Release: Relief for Vermont Contract Workers

More Than $1.5 Million in Back Wages Owed to Vermont Service Center Workers
 
WASHINGTON, Sept. 30 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today welcomed a U.S. Labor Department ruling that will result in more than $1.5 million in back wages for federal contract workers in St. Albans and Essex Junction.

The ruling affects 272 contract workers employed by SI International SEIT Inc. at the Vermont Service Center of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

“Today's settlement is a victory for the Vermont Service Center workers who will finally begin to receive the back pay and other benefits that they are legally entitled to receive,” Sanders said. “While it took far too long for this day to come, I am pleased that the Labor Department has made this announcement and that workers will start to receive the back pay that they deserve.

“As important as today's victory is, this matter is still not over. I remain convinced that other contractors have illegally underpaid workers at the Vermont Service Center. I will do everything I can to actively pursue a fair resolution so all workers get what they are owed,” Sanders added.

SI International SEIT Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of SI International, Inc., employed workers at the Vermont Service Center under federal service contracts.  Following an investigation, the Labor Department Wage and Hour Division cited the company for misclassifying employees and failing to pay them the proper prevailing wage rates for the type of work they were actually performing.

The company agreed to pay the more than $1.5 million in back wages by October 31, 2009. Federal wage-and-hour laws require contractors and subcontractors performing on major federal service contracts to pay service employees no less than the wage rates and fringe benefits found prevailing in the locality for the classification of work that they perform.

Sanders first raised concern about the underpayments in 2007, when he asked the Labor Department to investigate potential violations of the law at the Vermont Service Center. The following year Sanders met with Labor Department officials to press the case that the Vermont Service Center workers should receive what they are legally entitled to receive.

Earlier this year, Sanders met with Labor Secretary Hilda Solis and urged her to complete the investigations as soon as possible.

Last April, Sanders hosted a town meeting with the Vermont Service Center workers to discuss this issue and several other issues.