Baltazar Rincón performed plumbing and sheet metal work on a federal court building in Yuma, Arizona, but his employer failed to pay him the legally required prevailing wage rates and fringe benefits for his labor. Rincón was underpaid by $11,600, money badly needed to provide for his wife and six children. An investigation by the Wage and Hour Division’s Phoenix District Office helped secure his back wages, and Rincón was so grateful he drove more than three and 1/2 hours from Yuma to Phoenix to personally thank the investigators and agency administrator David Weil, who was visiting the district office.
The investigation of Rincón’s employer, Tempe Mechanical, found $114,524 in back wages due to 24 workers for violations of the Davis-Bacon Act’s prevailing wage and fringe benefits requirements. Eighteen of these employees were shorted an additional $18,135 in overtime pay. The business has paid all back wages plus liquidated damages and civil monetary penalties. Tempe Mechanical has also been debarred from bidding on government contracts for three years.
“The back wage check I received helped my family tremendously, but you also helped the families of my coworkers,” Baltazar told us. “The economic stimulus they received with the back pay made them very happy. Your agency helps many people and you do it without expecting anything in return.”
Baltazar Rincón and his son drove several hours to personally thank Dr. Weil and the Wage and Hour Division’s Phoenix District Office investigators for their work on the investigation of Tempe Mechanical. Left to right, back row: Phoenix Assistant District Director Sarah Martínez (lead manager on the investigation), Phoenix District Director Eric Murray, Administrator Dr. David Weil. Front row: Baltazar Rincón, Daniel, Community Outreach and Resource Planning Specialist Jesús Olivares.
Rincón also brought his son, Daniel, who was able to learn about the Wage and Hour Division by attending a stakeholder meeting with Weil and some of the major worker advocacy groups in Arizona. Daniel is a high school student who also works to help support his family. “I try to put myself in my dad’s shoes. I know how hard it is for him to provide for six children and a wife,” he said.
For Rincón and his son, their involvement in the stakeholder conversation taught them that wage violations can affect workers in all industries and from all backgrounds. The father and son said that their experience with the Wage and Hour Division has motivated them to help other victims of labor abuse.
Meeting with Dr. Weil and the Phoenix District Office staff has motivated Baltazar and Daniel Rincón to help other workers who may be affected by illegal wage practices.
“I want my story to educate others who are being mistreated at work that there is help for them,” Baltazar said. “Workers can contact this agency without any fear; you do care about people. If you ever open an office in Yuma, I am willing to volunteer and distribute flyers so people go talk to you!”
Workers interested in learning more about the Wage and Hour Division can visit www.dol.gov/whd or call 866-4US-WAGE. The phone number for the Phoenix District Office is 602-514-7100.
Jesús Olivares is a community outreach and resource planning specialist for the Wage and Hour Division’s Phoenix District Office.