Austin city leaders have halted all incentives for White Lodging, the developer behind the new, JW Marriott, downtown hotel, and have asked the company to repay all incentives received so far, after it was discovered that White Lodging did not honor its agreement with the city.
In 2011, the city agreed to about $3.8 million in fee waivers for White Lodging as long as the developer paid its workers a prevailing wage—a minimum wage, of sorts, for skilled trade workers, which is scaled to their specialty.
In February of this year, the Workers Defense Project showed the city that some workers on the site were not being paid a prevailing wage, prompting the city to launch an investigation.
The city’s audit, released in March, found that some workers were underpaid by more than three dollars an hour.
In a letter addressed to Deno Yiankes, the CEO of White Lodging Services Corporation, Assistant City Manager Anthony Snipes said efforts to bring the developer into compliance with the agreement have been unsuccessful, and that city workers would be in contact with White Lodging to develop a repayment plan.
White Lodging had until June 4 to prove it paid back wages to the 13 construction workers the city found were underpaid. Instead, White Lodging sent the city a letter asking the city council to change the original agreement.