A report just released by the University of California Berkeley Labor Center reveals that 39 percent of construction worker families nationwide are forced to enroll in one or more safety net programs to make ends meet. That is higher than the 31 percent of all workers enrolled in such programs. The yearly cost to state and federal governments is a staggering $28 billion. Additionally, 31 percent of construction workers lack health insurance coverage, compared to 10 percent of all workers. Researchers attribute their findings to low pay, wage theft and illegal employment practices in the construction industry.
The $28 billion price tag stems from construction families’ reliance on a variety of safety net programs, including adult and children’s Medicaid, the earned income tax credit, temporary assistance for needy families and the supplemental nutrition assistance program.
“This report shows just how outrageous the common, illegal business practices in the construction industry really are,” said Douglas J. McCarron, General President of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America (UBC). “It demonstrates that, not only are cheating contractors hurting construction industry families, but they are pocketing profits at the expense of taxpayers.
“We have a construction industry that rewards low-road employers and turns a blind eye to white collar crimes against blue collar workers. The result is that taxpayers foot the bill.”
Read more in the UBC’s press release.