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Traverse City cleaning company underpaid foreign workers

A commercial cleaner in Traverse City has been fined thousands of dollars for labor violations.

Universal Cleaners brought in Mexican workers on a visa program last summer without advertising the jobs locally.

Robert Darling of the U.S. Department of Labor in Grand Rapids says the company shortchanged the foreign workers, sending them home early and paying them well below the prevailing wage.

“They came in with the expectation of getting a certain wage and did not receive that,” he says.

The company is responsible for paying the 10 workers $56,734 in back wages and must also pay $51,309 in penalties.

Darling says it’s pretty common for employers to break these rules, especially in tourist towns where seasonal workers are in high demand.

“There’s a pretty high violation rate,” Darling says. “For every investigation we do under the H-2B program. It’s virtually a 100% violation rate.”