Subcontractor for UH Hilo Construction Fined $143,000

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Big Island Now stock photo. June 2016.

Big Island Now stock photo. June 2016.

The Hawai‘i State Department of Labor & Industrial Relations has assessed Tradewind Plastering and Drywall Inc. a total of $143,000: $130,367 is for wages owed to construction workers, with $13,037 added for penalties.

Tradewind Plastering and Drywall Inc. was a subcontractor of Jacobsen Construction Co. Inc. on the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo College of Hawai‘i Language Building construction project.

The most costly of the violations was underpaying construction workers by misclassifying them as apprentices and paying lower wages, with no registered apprenticeship in evidence. This was in violation of Hawai‘i’s prevailing wage law covering public works construction.


“Our state prevailing wage law intends that all construction contractors bid on a “level playing field” with regard to labor costs,” said DLIR Director Linda Chu Takayama. “Bids are to be won because of better, more efficient contracting methods, rather than by pushing down the standard of living for Hawai‘i’s workers.”

“This is a different sort of misclassification from the case at the presumptive Holiday Inn Express at the Maile Sky Court,” said Takayama.  “In that case, workers were wrongly misclassified as independent contractors, and protections and benefits required for employees were not provided. In this case, workers were classified as lower-paid apprentices, but there was no registered apprenticeship. In both types of cases, law-abiding bidders face unfair competition, and the workers lose.”

DLIR also notes that it recently recovered wages for hair salon workers who were paid nothing for work performed. They were labeled as apprentices and kept off-the-books for employment purposes. DLIR has been working with the Hawai‘i State Department of Commerce and Consumer affairs to educate salon owners and workers on the matter.


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