Local contractor charged for working without a license

Thanks to the efforts of IBEW Local 683 organizers, a Columbus area electrical contractor was charged for performing work without the proper license.

On March 22, Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein filed charges against Henry Cruz, owner of Cruz Perdomo Electric, a subcontractor of locally based electrical contractor Settle Muter Electric (SME).

Both Cruz and his company were named in the lawsuit. The charges came about as a result of a major investigation by Local 683 after their organizers spoke with workers on the Mount Carmel East Modernization Project.

During an interview, organizers discovered SME used between 20 and 25 “independent contractors” from Cruz Perdomo Electric on the project.

Following the interview, Local 683 organizers reached out to Affiliated Construction Trades (ACT) Ohio to see if they could determine if Cruz Perdomo Electric was lawfully operating in Ohio.

ACT Ohio’s Legal Department investigated the claims and confirmed with the Ohio Secretary of State’s office that Cruz Perdomo was not registered to conduct business in Ohio and the Ohio Construction Industry Licensing Board (OCLIB) did not issue Cruz Perdomo a contractor’s license. Despite not being a registered contractor, SME subcontracted work on the project to Cruz Perdomo in June 2017.

In September 2017, OCILB investigators visited the site to investigate the complaint, but were denied site access by SME and general contractor Messer Construction. Messer was also charged for blocking the entrance of an OCILB investigator to a construction site.

Besides the licensing issue, Local 683 organizers learned Cruz Perdomo misclassified all their workers on this project as independent contractors, paying them $10 to $15 per hour less than SME employees and also not providing them with health benefits or formal training.

Several former SME employees provided sworn affidavits attesting to the contractor’s misclassification of workers on construction projects in Central Ohio, including Columbus City Schools’ Afrocentric High School and Nationwide Children’s Hospital Ambulatory Facility.

Officials with Mount Carmel cooperated throughout the investigation with representatives of IBEW Local 683 and ACT Ohio.

One of the best ways to avoid hiring unlicensed contractors on projects is to implement responsible contracting policies. Learn more about responsible contracting by clicking here.

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