FRAMINGHAM – – The New England Regional Council of Carpenters and Local 336 hosted a demonstration on Thursday April 11, from 4 to 6 p.m., to illuminate the rampant tax fraud tainting the construction industry. The event was hosted at downtown Framingham Common.
City Councilors Mike Rossi (District 6), Judy Grove (District 8), and Mike Cannon (District 4) attended the event.
NERCC Local 336 member and long time Framingham resident Steve Joyce informed attendees on the magnitude of illegal construction employment practices and their impact on Framingham and Massachusetts.
“We are certain that local projects are using dishonest contractors who pay workers under the table,” Joyce said.
Joyce said “These workers don’t get overtime even though they’re working insane hours and no one is paying payroll taxes on them. That means that state and federal taxes, the residents of Framingham, they’re all being cheated. That tax money pays to help schools, veterans, and improvements to local roads and bridges.”
Some local projects that have been accused of these practices have also been awarded millions in incentives.
According to Joyce, “If true, the fact that projects with criminal activity could also be benefiting from tax breaks just adds insult to injury. Residents are footing the bill to get these companies to better the face of Framingham. Developers would be basically stealing money right out of the taxpayer’s pocket if they were hiring contractors who don’t keep honest books.”
Each year labor brokers and contractors cheat their tax obligations by misclassifying their hires and paying an estimated 1.2 million workers ‘off the books,’ robbing taxpayers of up to $2.6 billion through lost federal income, employment taxes, and state income taxes.
These dishonest tactics deprive city, state, and federal budgets of tax dollars and ethical businesses the chance to fairly compete for work.
Local neighborhoods lose funds necessary for school improvements, infrastructure maintenance, veteran assistance, and capacity for first responders.
When employers engage in tax fraud, workers can’t collect unemployment when a job finishes up and they get laid off. When they get hurt, all of the medical costs get paid by the worker and/or the taxpayers, instead of workers comp insurance. They miss out on years of Social Security contributions. Sometimes, employers commit wage theft and refuse to pay or fully pay workers for their work. This not only impacts workers directly, but also indirectly impacts every other taxpayer, since it puts a greater burden on public services.
Together, union carpenters demonstrated with signs and banners, calling for unified action in the industry and increased enforcement at federal, state and local levels.
“This isn’t about just protecting the union,” said Carpenters Local member and 17-year Framingham resident Orly Maldonado.
He said that “This is about standing up for Framingham– our community. The well-being of non-union workers is important because they’re our neighbors. When workers are exploited and the boss gets away with it, it hurts honest contractors who do the job right and pay people fairly. When contractors don’t pay workers comp insurance and taxes, the people of Massachusetts get robbed. Our families and kids get robbed. As a Framingham resident, I’m disgusted by this sleazy behavior.”
Monday, April 15 is the national tax filing deadline.
In conjunction, a demonstration will be held by Carpenters Local 336 during the Celebrate 6 Mile Marathon, from 10 a.m. to noon.
Event participants will educate local residents on illegal construction activity in Framingham by handing out leaflets and putting up banners.
Additional events are being held by other regional councils of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America. Together these groups are working to elevate the conversation around construction industry tax fraud and the associated costs to American taxpayers and their communities.
The New England Regional Council of Carpenters (NERCC) represents 28,000 carpenters, pile drivers, shop and millmen, and floorcoverers working throughout New England and New York state. NERCC is the governing body of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America (UBC), otherwise known as ‘the Carpenters Union.’
Photos by Petroni Media Company.