Company in charge of bollards project on Strip accused of illegally 'gaming the system'

Crews install bollards on the Las Vegas Strip on Nov. 13, 2017. (Gai Phalasy/FOX5)

Approval for additional steel posts along the Las Vegas Strip is on hold as Clark County investigates a pay dispute involving Müller Construction.

The Clark County Commission planned on approving the installation of 500 safety bollards Tuesday, but decided to postpone the vote by at least two weeks.

Nevada Foundation for Fair Contracting Director Louis DeSalvio says he has evidence that Müller Construction has been underpaying multiple employees. He said he was on site acting as a compliance officer when he made the discovery.

"I was hoping not to find any infractions whatsoever. You know, we want things to move smoothly here in Nevada," DeSalvio said. "Nine times out of 10, somebody like me has to step in and make sure that these people are compensated."

DeSalvio accused Müller Construction of "gaming the system" by failing to honor prevailing wages required by state laws and regulations pursuant to NRS 338. The project is funded with taxpayer dollars, necessitating the use of a prevailing wage, but DeSalvio said a lot of employees are often too afraid to speak up and risk losing their jobs."That's usually how the contractors get away with doing what they're doing. It's no different than some woman that's being battered. I mean, it's hard for them to come forward because they think it's just going to come back to haunt them in the long run," he said. "We've got to make sure we don't let things slip through the cracks, because them cracks turn into holes and them holes are hard to fill."

DeSalvio said, even though the project requires the installation of steel bollards, he could not find a single iron worker on the company's payroll for the job site.

"Unless they have an iron-worker fairy I haven't found yet," he said. "They can try to kick the can down the road all they want and keep blaming the next guy, but at the end of the day it's going to come down to the owner of that company."

The company's Vice President of Marketing and Sales J.D. Calhoun says it's the first he's heard of the complaint.

"That's usually what everybody says," DeSalvio responded. "It's not my job to inform him of anything... It's his job to do what he agreed to."

The county is unable to continue working with the company until the pay dispute is resolved.

"We're Vegas Strong. We've got to stay that way," DeSalvio said. "We have an image we have to protect, without a doubt, but we also have a right to make sure everybody gets what's owed to them."

Copyright 2018 KVVU (KVVU Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.