PPI….HUD…DBA…and Of Course…Labor


For some time now many have wondered how the Davis-Bacon Act (DBA ) affects the Property Preservation Industry (PPI). Many think it has no bearing on the PI unless an individual property goes over X-amount of money.
One of those people, IMHO, has misinterpreted the wording of the act. Gene O’Neil, VP of For What It’s Worth, feels that the DBA is only in play if the “bid” is over $2000.00. Mr. O’Neill has been an outspoken voice for Labor in South Florida these past couple years…

Mr. O’Neill was also a key player in assisting a former member of the National Association of Mortgage Field Services, Bret Douglas, in establishing FAST. An organization designed to assist Labor. I caught up with Bret thus past week and talked about “diversification”, before we get to that conversation lets us address the DBA and the precise wording that puts it in play when any if you sign a contract with the Federal Government, or are completing work for a government agency.
The exact wording us as follows…

The Davis-Bacon Act, as amended, requires that each contract over $2,000 to which the United States or the District of Columbia is a party for the construction, alteration, or repair of public buildings or public works shall contain a clause setting forth the minimum wages to be paid to various classes of laborers and …

Notice the word is contract…not bid…many may not know this but there are cases in the courts over this issue. I said it six years ago and I will say it again. Those that actually have payroll records will come out ok. Those without…you have left a tremendous amount of money on the table. I have been screaming…pay yourself at the end of the week…many think I enjoy hearing my annoying ass talk.
The reality is:

I. Without paying yourself you have no way of knowing exactly how much a service costs to complete
II. You are not paying into your SSI fund
III. You are not paying UEID fund and will not be eligible for Unemployment benefits should you suddenly find yourself with no work.
IV. You’re not paying taxes.
V. You LOSE a serious tax deduction.

Now none of that may be all that important until you’re audited. However, when it comes to making a claim against AMS, PK Management, Asons, or any other Order Mill that carried and serviced the HUD contract, do I really need to spell it out??? If you have no payroll records because you don’t have employees because “YOU complete all the work”, well you have nothing to claim.
Here us how this works. If…in this case more like “when” the contract goes over $2000.00 DBA kicks in. Now the argument becomes, is the contract you sign with an order mill worth more than $2,000.00??? This becomes extremely important to you as a business owner paying Labor. Under the DBA Labor should be paid what is called “prevailing wage”,(PW).
Now PW is different for every skilled trade. In addition to the Federal guide lines for PW, most states have their own rules and laws governing PW. For example, the PW rates under the DBA  in California are higher than Nevada because of cost of living differences. Nevada PW laws in compliance with the DBA read in part,

Prevailing Wage Rates include the base rate as well as all applicable fringes.
NRS 338.010(21) “Wages” means:
(a) The basic hourly rate of pay; and
(b) The amount of pension, health and welfare, vacation and holiday pay, the cost of apprenticeship training or other similar programs or other bona fide fringe benefits which are a benefit to the workman.

NRS 338.035 Discharge of part of obligation of contractor or subcontractor engaged on public work to pay wages by making certain contributions in name of workman. The obligation of a contractor engaged on a public work or a subcontractor engaged on a public work to pay wages in accordance with the determination of the Labor Commissioner may be discharged in part by making contributions to a third person pursuant to a fund, plan or program in the name of the workman.
In accordance with AB 172:
The Labor Commissioner shall determine the prevailing wage to be 90 percent of the rate determined pursuant to paragraphs (a), (b) and (c) for:
(1) Any contract for a public work or any other construction, alteration, repair, remodeling or reconstruction of an improvement or property to which a school district or the Nevada System of Higher Education is a party; and
(2) A public work of, or constructed by, a school district or the Nevada System of Higher Education, or any other construction, alteration, repair, remodeling or reconstruction of an improvement or property of or constructed by a school district or the Nevada System of Higher Education.

That tells us what type of work under the DBA  will classified eligible for PW pay scale. But let’s get back to the issue. Your contract. Currently the argument in the ccout is

the contract in it’s entirety, taken as a whole is worth well over $2,000.00.

Of course the other side of the equation is each work order is a single contract, which is what the NAMFS. Offender Members are claiming. The rebuttal?????
It is the contract that was originally bid. In the original bid the order mill (what is called the awardee), should be bidding and allowing for the DBA in the cost if completing the job.

And as the Bard would say…There in lies the rub.
I have long stated if you want me to assist you in fulfilling your contractual obligations I need to be part of the negotiation process. While Mr. O’Neill has been vocal for Labor, unlike Mr. Douglas who has diversified and stopped assisting NAMFS financially, Mr. O’Neil continues to support the organization. And although he is a rational voice for labor in the PPI, I have to disagree with him on what he claims… this is a bid issue. It is far from a bid issue, as the wording states it’s a contract issue. Hope you keep good employment records. If you don’t already pay yourself, start. If you need assistance understanding how that works get a hold of me, it’s a pretty easy fix for your company. For more Information on the subject.

Can a company diversify in the PPI and make it selling the same services???

Well to answer that question a couple industry veterans. I caught up with both Bret Douglas if Ironclad Preservation and Matt Steffen.

Bret Douglas...Founder Ironclad Preservation Inc.
Bret Douglas…Founder Ironclad Preservation Inc.

Bret Douglas;
How are this g shaping up for Team Ironclad now that you no longer depend on PPI work as the majority of incoming revenues?
Bret: We are extremely happy that Team Ironclad took the liberty to diversify. If we had not started that process we would not have survived this year.

Sales and volumes in preservation work have plummeted. The inventory has all but dried up.
How grim were things?
Bret: We as a team were faced with losing our compound due to a two year construction delay. We finally have settled that issue and are pleased to be moving into a new much larger facility by Jan first. Our new address will have two warehouses side by side,7500 main and 3000 for the equipment. Almost 11,000 sqft for our three enterprises
You diversified into three departments?
Bret: We have split our firm into three sections.
Team ironclad is comprised of preservation, landscape management and FAST association.
Essentially providing PPI. Services to the public, so when will we hear about a new FAST event?
Bret: We are shooting for a February or March fast event as with the move we are unable to pull off a fall event
When I spoke with Matt, of course the conversation included a couple questions about the HIPR service NAMFS offender members were demanding be completed with unqualified personal and in an extremely dangerous manner. Many of you may remember Matt sent the service specs into OSHA, being this was for HUD, naturally OSHA asked if someone was crazy???
Matt was one of the first in the industry to diversify and seek private sector clients.
So how have things been since you diversified??
Matt: We diversified upon necessity. Their are virtually NO foreclosures here in Montana. 64 in the entire state last month to be exact. That said, we do provide the same services to the private sector
When you heard the news from Foreclosurepedia, what were your thoughts?
Matt: When Paul told me the news I was glad it finally came to light and people will now be held accountable.
Oh come on now there has to be a tiny little part of you jumping up and down…
Yes I’m ecstatic!!!
I know that last sentence is said in jest. Matt as myself Paul Williams and all the others that refused to complete this dangerous and in many places illegal practice of back-feeding electricity into a home, well truth is folks, those that refused got a black mark but we all acted in the best interests of our employees and our companies.
No amount of money is worth sacrificing your employees health nor your companies integrity.

Until Next Time…
Happy Gardening

Monsanto Tribunal Update From OCA

ronnie_and_vandana_322x250The Monsanto Tribunal

On October 14-16, over a thousand activists, journalists and witnesses from around the world gathered in The Hague, Netherlands, headquarters of the International Court of Justice, to put Monsanto on trial for crimes against humanity and nature (“ecocide”). Before a distinguished international panel of judges, 30 witnesses—including farmers, consumers, scientists, indigenous people and former governmental officials—from Asia, Africa, Australia, Europe, North and South America, delivered detailed and shocking testimony on how Monsanto and its agribusiness accomplices have poisoned the environment and devastated public health.

Victims and witnesses described how, over the past 50 years, Monsanto has duped, assaulted, injured and killed farmers, farmworkers, rural villagers and urban consumers with its reckless use of toxic chemicals and pesticides (PCBs, DDT, Agent Orange, Dioxin, Roundup, 2,4D), and Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). The insidious political clout and growing control over the world’s seeds and food by Monsanto and a new global agribusiness cartel constitute a serious, indeed catastrophic, threat to our health as well as to the health of our soils, watersheds, oceans, wetlands, forests and climate.

Monsanto’s chemical- and fossil fuel-intensive GMO crops (corn, soy, cotton, canola, sugar beets, eggplant, potatoes, alfalfa, and others) and the toxic pesticides used to grow them are now polluting 400 million acres in 28 nations, comprising almost 10 percent of the world’s croplands. As a result, GMO ingredients and pesticide residues now contaminate much, if not most, of the world’s (non-organic) processed foods, animal feed, meat, dairy and poultry. Meanwhile GMO soya and chemical-intensive palm oil plantations, commodities utilized for junk food, animal feed, cosmetics and biofuels, are the primary driving forces of the tropical deforestation that threatens to smother the literal lungs of the planet, as well as most of the planet’s biodiversity.

From Sri Lanka, India, Argentina, Bangladesh, China, the Philippines, Argentina, Paraguay, Brazil, Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador, Nigeria, Uganda, South Africa, and dozens of other nations, including the industrialized nations of the North, the same tragic, brutal, criminal, narrative emerged: Monsanto, aided and abetted by its shareholders and business allies, has deliberately poisoned people, communities and the environment in order to maximize profits. Meanwhile, indentured scientists, politicians and mass media—Monsanto’s minions—have done little or nothing to stop this mass homicide and ecocide.

For 20 years, Monsanto, with its army of lawyers and PR flacks, has spread lies in the mass media and scientific journals; intimidated or sued farmers and scientific critics; and infiltrated or bribed politicians, regulatory officials and academics. As the Corporate Europe Observatory put it:

Corporations like Monsanto have limitless resources to buy political power through lobbying. Not only are they represented by numerous lobbying associations at every level from local to global, they also have an army of hired gun lobbyists, fund scientists to act as their mouthpiece, and participate in ‘greenwashing’ projects.’

In addition, Monsanto has routinely carried out acts of biopiracy—robbing indigenous communities and traditional farmers of their knowledge, plants, and seeds and then patenting these life forms as their corporate “intellectual property.” Overturning or simply ignoring national laws, common law, farmer and consumer rights, and international trade and environmental norms, Monsanto and the other, now merging, chemical-biotech giants (Dow, Dupont, Syngenta, ChinaChem, Bayer, BASF) have essentially organized themselves into a powerful and monopolistic global cartel.

This Monsanto-led cartel, drawing comparisons to the Nazi I.G. Farben cartel of the 1930s and 40s, has managed to gain a certain degree of public, media and scientific acceptance by repeating its “big lies” over and over again in the mass media, including: (1) toxic industrial and agricultural chemicals are safe; (2) seeds and life forms can legitimately be patented and monopolized; (3) GMO crops use less pesticides and chemicals; (4)  GMO crops are the only way to feed the world; (5) genetically engineered crops and trees and the chemicals sprayed or laced into them are climate friendly; and (6) Foods derived from GMOs are “substantially equivalent” to non-GMOs.

By destroying the health and livelihoods of literally millions of people, Monsanto has earned the dubious distinction of being the most hated corporation on Earth. No wonder the Biotech Bully of St. Louis is currently trying to change its name and bury the historical record of 115 years of crime and mayhem by merging with the giant chemical, biotech, and pharmaceutical giant, Bayer.

Monsanto refused to appear and testify at the Tribunal, despite being served with a citizens’ subpoena in St. Louis. But on December 10, the Tribunal judges plan to issue legal advisory opinions based upon international law, including the category of human rights violations that fall under the category of “ecocide.”

For more coverage of the Monsanto Tribunal, click here.

The Monsanto People’s Assembly

The People's Assembly at the Monsanto Tribunal at the Hague

While the Monsanto Tribunal was busy putting the multinational corporation on trial under international law, a few miles away across the city, 500 global activists participated in the People’s Assembly, where they discussed how to further expose Monsanto and its industrial agriculture collaborators in the court of public opinion.

The Assembly held three days of interactive workshops on how to strengthen national and international public education, and how to use boycotts and marketplace pressure campaigns to undermine and destroy Monsanto’s profitability and eventually drive it (and companies like it) off the market. The People’s Assembly was organized and funded by a broad coalition of organizations including Regeneration International, Navdanya (a grassroots based organization in India founded by Vandana Shiva), IFOAM Organics, Organic Consumers Association, Biovision, Via Campesina, Corporate European Observatory, and others.

Ultimately the People’s Assembly agreed that we need to not only get rid of Monsanto, but the entire degenerative system of food, farming and land use that is driving global warming, catastrophic droughts and floods, soil erosion, desertification, water shortages, mass biodiversity loss, rural poverty and war, and deteriorating public health.

Leading farmer and campaign activists around the world led the workshops on GMOs, pesticides, seeds, corporate accountability, agroecology and regenerative agriculture. Sessions included: How to Ban GMOs Worldwide; Strategies and Campaigns to Ban Pesticides and Toxic Chemicals; Steps Toward Seed Freedom and Struggles Against Unjust Seed Laws; How to Hold Transnational Corporations Responsible for their Acts; and How We Can Mitigate and Reverse Global Warming and Feed the World.

Hare some of the major strategy ideas that came out of the workshops and plenaries:

(1) Globalize the Struggle. There’s no way to bring the Monsanto and industrial agriculture cartel to heel without organizing and successfully carrying out powerful, global, strategically designed campaigns, both in the marketplace and in the realm of public policy.

Local and even national campaigns no longer suffice. For example, the mass destruction of the Amazon rainforest, the environment and public health currently taking place in South American countries such as Brazil, Paraguay, Colombia and Argentina, brought on by the out-of-control production of GMO soya and corn and the reckless use of pesticides such as Monsanto’s Roundup (glyphosate), Syngenta’s atrazine and paraquat, and Bayer’s glufosinate, can be stopped only by a global North-South campaign that strengthens resistance at home, but also shuts off market demand for these GMO animal feeds in the nations where they are exported.

South Americans cannot possibly stop the deadly production of these pesticide-intensive GMOs in their own countries without the support of activists and consumers in the countries (especially China and Europe) that are importing billions of dollars of these animal feeds for their domestic factory farm production of meat, dairy and poultry. If proper laboratory testing of these GMO animal feeds can be carried out, in combination with testing for the poisons that end up in the EU and China’s meat, dairy and poultry products that are derived from them, then a mass consumer boycott can possibly be organized. Reinforcing this marketplace pressure, groups can simultaneously press for laws requiring the labeling of meat and animal products derived from GMO- and pesticide-tainted feeds. Alongside these market-based campaigns we’ll need to continue our global effort to stop cartel-friendly Free Trade agreements such as the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) and the TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership), and to enact a global ban on GMO companion pesticides, such as Roundup/glyphosate.

(2) Globalize Hope. A recurrent theme at the People’s Assembly was the need to move beyond gloom and doom and to emphasize that regenerative food, farming and land use (utilizing agro-ecology, organic, agro-forestry and holistic grazing techniques) not only can mitigate global warming, deteriorating public health, rural poverty, environmental destruction and endless war, but actually reverse these trends. One of the lesser known positive developments in the world today is that 25-50 million farmers and ranchers (5-10 percent of all producers) are already practicing regenerative agriculture practices, sucking down and sequestering massive amounts of excess carbon from the atmosphere and safely storing it in the soil, grasslands, forest and wetlands through improved soil management, crop biodiversity, reforestation and conservation. Strengthening this regenerative agriculture movement are hundreds of millions of conscious consumers who are starting to reject GMO and factory farmed foods and are choosing organic, grass-fed, local and regenerative foods instead.

(3) Connect the Dots. Tear Down the Walls and Issue Silos that Divide the Global Grassroots. Coming out of the Monsanto People’s Assembly and Tribunal is a growing commitment among activists all over the world to move beyond language and cultural barriers, beyond national and continental borders, beyond single-issue campaigning, and to begin building a new 21st Century Internationale based on mutual solidarity and concrete cooperation in globally coordinated campaigns. Given the catastrophic consequences of “business as usual,” and continued domination by the global “1 percent,” we can no longer afford to operate as separate movements—the anti-GMO movement, the organic movement, the Fair Trade movement, the economic justice movement, the climate movement, the forest movement, the ocean movement, and the anti-war movement. Nor can we operate as regional or national movements of farmers, workers, students and consumers.

We must connect the dots between interrelated issues and we must work together, from the local to the international level, with fellow leaders of the global grassroots who see the “big picture.” Harnessing the enormous power of the global grassroots, we can build a new diverse Regenerative Movement strong enough and inspirational enough to overturn the dictatorship of Monsanto and the global elite. Coming out of Monsanto Tribunal and People’s Assembly at The Hague there is a new sense of urgency and determination. A critical mass of us are ready to embark on this Long March of resistance, movement-building and regeneration.


Ronnie Cummins is international director of the Organic Consumers Association and a member of the Regeneration International steering committee.

This has been reprinted with permission. Thank you Ronnie..

See full story here








Until Next Time…

Happy Gardening

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