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In a Jan. 22 editorial, The News expressed dissatisfaction with the State Labor Department for its enforcement of the Public Work Law. While not commenting on any specific case, I can say something about enforcement of the law.

Public Work Law covers the wages and benefits paid to workers on construction projects undertaken by government entities.

The law is designed to ensure that all contractors bidding on public work projects have an equal playing field. That means paying the prevailing rate for skilled work. As a matter of both law and policy, we do not tolerate those who try to cheat workers out of wages and benefits.

The State Labor Department's enforcement of the law is fair, equitable and clearly spelled out. It's all too easy to criticize the work of our investigative team when you know only some of the facts. Our investigators are well-trained, objective and thorough, as a full review of any of our investigations makes abundantly clear.

All of the information that contractors need to comply with the law is readily available from the State Department of Labor Bureau of Public Work and from our Web site.

Contractors are expected to know and comply with the law and to be forthcoming with information when the law requires it. Most contractors, both union and nonunion, understand this. Those who attempt to underpay workers and obstruct investigations are subject to penalties and withholding of money owed to workers.

Last year, the Labor Department collected more than $4.5 million in wages, wage supplements and interest, which was distributed directly to the employees involved. The well-being of the workers and their families depends on receipt of these wages.

The Public Work Law protects both workers and the public, and the Labor Department will continue to enforce it, fairly and firmly, in the public interest.

Acting commissioner of labor

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