Federal agency says subcontractors underpaid workers on Phoenix light rail project

Mar 16, 2024, 4:00 PM

A train gets taken for a ride on the northwest Phoenix expansion of the Valley Metro light rail. (Facebook/Valley Metro)

(Facebook/Valley Metro)

PHOENIX – The U.S. Department of Labor has recovered more than $600,000 in back wages for workers who helped build an extension of the Valley Metro light rail system.

Investigations of companies working for Kiewit Infrastructure West Co. — the project’s prime contractor — found violations of the Davis-Bacon and Related Acts and the Contract Work Hours and Safety Standards Act.

“A prime contractor is responsible for ensuring that subcontractors follow all regulations and procedures for projects supported, in part or fully — with federal funds — including paying prevailing wages and providing required benefits,” Eric Murray, a district director for the department’s Wage and Hour Division, said in a press release. “The Wage and Hour Division is determined to ensure that federally funded construction projects provide workers and local communities with the intended economic benefits.”

As a result of the violations being discovered, 227 people who worked on the Northwest Phase II extension project will share more than $607,000 in back wages.

According to the press release, investigators found subcontractors’ violations of federal contract laws included:

  • Kimbrell Electric Inc., a Glendale electrical contractor, failed to pay correct prevailing wage rates and fringe benefits. The company incorrectly classified electricians and paid them as pipelayers, common and general laborers and power tool operators. The division recovered $350,659 for 107 employees. After a separate 2015 investigation of Kimbrell Electric, the division recovered $184,389 owed to 61 workers.
  • Specialized Services Co, a Phoenix excavation services provider, wrongly classified employees as power tool operators when they were working as vacuum truck hose operators, which led the employer to underpay prevailing wages and fringe benefits to 42 employees. The division recovered $23,772 owed to these employees.
  • Badger Infrastructure Solutions, a Brownsburg, Indiana-based hydro-excavation services company that operates as Badger Daylighting, incorrectly classified vacuum truck operators as common and general laborers. By doing so, the employer failed to pay employees the required prevailing wages, fringe benefits and overtime rates. The division recovered $76,745 for 35 employees.
  • AJ Roberts Industrial Inc., a Chandler employer, incorrectly classified iron workers as power tool operators. By doing so, the company paid them significantly lower prevailing wage rates and fringe benefits than required for iron workers. The division recovered $142,659 for 23 workers.
  • Roadway Electric LLC, a Phoenix electrical contractor incorrectly classified electricians as common and general laborers and pipelayers and, by doing so, did not pay them the correct electricians’ prevailing wage rates. The division recovered $13,458 in back wages owed to 20 workers. A separate 2020 investigation by the division also found violations of federal labor laws, leading to the recovery of $81,909 for 34 employees.

The Northwest Phase II extension of the Valley Metro Rail opened to the public on Jan. 27, 2024.

Those who worked on this project, and feel they may be entitled to back wages, can search a database online.

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Federal agency says subcontractors underpaid workers on Phoenix light rail project