Amazon HQ2 decision: Amazon splits prize between Crystal City and New York

November 14, 2018


Amazon HQ2 decision: Amazon splits prize between Crystal City and New York

What might happen if Amazon moves to your city?

Will Amazon’s HQ2 be a good neighbor or a nightmare? (Daron Taylor/The Washington Post)

By Jonathan O’Connell and Robert McCartney


November 13 at 12:03 PM

Amazon will open major new outposts in Northern Virginia’s Crystal City and in New York City, splitting its much-sought investment of up to 50,000 jobs between the two East Coast sites, the company announced Tuesday.

“We are excited to build new headquarters in New York City and Northern Virginia,” Amazon founder and CEO Jeffrey P. Bezos said in a statement. “These two locations will allow us to attract world-class talent that will help us to continue inventing for customers for years to come. The team did a great job selecting these sites, and we look forward to becoming an even bigger part of these communities.”

The company also announced that it has selected Nashville for 5,000 jobs as part of a new Center of Excellence for its Operations business, which is responsible for the company’s customer fulfillment, transportation, supply chain and similar activities.

[Amazon HQ2 to receive more than $2.8 billion in incentives from Virginia, New York and Tennessee]


The choice of Crystal City in Arlington County as one of the winners cements Northern Virginia’s reputation as a magnet for business and will potentially reshape the Washington region into an eastern outpost of Silicon Valley over the next decade.


IRS Enforcement Facing Collapse

After Budget Cuts, the IRS’s Work Against Tax Cheats is Facing “Collapse”


October 1, 2018


The following are excerpts from the article:


Last year, the IRS’s criminal division brought 795 cases in which tax fraud was the primary crime, a decline of almost a quarter since 2010. “That is a startling number,” Don Fort, the chief of criminal investigations for the IRS, acknowledged at an NYU tax conference in June.


Bringing cases against people who evade taxes on legal income is central to the revenue service’s mission. In addition to recouping lost revenue, such cases are supposed “to influence taxpayer behavior for the hundreds of millions of American citizens filing tax returns,” Fort said. With fewer cases, experts fear, Americans will get the message that it’s all right to break the law.


“Due to budget cuts, attrition and a shift in focus, there’s been a collapse in the commitment to take on tax fraud,” said Chuck Pine, who used to be the third-ranking criminal enforcement officer at the IRS and is now a managing director at BDO Consulting. “I believe there are thousands of individuals who have U.S. tax obligations and are not complying with U.S. tax laws.”


The result is huge losses for the government. Business owners don’t pay $125 billion in taxes each year that they owe, according to IRS estimates. That’s enough to finance the departments of State, Energy and Homeland Security, with NASA tossed in for good measure. Unlike wage earners who have their income separately reported to the IRS, business owners are often on the honor system.


But the rate at which the agency audits tax returns has plummeted by 42 percent since the budget cuts started. Criminal referrals were always rare and are becoming rarer still, dropping from 589 referrals in 2012 to 328 in 2016. With the government conducting 1.2 million audits in 2016, that’s one criminal referral for roughly every 3,600 audits.


In addition, current and former IRS agents say that audits are not as intensive as they used to be. Because the IRS pushes agents to close audits more quickly, they make fewer requests for records and interviews.


Budget cuts have diminished the criminal investigation division, trimming the number of agents by a fifth since 2010. Recently, the IRS closed four of its 25 field offices, according to Fort. In New York state, home of the country’s financial industry, the revenue service is down to 161 agents, about a hundred fewer than it had 15 years ago.


Representative of the General President
United Brotherhood of Carpenters
and Joiners of America
101 Constitution Ave., NW

Washington, DC 20001
mobile: (203) 231-0398

Contractor Ricardo Batres Charged with Labor Trafficking, Revealing Immigrant Worker Abuse






Governor Northam Signs Executive Order Establishing Interagency Task Force on Worker Misclassification and Payroll Fraud

August 10th, 2018

Commonwealth of Virginia

Office of Governor Ralph S. Northam


Date: August 10, 2018


Office of the Governor

Contact: Ofirah Yheskel



Governor Northam Signs Executive Order Establishing Interagency Task Force on Worker Misclassification and Payroll Fraud

~ Misclassification blocks worker benefits and protections; estimated to cost as much as $28 million a year in state income tax collections ~


RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today signed an Executive Order establishing an interagency task force on worker misclassification and payroll fraud. The misclassification of employees as “independent contractors” undermines businesses that follow the law, deprives the Commonwealth of millions of dollars in tax revenues, and prevents workers from receiving legal protections and benefits.

“Treating Virginia workers fairly is central to building an economy that works for everyone, no matter who you are or where you live,” said Governor Northam. “Every employer in the Commonwealth should be playing by the same rules and this task force will come up with a comprehensive plan to make sure workers aren’t missing out on the protections and benefits they would receive if properly classified.”

A 2012 report of the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) found that one-third of audited employers in certain industries misclassify their employees. By failing to purchase workers’ compensation insurance, pay unemployment insurance and payroll taxes, or comply with minimum wage and overtime laws, employers lower their costs as much as 40%, placing other employers at a competitive disadvantage.

The task force will develop and implement a comprehensive plan with measurable goals, including identifying ways to hold companies working on state contracts who commit payroll fraud through misclassification of workers accountable, and identifying ways to deter future inappropriate conduct by recommending enforcement mechanisms.

Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball will chair the task force. It will include representatives from the Virginia Employment Commission, the Department of General Services, the Department of Labor and Industry, the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation, the State Corporation Commission’s Bureau of Insurance, the Department of Taxation, the Workers’ Compensation Commission, and the Office of the Attorney General.

The group will develop a work plan by November 1, 2018 and report to the Governor on its progress by August 1, 2019.


The full text of Executive Order Sixteen can be found here.




Racine sues Florida company for allegedly denying wages, benefits to workers on D.C. projects

August 9th, 2018


D.C. Politics

Racine sues Florida company for allegedly denying wages, benefits to workers on D.C. projects












D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine (D). (Michael Robinson Chavez/The Washington Post)


By Reis Thebault August 8 at 5:33 PM Email the author


An electrical contractor that has worked on many high-profile projects in the District allegedly engaged in a payroll scheme that deprived hundreds of workers of sick leave, overtime pay or minimum wage, according to a lawsuit filed this week by Attorney General Karl A. Racine.

The complaint, filed Monday in D.C. Superior Court, claims that Power Design Inc., based in Florida, misclassified 535 electrical workers as independent contractors, which kept them off the payroll and allowed the company to avoid paying some D.C. taxes.

Although the workers have many of the same roles and responsibilities as Power Design employees and report to the company’s managers, the lawsuit alleges, they do not receive the paid sick leave that D.C. employers are required to give. The lawsuit says that at least 180 workers weren’t paid the required overtime rate, and that at least 64 weren’t paid minimum wage.

“Power Design cheated hundreds of District workers out of their hard-earned wages and stripped them of their legal rights,” Racine (D) said in a statement. “When companies misclassify employees as independent contractors, they steal from their workers and gain an unfair advantage over competitors that follow the law.”

[If politicians care about a rigged system, it’s time to address wage theft]


A spokesman for Power Design said the company — which has won D.C. contracts for high-end developments such as the Yards on the Anacostia Riverfront and publicly subsidized projects such as the Line Hotel in Adams Morgan — takes seriously its compliance with local laws and regulations and has begun an internal investigation of the allegations.











The Line Hotel under construction in Adams Morgan in 2017. (Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post)

The complaint says the company hires workers from third-party “labor brokers” and then lists those workers as independent contractors, rather than its own employees.

Racine’s office is seeking tens of thousands of dollars in damages, along with unpaid taxes and fines for every worker misclassified.

“This maneuver allows Power Design to slash costs, evading taxes and costs associated with payroll that are concomitant with a typical employer-employee relationship,” the complaint says. “As business in the construction industry is often awarded through a bidding process, these suppressed costs are instrumental to Power Design’s success in the District.”

D.C. Council member Elissa Silverman (I-At Large), who has raised concerns about Power Design’s business practices before, called the lawsuit a “first, important step” that shows the city takes the enforcement of its labor laws seriously.

“We’re sending a message to contractors,” she said. “You need to pay your workers fairly, or there will be consequences.”

[The Trump administration proposes allowing tip-pooling in restaurants. Critics call it stealing workers’ wages.]


In 2017, when Power Design applied for certification to offer apprenticeships in the city, Silverman pointed out that the company had been sued elsewhere for misclassifying workers and not paying overtime.

“I have concerns about Power Design’s labor practices, and urge you to deny their application until they can demonstrate that their business practices are in line with local and federal law,” Silverman wrote in a letter to the D.C. apprenticeship council, which oversees apprenticeship programs for the Department of Employment Services.


A spokeswoman for the department declined to answer questions about the lawsuit or the council’s approval of Power Design’s application.

Silverman, who chairs a committee that oversees the department, said she has pushed officials there to be more proactive in enforcing D.C. labor laws, rather than mainly responding to complaints.

“It’s about really taking a muscular approach,” she said.

Labor and community activists, who also have long criticized the company, applauded Racine’s lawsuit. “For too long, the city has passed paper tiger laws that sound wonderful, but the enforcement of them has been lacking,” said Bryan Weaver, a community leader in Adams Morgan who protested the Line Hotel project.

“I hope this hearkens a new day in the District of Columbia, where developers and contractors are going to be held to the letter of the law,” he said.

Reis ThebaultReis Thebault is a reporter covering politics in the D.C. metro area. He has worked on the local desks of the Boston Globe and the Columbus Dispatch. He joined The Washington Post as an intern in June 2018. Follow © 1996-2018 The Washington Post

July 2018 Update – Paid Family Leave Program


Washington, D.C.’s new Paid Family Leave Program will become effective July 1, 2020. Employers will start paying the new 0.62 percent tax on wages on July 1, 2019.

The Universal Paid Leave Amendment Act of 2016 provides up to eight weeks of parental leave for workers in DC with a new child, six weeks of family leave to care for an ill family member with a serious health condition, and two weeks of medical leave to care for one’s own serious health issues.

While some of the rules are still being worked out, employers who are doing work in the District should be aware of the requirements  needed to qualify for benefits.  For example, this program covers anyone working in the District regardless of where they live. If one has worked for at least one year, spends more than 50 percent of their time working in the District, and works a minimum of 1,000 hours then they would qualify.  The current maximum weekly benefit amount is $1,000.

Employers have the responsibility of contributing to the fund (regardless of where the company is located), create an online account with the Department of Employee Services, and post an employee notification at the place of work.

For more information, please call 202/899-3700 or email or go to or


-Bernie Brill

Executive Director

SMACNA Mid-Atlantic Chapter

DLLR Worker Misclassification



At the Construction Roundtable Meeting on June 28th, Kathy Sibbald reported on the Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation’s (DLLR) efforts regarding enforcement. She reported that there were 750 work-sites visited resulting in 138 new cases last year.

Sibbald is a DLLR administrator overseeing employment standards, prevailing and living wage, and worker classification protection.

She said the state collected $22,000 in fines and is in the process of hiring four new investigators.

Jim Tudor, program administrator for Prevailing and Living Wage and Worker Classification Protection Unit spoke about the need for contractors to submit the state’s prevailing wage survey.

DLLR Commissioner  Matt Helminiak and Labor Secretary Kelly Schulz also spoke at the meeting.


-Bernie Brill

Executive Director

SMACNA Mid-Atlantic Chapter

New Amendment at DC City Council


A new amendment at DC City Council has been proposed affecting the garnishment of wages. On Wednesday, July 11, 2018 CM Elissa Silverman is holding a round-tablebefore the Committee on Labor and Workforce’s implementation of the Universal Paid Leave Amendment Act of 2016.  The committee will review quarterly reports due by June 30 in addition to the status of other elements implementation.


Please let Doug know if you wish to testify before July 9, 2018. You may also submit written statement to Ms. Royster at


On another subject, Council members Grosso, Nadeau, Bonds, Silverman, Evans, and White are sponsoring this amendment to prevent wage garnishment from individuals making less than the DC living wage, to limit the amount that (more…)

Testimony from DC Employment Services – Labor & Workforce Development



Full Video


“Testimony related to the District of Columbia Department of Employment Services (DOES) at the DC Council Committee on Labor & Workforce Development’s Budget Oversight Hearing on April 18th


Please note- testimony from Fred Codding and Vic Cornellier can be witnessed at time 2 hour 07 mins – 2 hour 27 mins.