Electrician’s Wage for Electrician’s Work; Everything Else is Exempt?

Dear Compliance Man,

My buddy and I have spent most of the last year doing electrical work as part of a big school renovation project. Everything was going fine until we got near the end of the project and switched over from wiring to installing equipment like flat-paneled TVs, sound systems. When we noticed that our paychecks were smaller, we approached him and were told that we don’t get the electrician’s rate anymore because we’re done with the electrical work. Is this really true?

–Wired Out West

Dear Wired,

The short answer to your question is ‘no.’

Unfortunately, in my years answering questions from construction workers, I’ve encountered too many examples of just what you’ve described. And while contractors typically blame confusion over prevailing wage laws, the mistake seems to always result in the worker being paid less than what he or she is owed. Roofers, for example, are still roofers even if they’re moving up and down the ladder or hauling equipment to the roof site.

In your case, the rate you receive is based on the collective bargaining agreement that covers your particular trade. In other words, while the specifics of your job may change from day to day, you remain an electrician throughout and that’s the rate at which you should be paid.

The good news is that you’re most likely entitled to back pay—and the FFCM would be happy to help you get it. Give us a call at 1-877-507-3247, email us at info@ffcm.org, or fill out this electronic form.

For more commonly asked Compliance Man questions, visit the Compliance Man archives. Send your question to info@ffcm.org.