Wednesday, April 23, 2014

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Labor groups claim low wages at JW Marriott, developer denies accusation

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TWC News: Labor groups claim low wages at JW Marriott, developer denies accusation
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Labor groups turned over documents Wednesday, claiming proof that White Lodging, the developer behind the JW Marriott in Downtown Austin, has not been paying its workers a prevailing wage, as required by its contract with the city of Austin.

Austin city leaders said they are investigating the claim that White Lodging is not paying agreed-upon wages for workers on the site. Prevailing wages serve as a minimum wage for government contract work.

White Lodging agreed to the wage terms in exchange for $3.8 million in city fee waivers.

The Workers Defense Project and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers point to an email from a high-ranking official within the construction company saying "there is no prevailing wage scale for this project."

"We knew that there weren't prevailing wages on the project,” Greg Casar with the Workers Defense Project said. “This just proved that they knew it too."

White Lodging released a statement saying it's "committed to achieving the goals related to the prevailing wage issue."

"Not only are we adhering to the agreement, we are exceeding the prevailing wage targets average by at least 15 percent," the statement said.

The Workers Defense Project and IBEW are now calling on city leaders to hold up its end of the bargain by taking back the $3.8 million in fee waivers already granted.

"The city's check and balance system needs to be thoroughly examined and reformed so that developers that come seeking tax breaks have to prove that they are complying with their end of the deal," Casar said.

White Lodging says it's cooperating with city leaders, and Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell said he's confident they will resolve the issue.

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