The problem of workers in the construction industry being misclassified a independent contractors rather than employees is not only bad for workers, it's bad for honest companies trying to compete. It's also bad for state and federal governments, who are robbed of proper revenue.
The New England Regional Council of Carpenters is one of many groups in Massachusetts working to defeat a ballot question that would eliminate the income tax. That's 40% of the state budget. Bridges, roads, schools, police, fire, courts? Yes, they'd all take a hit.
A few saturdays ago, the Boston Herald ran a prominent story about recent activity by the union to highlight problems associated with Avalon Bay projects. The union has been demonstrating in front of an Avalon Bay project in Hingham, educating the public there about the misclassification of workers on Avalon Bay sites. They are also talking about numerous OSHA safety violations on Avalon Bay sites connected to fall safety that generated citations. Fines were issued just months before a worker was killed in a fall on an Avalon Bay site.
The Center for Economic and Policy Research has released a study that concludes union membership is a significant benefit for low-wage workers. The study examined wage data and union status population of workers in a five year period from 2003-2007 gathered from the Census Bureau??s Current Population Survey.
The report indicates that while workers at mid and higher level wage groups also benefit from union membership, low wage workers get the biggest benefit. The wage benefit derived from union membership for that group was estimated to be 20.6%.
"Unionization raises wages for all workers, but unions have by far the biggest impact on the wages of the lowest-paid workers," said John Schmitt, a Senior Economist at CEPR and the author of the study."Unions give the biggest boost to low-wage workers because these are the workers that have the least bargaining power in the labor market," Schmitt said. "Unionization has a large and measurable impact on the bargaining power, and therefore the wages, of low-wage workers."