Final $924K to go out to SOU project workers

    The Bureau of Labor and Industries has directed an additional $924,000 to 116 employees who worked on a public works project for Southern Oregon University (SOU), the agency announced Tuesday.

    A late December wage settlement agreement of $2.5 million represented the largest in the agency’s history. Under terms of the agreement, the university made an initial $1.5 million payment to BOLI on behalf of 179 workers in December.

    Last week, BOLI received the remaining settlement payment from SOU for $1 million. BOLI has since mailed payments to all workers who’ve signed individual releases of claims and for whom SOU has social security numbers. An additional 29 workers will be sent $84,360 after the agency receives signed releases.

    SOU did not admit to any wrongdoing in the settlement and previously issued a statement saying it "disagreed with BOLI's conclusion that additional wages were owed (but) due to the time and cost of litigating the discute, the SOU administration concluded that it was in the best interest of all involved to mutually resolve the dispute."

    The school said American Campus Communities, a builder and manager of campus properties across the country, will pay $600,000 of the settlement. SOU and ACC have lease and financing deals for buildings that were part of the project.

    “I’m very happy to see these additional workers receive full wages to which they’re entitled,” said Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian. “Any public agency or contractor that has questions about Oregon’s prevailing wage law can contact us about whether a project requires payment of prevailing wage rates.”

    The agreement releases SOU and other parties from future wage claims stemming from the project while admitting no wrongdoing or liability on the disputed wages.

    Starting in late 2013, BOLI’s Wage and Hour Division initiated a series of prevailing wage audits after questions arose about the SOU project during a separate investigation.

    The prevailing wage inquiry — comprised of 80 audits — found that 44 contractors and subcontractors could owe $2.6 million to workers on the project. Prior to the settlement, the agency secured about $52,000 in wage payments.

    Construction of the residence halls and dining hall began in 2012, with all three buildings completed in the first week of September 2013. The buildings replace the Cascade Complex, a single structure with residence halls and a common dining area. The same architect and general contractor performed work on the project, with most first-tier subcontractors working on all three buildings.

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