The CPWC is a group of volunteers who are working to ensure that the federal and state prevailing wage laws are upheld and that you are getting the pay that you are due under the law. These people are doing this at their own expense and for no pay, their only reward is in seeing the lawbreakers forced to pay wages that they should have been paying since 1965 when the Service Contract Act was passed by congress. It is important to know how valuable these volunteers are to you; because no agency of the federal government will take action to recover money stolen from you unless a complaint is filed. If you don't tell them a crime has been committed, no action can be taken. The folks of the CPWC help investigate violations and file claims with the U. S. Department of Labor.
If you are interested in helping with the CPWC please read the following summary. The following section is adapted from the 1998 Prevailing Wage Changes Which Will Effect Your Company, and was written to inform CRM companies of their legal obligations. Many companies just need a friendly reminder of what laws people want them to obey. Please feel free to print out the information and send it to them. In any case, take a moment to fill out the following Prevailing Wage Violation Form for any projects you've worked where it applies. Also, please print out the fact sheet and form, and pass around hard copies to field techs without internet access.
1998 Prevailing Wage Changes Which Will Effect Your Company
July 1, 1997
The recent debate over the application of federal prevailing wage law to Archaeological Contracting has resulted in the subdivision of the existing classification of the subprofessional group "Archeological Technician 29020" into to three sub classes. These are Arch Tech Level I (Helper/Aid), Arch Tech level II (Technician), and Arch Tech level 111 (Crew Chief/Lead Tech). Some considerable confusion has arisen from the debate as to the application of these new sub classification. To help clear up these misunderstandings the Wage and Hour Division of the U. S. Department of Labor held an informational meeting in Washington D.C. on November 12, 1997. The important result of this meeting was a warning to representatives of CRM employers, "do not misclassify your technical employees!" Enforcement procedures and penalties were spelled out at this meeting, including the Department of Labors expectation of typical crew composition and similar practices within other "Occupational Family Classification" presently under the Service Contract Act.
Under the direct supervision of archaeological crew chiefs and under the general supervision of field director/project archaeologist performs unskilled and semi- skilled tasks at archaeological field sites. Assists crew chief in activities associated with the excavation of project areas and found features. Walks over project searching for archaeological materials such as historic and prehistoric remains.
Excavates, screens, back-fills excavated areas. Assists in preparation of sketch maps and forms, and field photography. Conducts simple surveys using compass, topographical map and aerial photographs. Determine the exact locations of sites and marks them on maps and/or aerial photographs. Records information on archeological site survey form and prepares simple reports. Cleans, packages, and labels artifacts recovered from inventories and excavations and assists in the flotation of soil samples.
Under the general supervision of field director/project archaeologist, performs skilled tasks. Conducts hand excavations, completes plan and profile maps of excavated units, completes standard feature and level forms, screens soils to recover artifacts. Performs flotation of soil samples, walk over, and shovel testing. Catalogs, packages/labels archaeological artifacts. Maintains field equipment and supplies. Conducts inventories of cultural resources in areas of proposed projects.
Researchers reference materials such as state and national register files, historic documents, archeological reports, maps and aerial photos, and interviews source individuals concerning project areas. Performs on-the-ground area searches for surface and subsurface evidence of historic and prehistoric archeological remains. Identifies and records historic and prehistoric cultural resource sites. Prepares Archeological Reconnaissance Reports (AARF's) and maps.
Insures that archeology work assignments are carried out in safe, timely manner according to established standards and procedures. Maintains the Archeological Reconnaissance schedule by estimating and reporting and expected time of completion of each project and updating the project planning board. Review work in progress to see that standards for pre-field research, survey design, site recording, graphics and final report are being met.
Advises other employees on methods of cultural resource inventory and provides written instructions, research materials and supplies to all involved in planning and operation of natural resource activities.
Serves as lead archeological technician, under the general supervision of field directory/project archaeologist, and performs skilled tasks at archaeological field sites. Conducts hand excavations, completes plan and profile maps of excavated units, completes standard feature and level forms, screens soils to recover artifacts. Perform flotation of soil samples, and shovel testing. Packages/labels archaeological artifacts. Maintains field equipment and supplies.
Conducts inventories of forest cultural resources in areas of proposed forest service projects. Researchers reference materials such as state and national register files, historic documents, archeological remains. Identifies and records historic and prehistoric cultural resource sites. Prepares Archeological Reconnaissance Reports (AAR's) and maps.
Insures that archeology work assignments are carried out in safe, timely manner according to established standards and procedures. Maintains the Archeological Reconnaissance schedule by estimating and reporting an expected time of completion of each project and updating the project planning board. Reviews work in progress to see that standards for pre-field research, survey design, site recording, graphics and final report are being met.
Advises other employees on methods of cultural resource inventory and provides written instructions, research materials and supplies to all involved in planning and operation of natural resource activities. Provides site recording and implements field data strategies.
Provides leadership to at least three lower graded Archeological Aids or Technicians. Leadership responsibilities are regular and recurring and occupy about 25 percent of the work time. As crew leader assures the work assignments of employees are carried out. Assigns tasks, monitors status, and assures timely accomplishment of workload. Instructs employees in special tasks and job techniques. Checks work in progress and amends or rejects work not meeting established standards. Reports performance, progress, etc., of employees to supervisor.
The explanation of these definitions was made clear by Under Secretary of Labor William Gross at a November 12, 1997 meeting in Washington D. C. where it was explained that the Dept. of Labor will not accept the use of the lowest grade within a "family of job classifications" to compose more than a small fraction of the workforce on any contract. By small fraction Mr. Gross explained that the D of L meant 20% or less of the work crew at the lowest level, and possibly none of the work crew if the lower grade employees did any of the tasks of the next upper grade even if this accounted for only a few hours per work week. This applies to the level II technicians performing any of the work of the crew chief grade as well.
"If an employee during a workweek works in different capacities in the performance of the contract and two or more rates of compensation under section two of the Act are applicable to the classes of work which he or she performs, the employee must be paid the highest of such rates for all hours worked in the workweek..."
This means that if anyone employed as a helper (level I) performs any work considered to be covered under the technician (level II) i.e. requiring any level of skiff, discretion, or independent action or initiative; that person must be paid at the level II rate for the entire work week including any overtime hours. Even if this employee only spends a few hours that week doing the higher paying work.
Skilled, independent work includes any work not directly assisting the crew chief (level III), especially controlled excavation with shovel, trowel, or hand pick, including shovel testing. Screen sorting of any kind. Any type of paperwork or graphing where the information is not being directly dictated by the crew chief. The helper level is limited to assisting skilled technicians (semiskilled), and (unskilled) tasks such as moving equipment and back dirt piles, and must be limited to these duties for every hour of the entire work week.
The performance of higher level work totaling only a few hours in one week need only be evidenced by the testimony or work log/field notes of the employee(s) in question. In an investigation, the employer must produce an hour by hour account of the exact activities of each employee to successfully defend against a claim for higher level pay.
The section of the law requires special pay considerations on federal holidays. There are 10 recognized federal holidays which must be given as paid days off, or if worked must be paid at double the hourly rate. It is expectable to give a different full day off with pay in substitution for the actual holiday, but the substitute day off must fall within the same workweek. Example, if the fourth of July falls on a Thursday, and the employer elects to work on that day, Friday the fifth may be substituted as the paid day off
Additionally the Contract Work Hours and Safety Act in conjunction with the Service Contract Act requires the payment of Time and One half of the regular hourly wage for all hours worked over forty in one work week.
Also a 25 percent premium must be paid n the hourly wage for Sundays worked as part of the regular workweek. The $1.16 additional pay for Health and Welfare contribution is not subject to the above mentioned premiums for Holiday, Sunday, or Overtime pay.
SCA prevailing wage rates for the location where the work is performed is applied. If field work is in Kentucky, the local Kentucky rate is applied to field work. If the lab work and report work is performed in Georgia, then the local Georgia rate is applied. All work is covered, lab, field, and office, even secretarial time and graphic art work is covered with SCA classes.
Enforcement of these laws is basically on the honor system, your company's honor is at stake because when you sign a federal contract or work as a subcontractor you are bound by the legal provisions of the contract, including the Service Contract Act. This means that paying the wrong rate is not only a violation of the SCA, it constitutes fraud against the federal government for failing to meet a contractual obligation. Investigations occur when a violation is reported to the U. S. Department of Labor.
If the U. S. D of L finds that your company owes backwages, they are empowered to collect this money by withholding payments owed to your company by the federal government, regardless of the source or federal agency.
Willful violations can result in the assessment of liquidated damages amounting to a doubling of the amount actually found to be owed plus legal expenses.
Because of the issue of fraud against the federal government, for violating a contractual obligation, your company could be banned from federal or federally subsidized contracting for a term of three years to life. Cases concerning substantial financial fraud could result in a term in a federal penitentiary.
In spite of recent rumors to the contrary, federal agencies are not responsible for backwage payments because the Service Contract Act is always incorporated into the contracts (by reference) and your company is bound by this inclusion even if a prevailing wage list is not provided in the contract. Federal agencies may elect to pay the back wages (i.e. the U. S. Forest Service in one case) but don't count on it.
Your federal contract gives the U. S. D of L unlimited access to you companies records for seven years, including Payroll Records and the right to interview employees.
sets federal prevailing wages for all service workers on federal projects. Including mandatory fringe benefit payments, and paid holidays and vacation time.
sets overtime pay standards, including an extra 25% bonus on top of overtime for work on Sundays (if Sunday is an overtime day you're due double time, if it is not an overtime day you are due time-and-a-quarter; 125% of your base pay). The act also sets safety standards and penalties for not following safe work place rules which OSHA does not.
sets prevailing wage standards for work on construction sites for all federal and state projects which have federal money in them. Including mandatory fringe benefit payments, and paid holidays and vacation time.
makes it a federal crime to with-hold any pay due you under the prevailing wage or overtime laws. So, if an employer is continuing to pay a low rate while waiting to be forced to pay back wages, they still have committed a federal crime even after the back wages are paid. The employer is also not allowed to keep any of your wages for any reason other than tax reporting, and union dues.