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Amazon Warehouse Mega-Project Plagued by Violations of Labor and Contracting Laws

Amazon Warehouse Mega-Project Plagued by Violations of Labor and Contracting Laws

Tracy, Calif – An unlicensed Amazon Warehouse Mega-Project contractor from Florida is working illegally on a major Amazon warehouse and logistics complex here, violating the wage and hour rights of the more than 100 construction workers installing metal stud and drywall, according to an investigation by the Nor Cal Carpenters Union.

The Carpenters Union says it has uncovered a host of serious violations at the Amazon “Big Bird” project site in Tracy, which the developer has called the “flagship” Amazon facility in the region.

The union investigation and allegations could impact Amazon’s plans in Oakland to develop a warehouse with Duke Realty, which may be planning an Amazon Warehouse.

The union investigation revealed that the work is being performed by Puertos 21, a three-year-old framing contractor from Orlando, Florida, that lacks a California contractor’s license, making it illegal for the company to do any work in the state. Puertos 21 is engaged by United Contractor Services, which itself is operating with a suspended contractor’s license, under the direction of Clayco Construction Inc., a Missouri-based general contractor.

These massive violations of labor and tax laws are happening on a project that was supposed to be a boon for local construction workers, union officials said. Accordingly, the Nor Cal Carpenters Union is calling on  California Attorney General Rob Bonta and San Joaquin District Attorney Tori Verber Salazar to take action now against Puertos 21, United Contractor Services or Clayco Construction.

“Rob Bonta has been a champion for ordinary working people by making it a priority to bring cases against employers who abuse workers, commit wage theft and foster unfair and unsafe working conditions, and Tori Verber Salazar has sworn to protect the people of her county. That is why we are calling on our elected officials to hold Amazon, a trillion dollar corporation and its contractors accountable for violating the law and the rights of working women and men,” said Jacob Adiarte of the Nor Cal Carpenters Union.

“Attorney General Bonta has directly heard our concerns and we know he takes them seriously. This matter is urgent and our public officials must take action to shut down the illegal projects and protect the working people of Tracy and California from being exploited” Adiarte added.

Even though it has no legal right to do work on the project, Puertos 21 nonetheless has hired more than 100 construction laborers at the site, including minors brought in from out-of-state in violation of the law, alleges the Carpenters Union.

The Union claims Puertos 21 is abusing and cheating those workers, forcing them to work overtime without overtime pay and not applying withholding of social security, Medicare or state disability taxes to the worker’s checks, in violation of California and federal law. The company also denies these workers meal and rest breaks, another serious violation of the law, even though some of these workers are laboring 60 hours or more a week.

The investigation also revealed that Puertos 21 also does not carry workers compensation insurance, which it is required to do under the law and is a vital protection for workers who are injured on the job. Indeed, workers who were injured on the job have been coerced into lying about how they sustained their injuries and told to give false information to doctors treating them at local emergency rooms, according to the union investigation. If the workers did not comply with the company’s demands, they were fired.

“When unlicensed contractors cheat the system, fair and honest contractors and laborers lose out on precious work. When dishonest contractors commit tax fraud, every Californian pays the price. When unscrupulous contractors refuse to carry workers compensation insurance, they compound the injuries their workers suffer and stick taxpayers with the bill,” Union representative Adiarte said. “This kind of callous dismissal of the law affects more than just 100 working men and women: it is an injury that hurts us all.”  

Stay tuned.

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