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White Lodging to repay waived fees to city

Wednesday, September 30, 2015 by Nora Ankrum

The Workers Defense Project/Proyecto Defensa Laboral declared victory Tuesday after The Austin Chronicle reported that the city had bested White Lodging Services Corp. in a long-running dispute over wages. As Chronicle reporter Michael King noted, Thursday’s City Council consent agenda shows that White Lodging will be repaying the city $2.4 million in fees that were initially waived for construction of the JW Marriott downtown. According to an announcement from the Workers Defense Project, “In 2011, White Lodging Services Corps. agreed to pay construction workers prevailing wages in exchange for millions of dollars in City of Austin fee waivers. … In 2013, Workers Defense Project and other community groups alerted Austin City Council that despite receiving the fee waivers, White Lodging was not requiring prevailing wages on their Marriott project.” In apparent agreement, White Lodging will not only be returning those fees, but it will be dropping a lawsuit against the city related to the matter; the city will be dismissing its countersuit in return. “This agreement is a victory for Austin construction workers and taxpayers,” announced the Workers Defense Project. “With this settlement, Austin is holding White Lodging accountable for breaking their end of the bargain. Tax breaks must be used responsibly, and in a way that benefits the broader community.”

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