The installation of 7,500 vehicle bollards along the Las Vegas Strip, intended to protect pedestrians from cars, is in limbo.

The work was due to be finished by year-end, but a prevailing wage complaint has held up work on the Clark County, Nev., project.

A local union filed the complaint over wages and other incidents. In reply, the contractor has filed a defamation lawsuit in state court in Clark County against the union leadership.

Las Vegas-based Müller Construction, an open-shop employer, completed the multiphase plan's first stage from November to late December 2017, installing several hundred 4-ft-high bollards. Manufactured by Gibraltar of Marble Falls, Texas, the bollards include shallow and standard foundations designed to withstand the impact of a 15,000-lb medium-duty vehicle traveling at 50 mph.

Clark County was set to vote on awarding the $2.5-million second phase to Müller Construction on Jan. 2 but tabled the contract after receiving a prevailing wage complaint from the Nevada Foundation for Fair Contracting on phase. Officials of laborers' Local 872 make up the foundation's board of directors.

The county subsequently conducted an audit that revealed 14 workers had been underpaid and 14 had been overpaid. According to a Jan. 28 letter from Clark County, employees were underpaid $3,297 and overpaid $5,489.

Full Cooperation

Attorney Robert Kern says Müller cooperated fully with the audit and that payments to the underpaid workers have been issued. Noting that there was significant overlap among employees who were overpaid and underpaid, Kern says Müller's discrepancies occurred mainly in determining downtime wages for employees who filled multiple job roles.

Kern says the defamation lawsuit was filed Jan. 18 because the foundation and union are seeking to soil Müller's reputation in an effort to get the nonunion contractor booted from the job.

"We do not have direct evidence one way or another, but we feel that the issue is with a nonunion shop getting too big," Kern says.

Officials for the Nevada Foundation for Fair Contracting and laborers' Local 872 declined to comment to ENR.

Defamation Charge

The defamation suit claims that the union and the foundation has defamed Müller Construction by putting up signs at the firm's offices and jobsites, as well as filing complaints not just with Clark County but also the Nevada Labor Commission and the National Labor Relations Board.

"The contracts have to be approved by politicians and politicians are very aware of public perception," Kern says.

The $2.5-million second phase from Tropicana Avenue to Spring Mountain Road is now waiting on the Nevada Labor Commission's review of the Clark County audit. The Clark County Commission has a tentative date of March 6 on its agenda to discuss the bollard construction contract, according to Erik Pappa, county spokesperson.