Wage Issues Halt UConn Facility Construction

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Construction of the University of Connecticut's new $33 million basketball practice facility has been put on hold due to illegal payments to workers by two of the construction companies working on the project.

The Insurance Journal reports that a "surprise inspection found workers were being paid in cash, allegedly [so the companies could] avoid paying taxes and workers' compensation, a state official said" last week.

As a result, two subcontractors, Intext Building Systems of Gastonbury and J&V Contstruction of East Hartford, were ordered to stop working on the project. UConn spokeswoman Stephanie Reitz says the companies' removal from the project would not affect the gym's budget or construction schedule.

"Neither UConn nor its general contractor were aware of the violations alleged by the Department of Labor, nor would we condone any such practices," Reitz told the Insurance Journal.

Gary Pechie, the director of wage and workplace standards for the state Labor Department, says the investigation is not completed, but he said the companies will be billed more than $100,000 to compensate laborers who were paid wages below state-mandated levels. He said the primary contractor bears some responsibility for oversight and could be on the hook for the bill if subcontractors do not pay.

Frederick Hedberg, an attorney for the primary contractor, Enfield Builders, says the company was not aware of the alleged violations and is not liable for any penalties.

The UConn basketball training facility will include separate practice courts for the men's and women's basketball teams, locker rooms, weight rooms, classrooms, a sports medicine center and staff offices. It is expected to be completed this spring.

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