Crack-Down on Illegal Activity at Visalia Construction Sites
Contractors Board and partners crack down on unlicensed contractors and other cheaters
SACRAMENTO — Tulare County is the latest sweep zone for The Economic and Employment Enforcement Coalition (EEEC) that is going after California's illegal underground economy. The Contractors State License Board (CSLB) was joined by partners from several other government agencies in conducting a two-day sweep for illegal underground economy activity.
The underground economy is fueled in part by unlicensed contractors who prey upon consumers. It's estimated that California looses anywhere from $60 and $140 billion a year in revenue that could be going towards schools roads and law enforcement instead of lining the pockets of lawbreakers. The sweep of Tulare County construction sites targeted businesses that avoid labor, tax and licensing laws to gain competitive Advantage over the almost 300,000 legitimate contractors who follow the law.
Partner agencies comprising the EEEC are the Contractors State License Board (CSLB), the Department of Industrial Relations' Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA), Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) and the Employment Development Department (EDD). In this latest sweep, two partnered teams visited 15 construction sites in Tulare County interviewing workers, managers, owners, and safety officers and checking the businesses' paperwork.
"We're all affected by contractors who break the law. Not only do they take business away from legitimate business people, they're putting consumers at risk," said CSLB Registrar Steve Sands. "If a consumer has a problem, there's very little that can be done to help them. Plus, if a worker gets hurt while on their property, the consumer could be responsible for paying the medical bills."
The two-day sweep resulted in the following:
- The CSLB's Statewide Investigative Fraud Team (SWIFT) working with the Tulare County District Attorney's office issued two citations for contracting without a license and opened up an additional investigation as the result of the sweep that could result in more violations and fines.
- Cal/OSHA assessed $36,500 in projected civil penalties for 28 violations and potential dangers to workers' safety. Examples of problems are employees working without proper fall protection, unsafe roof access, lack of first aid training and inadequate toilet facilities.
- The DLSE issued 5 citations, with a total assessment of $12,000. The citations were levied for no workers' compensation insurance and paying wages in cash.
Sweeps in San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara Counties and San Bernardino counties over the past couple of months have netted about close to 300 violations and over three-quarters of a million dollars in potential fines. The real success of these ongoing operations will be with the impact they have on bringing individuals and employers into the honest business world. Other Task Force teams are conducting similar industry sweeps in agriculture, restaurant, car wash, garment manufacturing, janitorial and racetrack businesses.
The CSLB, which operates under the umbrella of the California Department of Consumer Affairs, licenses 292,000 contractors in California and investigates 20,000 complaints against licensed and unlicensed contractors every year.
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