Seattle police investigate worker wages at city-funded housing projects

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by KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on March 4, 2013 at 12:14 PM

Updated Monday, Mar 4 at 1:28 PM

The Seattle Police Department is conducting an active criminal investigation into allegations of improper payment and treatment of construction workers on city-funded affordable housing projects.

Allegations of inadequate payment of wages to workers was uncovered in August and September on two affordable housing projects under construction at the time. These allegations are based on information obtained by a contract analyst for the City of Seattle.

"Workers deserve fair and humane treatment on the job, and a chance to build a better life for themselves and their families," Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn said in a press release. "These are very serious allegations, and the Seattle Police Department will aggressively pursue this investigation."

The investigation was expanded after additional allegations on two more housing projects. Evidence was forwarded to the Seattle Police Department, which began a criminal investigation into the allegations.

"Theft of wages is as malicious a crime as any other theft," Seattle City Councilmember Tim Burgess said in a statement. "It takes money directly from the pockets of workers and their families. The allegations of wage theft on City-financed projects must be taken seriously and investigated thoroughly by the police department and other relevant law enforcement agencies."

While the city provided the funding, nonprofit housing providers develop, own and operate the housing projects.

In 2006, the City of Seattle worked with the Housing Development Consortium to create the Residential Prevailing Wage Rate Policy to ensure workers receive prevailing wates for their work.

The city began monitoring for compliance in 2007, a process which is responsible for uncovering the recent allegations.

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