In 1983, I moved from San Francisco to San Diego. My woodshop was on Mississippi Street, Potrero Hill area. In those days $20-30 an hour was the going rate.
When I moved to San Diego, 1983, I found skilled carpenters getting $5-8 hour, with all their tools. So, I did plumbing for $15 an hour, until an ad in the paper came out saying finish carpenters wanted $20.99 hour.
The job was at the Mariner's Cove Apartment Complex. It was an million, 500 unit, HUD Section 8 low income housing project, so Davis-Bacon prevailing wages were supposed to be paid.
Well, as it turned out, my employer was the low bidder. He had all kinds of methods for paying. And my $20.99 an hour never seemed to materialize, even though all the signs indicated thats what we were supposed to be getting.
I kept track of my time and efforts, and made claim for backwages, which I received on 12-15-83.
Right after that, the guys on the job said that because I got that $8000 in backwages, there wasnt enough in the boss's bank account to pay them. And they were going to have a crummy Christmas because of me. I told them there were bonds on that job, their money was guaranteed by HUD, and I would help them.
So, I helped them. There was 22 of us at the Mariner's Cove Apartments. About 8 of us were under our one employer. The others were for the other subs.
All 8 of us went around downtown to all the Federal Buildings we thought would help. Each Federal Agency sent us to another Federal Agency. We were always getting pushed aside.
Then we went to Congressman Duncan Hunter's Office. And things started to happen. But we were trying to get the guys paid. So, the news was next.
Rory Divine, Channel 39 News came to my house to interview me, with all my law books and records. Then she went to Congressman Hunter's Office to interview the aide, who said the problem of Davis-Bacon underpayment of wages was significant. And then Rory Divine said this, or something close to this..."perhaps these claims have become so significant because of a US Attorney's Office that is reluctant to file criminal charges in these matters"...
And so, the US Attorney's Office filed charges against my employer and about 10 others. The investigation was done and it was reported that 1280 workers were found due $1.7 million in backwages. And a lot of people from HUD got fired. And, on 4-15-85, my employer was sentenced for filing false document.
Immediately after that, the government reprisals started against me. Of course, there was blacklisting before that. You know, having your name blasted throughout the news just tells the contractors who dont pay properly not to hire you. And at that time, in that city, it was most of them.
So, the first government reprisal was a summons for 18 months of Federal Grand Jury service. (How many carpenters are doing that?)
And the rest followed. And every time they did something to me, I saved the evidence and filed a claim in the proper court. And every time I filed a claim in the court, the court would ignore it, and force me through some other hoops in this system of theirs.
At the end of my 13 years fighting the corruption in government that I was documenting, I have about 30 claims all consolidated to case #95-2437 KEEP, San Diego Federal Court. Most of all the other Federal Judges recused, so Chief Judge Keep got the case. But she has ignored it.
In the beginning, I used to get threatening calls from the Governor's Office. After threatening to manipulate the justice system against me, I went to the FBI. They said that I did not want the bullshit hanging over my head for the rest of my life so I should fight. So I did.
And now, I have shared a little bit of my experience on this board.
There is much more to building than pounding nails. Sometimes it is better to seek first doing good in one's work, knowing that rest will be added unto.
Hope this helps.
alan joseph samson