"How can the public agencies monitoring job sites [believe] certified payroll stating construction workers worked 16 hours a week to complete a school?" he asked. "Scrutiny has to be more than just looking at what the contractor turns in. There have to be effective policies in place to protect the workers, public agencies, and the taxpayers."
According to Oakland labor lawyer Ellyn Moscowitz -- who has filed a class-action suit against NBC on behalf of roughly 200 allegedly defrauded workers -- the contractor worked at least three jobs on behalf of San Francisco in recent years: At the Mission Neighborhood Center, the Moscone Club House, and at Sanchez Middle School (for the San Francisco Unified School District). The city controller's office has not yet answered our query of whether an investigation will be launched to determine if NBC committed any wrongdoing during these jobs. The $4.8 million Moscone job, meanwhile, was approved by the city's Parks and Recreation Department in 2006 over the objections of the Local No. 22 Carpenters' Union -- which noted that NBC was under investigation across the Bay.
Paul Cohen, the director of public and governmental relations for the Northern California Carpenters' Union, said he'd be surprised if fraud of the sort NBC is accused of committing in the East Bay wasn't carried out here, too.
"When somebody's got 40 felony charges, it appears to be a pattern of behavior," he said. "If the allegations are correct, they've taken it to a whole new level."
Uno -- like other labor leaders before him -- had harsh words for Ung's top legal hired gun -- former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown. The IBEW boss points out that the statute of limitations for fraud of the sort Ung is accused of is only four years. Yet ads the union ran in Chinese-language newspapers turned up a number of workers who claim they were defrauded years ago.
"If it's true that Monica Ung has been defrauding workers for many years, money she obtained from ill-gotten gains is now going to very expensive lawyers -- and that's unfortunate," said Uno, who further charged Brown with accepting "blood money."
Brown also came in for criticism from his fellow members of the bar. "The money paid to someone at a Willie Brown-level really could be used as restitution for the workers," Moscowitz says. "I'm concerned that by the time our case goes to trial, [Ung] will be in jail. Now that [Brown] is out of the political limelight, he'll sink as low as possible and take money from anybody."
Brown has not yet returned a message from SF Weekly -- or any other potentially critical media outlets. He was quoted in the column of his fellow San Francsico Chronicle employees, Matier & Ross, with a snide redjoinder to criticism from the California Labor Federation's Art Pulaski: "Obviously Mr. Pulaski doesn't believe in equal justice. This woman is entitled to full and quality representation, and I intend to give it to her. I'd even defend Mr. Pulaski -- If he could afford me."
SF Weekly has not yet been able to determine the years of all the city's contracts with NBC (the Moscone pact was approved in '06). So it is unclear if any of these contracts were meted out during Brown's tenure as mayor.