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Prevailing Wage Question. Pennsylvania

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  • Prevailing Wage Question. Pennsylvania

    I work in the construction industry and the majority of the type of work I do is Pennsylvania Public Works.
    I have been with my current employer for a number of years now but have just stumbled onto something that I think may be a violation of the state prevailing wage laws.
    BUT before I make any inquiries I want to do as much research as possible before I accuse my employer of any wrong doing.
    I have done a fair amount of internet research but have come up short on answers.

    Also, I have contacted the state under anonymity but haven't received much help because I do not want to identify myself, the employer, or the project, out of fear of retaliation.

    Here's the situation.

    There is absolutely no doubt that I am receiving the correct hourly wage for my classification. - No issue there.
    And I know I am receiving the correct wage rate as per the prevailing wage determination for this project. - Again, no issue there.

    Now, here is the interesting part.

    My fringe benefit rate is significantly lower then what the prevailing wage states it should be.
    This is according to my pay stub. There is a difference of about $15 per hour. This is a lot of money.

    Now, I really have a hard time believing my employer would short change us in such a fashion. Also, could the difference be going else where that is not accounted for on my pay stub or in my pay check?

    Any advice or insight into Pennsylvania Prevailing Wage Fringe Benefits would be a tremendous help.

    I know this was a bit long winded. Thanks in advance for any help or advice!

  • #2
    Another thing I forgot to mention, I had a friend file a right to know request for the certified payrolls.
    These documents are a tad confusing but what I see is everyones Fringe Benefits are all over the place and no ones equals the prevailing wage rate for the correct fringe amount.

    Comment


    • #3
      Nothing huh????

      Comment


      • #4
        I know a little about PW, but not in PA. If this was CA I would say
        - Read the actual PW agreement (which are not the same for all employers).
        - I would look at the CA-DLSE manual, and make sure that the agreement complies with the CA-PW rules. I have read legal CA PW agreements that did not mention FB.
        - I would be skeptical that the FB on the pay stub is legally significant. I would want to know what the actual PW agreement says. I can say that there are many legitimate ways to do a FB calculation, and there are perfectly legal reasons for an employer to use more then one method.
        - PA is not my state, and I have no idea about PA PW rules. Or your PW agreement which I have not read.
        "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away".
        Philip K. **** (1928-1982)

        Comment


        • #5
          Kev, this board is staffed by volunteers who do this on their own time, and it is a holiday weekend. Please have a little patience.
          The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.

          Comment


          • #6
            Ask a business rep from the relevant craft union for some help.....generally there folks have a good handle on wage issues ..use a 3d party if you want to keep your employers name out of it for now...

            there are two prevailing wage acts .. The federal one as in Bacon Davis and the PA state one . If the public project gets federal funds the BD act may well apply ...and I think you are entitled to the better of the two.

            PA act is a bit convoluted and has changed since I last had to figure it out for construction workers.

            But over simplified ..if the PW for your craft in your area is $38/hr and $14/hr fringes. The employer has a lot of latitude to provide fringes worth up the $14 hr OR just pay you $ 14 hr MORE or some combination of the two. Generally it is more tax efficient to get fringes not taxable pay especially with city and state wages taxes piled on...but not every situation is easy ..especially if same crews work on both regular jobs and PW projects ..the accounting gets complicated.

            Don't snooze..you are entitled to,full pay inc benefits on PW work...and I think there is a limited look back time ..3 years in general in PA but I don't know as to PW .

            Comment


            • #7
              Right to Know has nothing to do with payroll. I think you are thinking of a FOIA request. That may or may not give you the information you desire and it only applies to certain public employers and contracts.
              I post with the full knowledge and support of my employer, though the opinions rendered are my own and not necessarily representative of their position. In other words, I'm a free agent.

              Comment


              • #8
                Guys thanks for the feed back.


                Originally posted by DAW View Post
                I know a little about PW, but not in PA. If this was CA I would say
                - Read the actual PW agreement (which are not the same for all employers).
                - I would look at the CA-DLSE manual, and make sure that the agreement complies with the CA-PW rules. I have read legal CA PW agreements that did not mention FB.
                - I would be skeptical that the FB on the pay stub is legally significant. I would want to know what the actual PW agreement says. I can say that there are many legitimate ways to do a FB calculation, and there are perfectly legal reasons for an employer to use more then one method.
                - PA is not my state, and I have no idea about PA PW rules. Or your PW agreement which I have not read.
                In Pennsylvania, the "PW Agreement" is the PW Rate Determination, which is the total of the Hourly Rate and the Fringe Benefit Portion. This I know as fact. I've been working public works projects for the better part of 15 years now.
                I also know that the Rate plus the fringe portion must be shown in the pay stub. I alos know that if the employers FB plan does not equal the dollar amount of the FB prevailing wage determination rate, then the difference must paid in the hourly wage.
                That is why I am so confused. could the employer be skimming that out in the open????

                Originally posted by Raster View Post
                Ask a business rep from the relevant craft union for some help.....generally there folks have a good handle on wage issues ..use a 3d party if you want to keep your employers name out of it for now...

                there are two prevailing wage acts .. The federal one as in Bacon Davis and the PA state one . If the public project gets federal funds the BD act may well apply ...and I think you are entitled to the better of the two.

                PA act is a bit convoluted and has changed since I last had to figure it out for construction workers.

                But over simplified ..if the PW for your craft in your area is $38/hr and $14/hr fringes. The employer has a lot of latitude to provide fringes worth up the $14 hr OR just pay you $ 14 hr MORE or some combination of the two. Generally it is more tax efficient to get fringes not taxable pay especially with city and state wages taxes piled on...but not every situation is easy ..especially if same crews work on both regular jobs and PW projects ..the accounting gets complicated.

                Don't snooze..you are entitled to,full pay inc benefits on PW work...and I think there is a limited look back time ..3 years in general in PA but I don't know as to PW .
                Thankyou.
                I am considering going the union route. BUT - would like to avoid if possibel. And your thinking on the fringes are the same as mine.

                Originally posted by ElleMD View Post
                Right to Know has nothing to do with payroll. I think you are thinking of a FOIA request. That may or may not give you the information you desire and it only applies to certain public employers and contracts.
                Not quite.
                In Pennsylvania, "FOIA" is known as a "Righ to Know" request. Also, certified payrolls are a requirement of Pennsylvania Prevailing Wage Law. I have already requested and received the certified payrolls via a "RTK" request. The certified payrolls show wages AND fringes paid to workers on a Pennsylvania funded project.


                Anyway....I appreciate the responses. I am leaning towards help from a local union at this point. The state has been utterly useless.
                I'm pretty sure I, along with the other workers are getting screwed!

                Comment


                • #9
                  Are not PW required to be posted on job site.

                  I,agree you can find or get the wage on many a project by request ..and some are on line.

                  The appeals process is sort of described in the Pa PW act and regulations ..and begins by a formal written complaint..

                  The recovery is NOT quite as open ended as a basic wage complaint...and the regs address filing a complaint within 2 months of discovery of the problem and a limit of 6 months for missing back pay..and I for sure am not up on details.

                  Note the big issue is employer gets barred from all public work for 3 years if it's intentional,

                  I've found state is not very helpful as to questions..what counts is a formal written complaint filed with the right agency etc.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Have you asked your employer about this?
                    Could it be going to a bona fide pension plan or other approved trust?
                    But ask your employer, I am sure they will be able to clarify, doing public works job and not paying the correct wages is not something an employer wants to do willingly.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I for sure would not ask questions of my employer until and unless I had done my homework

                      if the benefits do not show up on the pay stub or some other clear place I'd start with assumption they are missing from equation.

                      You may instantantly become persona non grata the second you raise an offical red flag ....so be prepared for some serious fallout.

                      I ve heard tales of,construction sites where people who are too inquisitive become accident prone...don't forget to be careful.

                      I suspect you may be right as to being not paid PV..just do your homework and line up your ducks before you file a formal written complaint..as per the PA PVroceedures.

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