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April 5, 2024 | Area Standards

“We Take Our Responsibility To Serve The Public Very Seriously”

We Take Our Responsibility To Serve The Public Very Seriously 

By Kris Putrelo
Putrelo Building Enterprises
New Hartford, New York

Our company has been in business in the Utica area of central New York State for more than 18 years in commercial construction. We operate as a general contractor on many jobs, and we can work as a specialty subcontractor; everything from ground-up construction to renovations. Some of our projects include a Mazda dealership, a veterinary clinic and the Turning Stone Resort and Casino.

The first thing you see on our website is our motto: “Quality Construction Doesn’t Cost. It Pays.” We truly believe this, and we see it proven all around us. We have always taken great pride in ensuring our employees are paid appropriately.

Just recently I’ve been noticing a carwash under construction nearby. Driving past I was seeing workers without supervision, without proper safety equipment, working on the roof on a jobsite that didn’t look safe. Sure enough, those workers ended up using jackhammers to demolish some of the work they had done—and the facility still hasn’t opened for business. That type of thing happens when crews are exploited, underpaid and not properly trained.

Many of our projects are on publicly funded, prevailing wage jobsites. For example, we have contracted with every school district in this area over the years, doing renovations and additions. We take our responsibility to serve the public very seriously.

We abide by the rules and we’re careful to meet bid requirements and comply with our contracts. We document daily who is on the payroll, on every jobsite, to make sure everyone is getting paid what they’re entitled to. It takes diligent record-keeping and work by our superintendents and all of us.

That can put us at a disadvantage in bidding, but we believe that all employers are responsible for paying their employees decent wages and benefits that can give them a good, middle-class life. This is what we signed up for.

Too many contractors want to get rich without doing right by their employees. Recently we served as general contractor for a job at a local school district. The flooring subcontractor on the job was not a union signatory and we discovered that she had hired workers as “independent contractors.”

This subcontractor had signed the school district’s agreement to pay workers at a certain level and provide benefits, and our contract clearly spelled out the obligations. It is our responsibility as the general contractor to make sure all the employees on the project are paid according to the established project prevailing wage schedule.

We withheld payment to this subcontractor until she provided proper payments to employees, certified payrolls and insurance certifications for her second-tier subcontractor.

For us, this is the least we can do. It takes work to maintain a proper system, but it’s good, fair, right and just for everyone.

Editor’s Note: The Tax Fraud Days of Action campaign is winning victories, including enactment of upper-tier liability laws in New York, eight other states and the District of Columbia. But misclassification and off-the-books employment remains at crisis levels across the U.S. and Canada. A report by The Century Foundation found that, in New York State alone, nearly 16 percent of construction workers are misclassified and up to 120,911 workers are misclassified or paid off the books yearly.