When the city broke ground on the $50 million Buckeye Trail Commons housing development, everyone grabbed a shovel. Never mind that they were all wearing business suits; this was supposed to be the beginning of a renaissance in the Bonton neighborhood that had until recently been burdened with the notorious Turner Courts housing project. So, Mayor Mike Rawlings, Councilman Dwaine Caraway and a handful of other officials flung a ceremonial shovelful of dirt. And then they left.
The real work of building Buckeye Commons' 322 affordable housing units fell to the contractor, the Siltek Group, or, rather, to the employees of Siltek's various subcontractors. They have done good work. Some of those workers now say they haven't been paid.
According to a news release from the nonprofit Workers Defense Project, five workers who put up siding in January and February are still owed more than $4,000 for their work.
WDP says it notified Siltek of the issue in March but was told that the company had no knowledge of the subcontractor. This, the group says, is a violation of state and federal labor laws and of Siltek's contract with the Dallas Housing Authority.
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Luis López, one of the workers in question, says in the release, "We held up our end of the bargain, our employers should hold up theirs."
Such treatment is not uncommon. A study published earlier this year by WDP and UT-Austin concluded that one in four local construction workers is denied payment for his work.
Siltek's Florida headquarters was closed when we tried to reach it. We'll update when we hear back.