State penalizes California contractor

SAN FRANCISCO — The California Department of Industrial Relations, Division of Apprenticeship Standards, which oversees apprentices in public works projects, has issued an order prohibiting Christopher J. Augusto Plumbing Co. of Marin County from bidding on or receiving any public works contracts for three years.

SAN FRANCISCO — The California Department of Industrial Relations, Division of Apprenticeship Standards, which oversees apprentices in public works projects, has issued an order prohibiting Christopher J. Augusto Plumbing Co. of Marin County from bidding on or receiving any public works contracts for three years.

A DAS investigation of complaints filed by Plumbers and Steamfitters, Local Union 159, found that on three projects, Augusto had failed to comply with the requirements for contractors on public works jobs to secure training opportunities for apprentices. The firm also is paying $35,400 in penalties in connection with the complaints.

The three projects are: an expansion of the Greenbrook Elementary School in the San Ramon Unified School District; a remodeling project at Mondavi Farm Labor Camp of the Napa Valley Housing Authority; and a fire station project in Berkeley.

Augusto’s lawyer, Charles Davis, said the violations were the result of faulty bookkeeping and were not intentional. Davis said his client is remorseful and “trying to start again,” noting that the matter is a civil issue and not a criminal one. “He is trying to start a new life and trying to get this thing under way,” he said. “He’s already been in contact with the apprenticeship people to make sure that this doesn’t happen again.”

Augusto had claimed membership in an approved apprenticeship program, but the investigation found it was terminated for failure to pay benefit and training funds, according to the DIR.

“We will continue to vigorously pursue complaints to ensure that California apprentices receive the training on public works projects that is critical to meeting California’s future workforce needs,” said DIR Director John Duncan. The prohibition against Augusto, known as a debarment, took effect on Nov. 6. The debarment denies Augusto, both individually and in the name of his business, the right to bid on or to receive any public works contracts for three years. As part of a settlement agreement between Augusto and the DAS, the firm is allowed to complete four public works projects already under way.

The four public works projects Augusto is permitted to complete are: the new Keyser Building at Tamalpais High School in the Tamalpais Union High School District; a fire station project in Santa Rosa, Calif.; playground and clubhouse renovations at Junipero Serra playground in San Francisco; and a modernization project at Lowell High School in the San Francisco Unified School District.