ Chief Fiscal and Accountability Officer very seriously,” Comptroller Mendoza said. “And when a company getting state funds on a project 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 company to follow the law.”
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.
She set up a page on the IOC website to report companies violating the act. In the past two years, the IOC has received and reviewed 59 complaints alleging companies are violating the act.
In March, Sean Stott with Laborers’ International Union in Springfield filed a report with the IOC website claiming Grafton Technologies was failing to provide certified payrolls to the Dept. of Labor on its $1.5 million state contract to install broadband.
The Comptroller’s office determined that Stott’s inquiry raised legitimate concerns with this contractor’s compliance with the act. Prior to the inquiry, the state had paid Grafton $370,751.75 on December 9, 2020, for broadband installation in Jersey County, in which Grafton Technologies failed to submit the required certified payrolls to the Department of Labor.
Pursuant to the Comptroller’s Executive Order, the IOC held up payments of $537,841.23 to Grafton. The Department of Labor and the IOC both conducted independent investigations of the company. IOC personnel toured the job site in March.
In late July, Grafton reported to the Department of Labor that they paid $61,416.30 in underpaid back wages to workers. The Department of Labor additionally fined Grafton $9,212.45. On Aug 19, 2021, the IOC received documents from the agency confirming these payments.
Now that the final review of the company’s compliance is complete, the IOC today will release $537,841.23 that is currently owed to them for work they have done so far on their broadband installation.
“If any employer 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 this effort by the Comptroller’s Office, the Department of Labor and the unions who filed the complaint were Grafton’s non-union employees who won back $61,000 in back wages.
“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 watchdog over an area of law where we previously had to fend for ourselves,” Pat Devaney, Secretary Treasurer of the Illinois AFL-CIO said. “This serves as a warning for contractors that Prevailing Wage requirements are the law of the land and you must comply. The AFL-CIO stood in support of the Comptroller’s Executive Order when she signed it two years ago and will continue to support her role as a much-needed watchdog for worker’s wages.”
"I have had the privilege of representing the hard-working women and men of LiUNA for nearly 50 years," said John Penn, Vice President and Midwest Regional Manager of the Laborers International Union, "In that time, I have seen companies use all kinds of schemes to avoid paying their workers what they are owed. There is only one sure way to get that company's attention and that is doing what Comptroller Mendoza did by restricting the flow of money into the company's accounts until they do what's right and follow the law. And for that, we can't thank her enough."