Link to Owner Dr. Robert B. Pamplin Jr.



Company was accused of underpaying workers on public projects

The Bureau of Labor and Industries has banned a Hillsboro janitorial company accused of underpaying workers on publicly funded projects in Western Oregon from ever working on public works contracts in the state again.

The lifetime ban on Cornerstone Janitorial Services — only the second the agency has imposed — is part of a settlement agreement with the company. Cornerstone, owned by Sang Nam of Hillsboro, also agreed to pay $144,000 in damages to 46 underpaid workers as part of the deal.

BOLI previously recovered more than $200,000 from Cornerstone to compensate workers who had been paid less than the state-mandated amount.

"It's especially important that taxpayer-funded projects fulfill the basic promise of fair wages for a fair day's work," said Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian. "This settlement is a win for vulnerable workers and other businesses that deserve a level paying field."

Public works contracts require that workers receive a prevailing wage, which is calculated through a complicated formula. An October 2014 complaint by Hoffman Construction Company of Oregon prompted the BOLI probe into Cornerstone's wage practices. The complaint accused Cornerstone of failing to pay workers the prevailing wage and paying them only in cash during a project at Portland Community College's Cascade Campus on North Killingsworth Street, where Hoffman also was a contractor.

Nam allegedly hired undocumented workers, paid them less than prevailing wage and pocketed the difference, according to an investigation by GoLocalPDX. For instance, one worker received $12 an hour for work that required an hourly prevailing wage of $36, GoLocalPDX found.

Nam declined to comment Wednesday, Sept. 28, on the allegations.

In addition to the community college, Cornerstone has worked on publicly funded projects at the University of Oregon, Oregon State Hospital, Western Oregon University, Oregon State University and several public school districts. The Washington State Department of Labor and Industries also has fined the company for labor violations.

The lifetime ban is the second BOLI has imposed on a contractor. The first was in 2000 against Lowell-based Cameron Creations.

By Paris Achen
Portland Tribune Capital Bureau Reporter
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