Call to the Hall! Ohio Carpenters To Rally Against Tax Fraud at Columbus City Hall

Ohio carpenters & their families will rally outside of the Columbus City Hall on Monday, April 15th from 11 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. to shine a spotlight on the corrupt practices of illegitimate contractors who steal billions of dollars from our communities – money that should be spent on education, public safety, and infrastructure. Tax fraud is just one aspect of the illegal business practices plaguing the Ohio construction industry, along with wage theft, independent contractor misclassification, and workers’ compensation insurance fraud.

The Indiana Kentucky Ohio Regional Council of Carpenters (IKORCC) will join area members in the fight to crack down on these destructive and illegal business practices at the Columbus City Hall. The IKORCC hopes the event will bring awareness of the damage tax fraud causes in Ohio and encourage the Columbus City Council to take action to stop it.

The fraud comes when workers are paid off the books by shady subcontractors and labor brokers, who are hired by contractors to underbid law-abiding businesses. Fraud happens on all types of projects, including taxpayer-funded projects —, which means we all lose.  Rampant cheating in the construction industry makes it difficult to repair roads, bridges and schools, care for veterans and shore up Medicare and Social Security.

Construction industry tax fraud and related crimes and violations are happening every day on large-scale projects, costing Ohio communities an estimated $248 million dollars in state and local taxes.

Recovering unpaid tax dollars in Ohio could pay for:

  • 7,937 teachers
  • 325 miles of resurfaced highways
  • 49% increase in school construction/ renovation

The April 15th rally in Columbus is part of the nationwide Construction Industry Tax Fraud Days of Action by the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America to raise awareness and generate action against tax fraud and related crimes.

Residential construction industry built on ‘payroll fraud’ model

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – Jose Ramirez had never heard the term “wage theft,” but he knew he was being cheated when a roofing subcontractor refused to pay him.

“We finished a couple houses, roofing houses, and we tried to collect the money and the guy said, ‘I haven’t gotten paid by our boss,'” he recalls. “That was a big project. I mean, we were shingling one house, putting back shingles, moving to the next one, and eventually there was two of them where I did not get paid. I told the guy, ‘That’s it. I can’t keep working until you pay me those two houses.'”

“So they stop answering the phone, you start chasing them for the money, and then suddenly, they disappear . . . and there you go – you got two weeks without pay . . . So you have to figure out how you’re going to support your family.”

Today, Ramirez is one of the lucky ones. After seeing a billboard advertising the carpenters union, he called and signed up. He spent several years with a reputable contractor and just recently became an instructor in the training center operated by the North Central States Regional Council of Carpenters.

Looking back, Ramirez realizes that not getting paid to roof two houses was just the tip of the iceberg. He was being cheated every day on the job, forced to work long hours without overtime pay. Often, he never got a paystub to track whether or not he was being paid for all the hours he worked.

Fortunately, he did not get injured on the job. Even though construction employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance, untold numbers of injured workers have been fired, left to try to get medical help on their own.

“Back in the day, I didn’t know that you had those rights,” said Ramirez. “I have friends who still work the same way. Depending on the situation that they have, some people don’t think they have a choice but to work that way. People have to make a living.”

Tens of thousands of construction workers are victims of wage theft in Minnesota ever year, but no one knows the exact number. Some of the workers are undocumented and afraid to come forward. Many, regardless of their background or citizenship status, simply don’t know that they are being cheated.

Minnesota Department of Labor & Industry: An Evaluation of the Contractor Registration Pilot Project and the Misclassification of Workers in the Construction Industry

Read More

Source: Workday Minnesota