Saturday, October 23, 2010

Workers Defense Project Files Class Action Lawsuit to Collect $120,000 in Unpaid Wages

AUSTIN, TX - After nearly a year of failed negotiations three construction workers are filing a class action lawsuit for an estimated $120,000 in back wages owed to them and other workers on the job. The workers who performed plaster work at Gables Park Plaza and 21Rio luxury condos say they were regularly shorted on pay and never received overtime - even though they commonly worked 60 or more hours a week. The workers are filing suit under the Fair Labor Standards Act in federal court against the Dallas-based company, Greater Metroplex Interiors (GMI) to recover their wages. GMI hired Capoera Construction to provide workers on the project, but Capoera disappeared after three of the workers were killed in a construction accident.

"We often worked up to 70 hours, six days a week with no rest breaks. We were denied overtime pay and were not paid at all for our final weeks of work. We simply want what is fair, and what we are owed" stated Filimon Salas, a plaintiff who was at the 21 Rio site last summer when three of his co-workers were killed on the job after a faulty scaffold collapse.

The workers in the case decided to file suit after unsuccessfully trying to negotiate a settlement with contractors and owners of the buildings. Yet, more than a year later the workers have still not been paid in full for their honest work. "These workers have tried to negotiate in good faith to recover what is legally owed to them, yet no one has wanted to take responsibility for these clear violations of their right to be paid for their work," said Craig Deats, one of the attorney's representing the workers in the case.

Attorneys in the case have filed a class action suit to allow more plaintiffs to join later. According to Deats there appear to be many more employees who worked on these buildings without receiving full wages but who are unaware of or possibly afraid to enforce their rights.

"With Austin construction workers having a one in five chance of not being paid their wages[1], we are not surprised that these violations have occurred," said Patricia Zavala of Workers Defense Project. "However, we believe that builders and contractors can do more to ensure safe and equitable working conditions." Zavala explained that builders have a unique opportunity to ensure that Austin is built sustainably- including for the workforce.

Workers Defense Project is a local organization dedicated to improving working conditions for low-wage workers in construction and other industries.

What: Press Conference Announcing Class Action Lawsuit
When: Tuesday, October 19th 9:15am
Where: Gables Park Plaza 115 Sandra Muraida Way, Austin, TX. 78703.

This is a zgraphix production.
Produced by Jeff Zavala.

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