(Photo courtesy of Denver International Airport)

Fifty-three former shuttle bus drivers at Denver International Airport will split $550,000 in back wages.

The Denver Auditor’s office announced Tuesday it secured the settlement from the subcontractor that operated a shuttle service for construction workers on the recently-completed DIA hotel and lightrail project.

The contractor violated Denver's prevailing wage law, which requires any company doing business with the city to pay its workers at or above a set rate. The idea is to prevent large municipal projects from depressing wages regionally for other construction projects and to get contractors to compete based on quality, not labor costs.

Auditor Tim O’Brien says his office has only managed to contact a half dozen of the drivers so far, but the ones they’ve reached have been delighted.

"Some of them were quite surprised," says O'Brien. "One of them thought that maybe this was a con, that someone was trying to dupe him into something. But we assured him that it was not."

The auditor's office is working to contact the rest of the drivers. Anyone who thinks they might qualify can check online here.

This is the largest settlement to date under the city’s prevailing wage ordinance.

Last month Denver approved an update to the law, making it easier for companies to appeal wages they believe are set too high and giving the auditor new tools to punish contractors that willfully under-pay their employees.