by: Deborah Horne Updated:
ISSAQUAH, Wash. - Nearly 400 local workers will be getting more than a half million dollars in back wages and damages, as a result of a lawsuit against an Issaquah-based drywall company.
The workers were hanging drywall on big projects, and say they weren't getting paid what they were owed.
Omar Rubi, an organizer with the International Union of Painters & Trades, has a folder documenting numerous cases of wage theft across the Puget Sound region.
"Look at the numbers. These are all publicly funded projects," Rubi said.
Summit Drywall of Issaquah, he said, was no exception.
"The employees showed up at our office," said Rubi. "They notified me they were not being paid properly. They weren't even making minimum wage."
The nearly 400 workers hung drywall on projects like the Highlands development in Issaquah. According to court documents, Summit was paying workers neither a minimum wage nor overtime.
"I know some guys that were working up to 11 hours a day," said Rubi.
"And what were they getting paid, do you know?" I asked.
"Well, 60 bucks a day," Rubi replied.
"Sixty bucks a day for 11 hours of work?" I asked.
"If they were lucky," Rubi said.
"This is a great victory for the workers," said Donna Hart, district director for the United States Department of Labor in Seattle.
The Labor department sued Summit. The company agreed to settle and pay the workers some $550,000 in back wages and damages.
"This is all about hard-working people who are entitled to their wages," said Hart. "And this restores to them the wages they worked so hard for."
We left a message with the people at Summit Drywall, located behind a gated property near the Issaquah Hobart Road, but we never heard back.
Rubi said when workers aren't paid, everyone suffers.
"Not only does the state lose revenue," said Rubi. "But no workers' compensation is paid. Those employees don't go spend more money. So it hurts the entire system."
Summit has 70 days to pay up.
But since it was a federal case, he is paying the workers based on the federal minimum wage of $7.25.
That is more than $2 less than the state's minimum wage of $9.32.