Pictured from left: Francis Callahan, Jr. of the MA Building Trades Council, Mark Erlich of the New England Regional Council of Carpenters, George Noel of the state Dept. of Labor and Assistant Attorney General Jennifer Stark.Submitted by Charles Lezette on May 30, 2008 - 11:22am.
On Mon., April 28, George Noel, Director of the Massachusetts Department of Labor [pdf] and Assistant Attorney General Jennifer Stark [pdf] gave testimony and a progress report on the state's new Joint Enforcement Task Force on the Underground Economy and Employee Misclassification at a field hearing conducted by US Senator John Kerry in Chelsea.
"Cheaters and unscrupulous employers have created an underground economy as big as $1 trillion. Worse, workers right here in Massachusetts are being taken advantage of and not getting the benefits and protections they deserve," said Kerry.
Participating in the hearing with Kerry was US Congressman John Tierney (D-Salem), co-author of the Taxpayer Responsibility, Accountability and Consistency (TRAC) Act, which seeks to discourage employers from misclassifying workers by allowing the IRS to collect the unpaid taxes from the employer. In addition, the bill would increase fines for misclassifications. Frank Callahan, President of the Massachusetts Building Trades Council [pdf] gave testimony in support of TRAC.
"This is a problem that is severe and is getting worse," said Mark Erlich, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the UBC's New England Regional Council [pdf] who testified on the negative effects of misclassification. Erlich added that it was encouraging to finally see the problem getting greater public visibility.
Business owners also attended the hearing. Sara Stafford, a Saugus construction business owner shared her personal experience of being underbid by a contractor using misclassified workers and illegals. Scott Morrisey of Red Line Wall Systems, Inc. gave this overview [pdf].
Ask your US Representative to support H.R. 5804, the Taxpayer Responsibility, Accountability, and Consistency Act.
Charles Lazette is a contributer/Administrator of Union Review and a politically active member of UBC local 370 in upstate New York, he also runs his website UBCNewsroom, go check it out and keep up to date with the latest misclassification headlines in the US and other news that affects workers in the area