What is LEVEL?
The Construction Enforcement Coalition is a CALPASC-led group composed of trade and labor organizations dedicated to battling the underground construction economy and that advocates for fair and consistent enforcement. This is done via the LEVEL (Lasting Effective Violator Enforcement Leadership) program that targets fraudulent contractors and subcontractors thriving within the underground economies that cost state and local governments in excess of $1billion. The LEVEL program is supported by the generous sponsorships of the CEC members.
What is the Issue?
Currently in California, too many trade contractors are consistently and systematically violating important labor and safety laws and regulations to gain an unfair competitive advantage. Their unscrupulous actions threaten the livelihoods of professional and ethical trade contractors, result in over a billion of lost dollars to state and local governments and present safety risks to workers and the public. All too often, builders, general contractors, remodeling companies, and even the public at large, hire cheaters solely because of their very low bids—which in turn are made possible via unethical and illegal means. Though the LEVEL program has helped increase the enforcement activity on this issue plaguing the industry, much work remains to be done. CALPASC is addressing this deep and widespread problem as a top priority under the banner of the LEVEL Program. The following are specific areas of concern:
- Employers paying cash or partial cash to employees
- Independent contractor fraud
- Workers’ compensation premium and payroll fraud
- Prevailing wage violators
- Certification violations
- Cal/OSHA violators (e.g.: fall protection)
How the Work is Done
The LEVEL Program adjusts its strategy from year to year, but in general the following are elements:
Meetings. Throughout the year, CALPASC organizes and hosts various meetings throughout the state that provide a forum for local contractors, association executives, lobbyists, labor representatives, business owners from various trades and law enforcement agencies to address construction enforcement efforts at the state and local level.
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| ||Santa Clara County DA Jeffrey Rosen addresses a CEC meeting in San Jose about coordinated state and local efforts. He is joined on a panel by (L to R) Eric Rood, Head of the Public Works unit for the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, Lieutenant Jorge Perez and Deputy DA Christopher Kwok, both of the Santa Clara County DA's office. |
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- Promotion of the Issue at Large. CALPASC Risk Management Director Bruce has strong connections with various agencies/organizations where he highlights this issue and encourages actions within these agencies to battle the underground economy. These include the Workers’ Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau (WCIRB), State Compensation Insurance Fund (SCIF), Cal/OSHA, Department of Insurance (DOI), and the Little Hoover Commission (LHC).
- Advocacy. CALPASC has been able to leverage its government affairs team to identify, analyze and educate stakeholders with regard to key legislation on this issue. CALPASC staff has testified before committees, supported various bills aimed at curbing illegal contracting activity, and educated the industry about the provisions of new legislation and its effect on construction enforcement.
- Media Campaigns. CALPASC has consistently highlighted and promoted the efforts of enforcement agencies and local district attorneys’ offices via press releases and media statements. In addition to press releases, CALPASC staff is routinely sought by news sources to comment on these issues as subject matter experts.
- Pursuing Qualified Complaints. CALPASC remains committed to pursuing qualified complaints against bad actors and we investigate leads from all areas of the industry, including both labor and employers
What’s the End Game?
We need to reform the system of enforcement whereby flagrant violators will be punished more frequently, more severely, and quickly for its unethical business practices. Rather than additional unnecessary regulation, the answer lies in the effective enforcement of existing laws and regulations to level the playing field for trade contractors and promote quality construction.
Some Recent Success Measurements
We believe that the CALPASC-led Construction Enforcement Coalition as a vital part of a broad movement to advocate and promote fair and consistent construction is making a difference. Here are some recent 2014 examples:
- The Labor Enforcement Task Force (LETF) recently reported that the combined and coordinated efforts of enforcement agencies are becoming more and more effective at presenting multiple citations and criminal charges against bad actors (please see CASPASC Labor Enforcement Task Force Presentation below). This is a definite improvement from past activity.
- In March of 2014 the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) reported that in 2013, payments collected as a result of public works investigations resulted in some $17.7 million reinstated to public employees—essentially doubling the 2012 amount of $8.2M. (Please see Unpaid Wages Returned to Work below).
- It’s also worthy to note that there has been a jump in the number of the debarments of contractors from public works as a result of enforcement activity. According to the DIR (please see DLSE Public Debarments below), the total of debarments in 2014 were triple the average of the 5 years prior.
How You Can Help: Sponsor
CALPASC needs resources to properly execute the LEVEL Program, which will help legitimate contractors get the work and not the cheaters! For as little as $100 you may become a LEVEL sponsor, and be recognized as such on our website, in e-mail blasts, and on printed materials that will be distributed at CALPASC events. You do not have to be a member to be a LEVEL sponsor.
Click here to learn more about LEVEL sponsorship.
Contact David Murillo of CALPASC if you are in a position to introduce us to leaders of other associations who may want to join our coalition.
Contact Bruce Wick for details about our comprehensive action plan or to communicate with a state agency,
Have a Lead on a Bad Contractor?
You are highly encouraged to file an anonymous claim, and CALPASC will help you along the way. The steps in the process are as follows:
- Contact Bruce Wick by e-mail or phone at 909-793-9932 if you suspect a certain trade contractor to be a flagrant violator.
- By researching the matter further with you, Bruce will help qualify whether or not the claim should be considered for probable investigation by a state agency.
- If the claim qualifies, CALPASC will communicate directly with the appropriate state agencies' contacts to notify them that they will be receiving a call from a CALPASC member/supporter regarding an alleged violation.
- Bruce will follow-up with the CALPASC member/supporter who made the claim and the state agency to encourage the investigation moves forward.