The following is a press release submitted to SOURCE media.
FRAMINGHAM – Members of Carpenters Local 336 along with State Representatives Jack Patrick Lewis and Maria Robinson, and members of Framingham’s City Council will rally on Route 9 in Framingham on Wednesday, April 14 to bring attention to the issue of tax fraud in construction and the need for Massachusetts legislators and Governor to pass wage theft and tax fraud legislation immediately.
The rally will take place at the site of a new hotel being constructed at at 130 Worcester Road from 4:30 to 5;30 p.m.
Tax fraud often goes hand in hand with wage theft. For this reason, the Carpenters Union in Massachusetts is using the tax fraud that occurred on this project to bring attention to State House Bills SD 774 and HD 967. These bills, put forward by Sen. Sal DiDomenico (Everett) and Rep. Dan Donahue (Worcester) would increase protections for workers and give the Mass. Attorney General greater powers to fight these issues. Too often, stories of tax fraud stretch across projects, cities
and state lines. Project owners could eliminate tax fraud, but too often it is a profitable business model they’re unwilling to reject.
After meeting with four carpenters that worked on the construction of Jamsan Hotel Management Group’s new Aloft by Marriott at 130 Worcester Rd. in Framingham organizers with Carpenters Local 336 began efforts to address tax fraud occurring at this project.
The Jamsan Hotel Management Group owns or operates over 50 hotels throughout New England.
Unfortunately, in its role as a developer for some of these hotels, Jamsan has relied on contractors and subcontractors that engage in tax fraud, wage theft and/or workplace safety violations.
Russell and Dawson, a CT-based construction firm, was placed in charge of building a Hampton Inn hotel in Keene, NH for Jamsan. In 2019, TNC General Contractor Inc., a second-tier subcontractor on the project, was fined by the NH DOL for misclassifying its workers as independent contractors. TNC paid these workers in cash.
Last year, the NH DOL cited Russell & Dawson (for, among other things, misclassifying their workers as independent contractors) and OSHA issued the company citations based on multiple workplace safety violations.
Jamsan is relying on Russell and Dawson once again – this time, to build the Aloft hotel at 130 Worcester Rd. in Framingham.
To date, at least 3 stop work orders have been issued on the project based on safety violations,iii and at least 4 carpenters have come forward claiming they were paid in cash, were not given tax forms to fill out and no taxes were withheld from their pay for work they performed on the project for Russell & Dawson and one of its subs, Vayo Drywall.
Tax fraud is no accident. Cheating contractors use underhanded schemes to evade their tax responsibilities. They fail to deduct and pay employment-related federal and state taxes to the tune of $8.4 billion a year. A growing coalition of organizations and community leaders is targeting tax fraud in Massachusetts because of the significant impact and injury it has on low-wage workers, municipal budgets and State revenue. Voices from throughout Framingham, State government and the construction industry are sounding this alarm.
“It is exactly because of projects such as this that our legislators need to pass the proposed wage theft and tax fraud bill. Tax fraud and wage theft typically go hand in hand and we need clear and firm legislation that protects workers from being injured, taxpayers from being cheated and communities from being short-changed,” said Frank Gomez, Organizer Carpenters Local 336
“I’m a co-sponsor of the House wage theft bill because I understand we need to be much better about addressing wage theft and tax fraud. We cannot stand by while developers exploit immigrants, low-wage workers and people of color in such high numbers. This is the year we pass the Wage Theft Bill in Massachusetts,” said Rep. Jack Patrick Lewis.
“Real people, their families and communities, are being injured by contractors that cheat and steal wages from hard-working employees. We see this happening in city after city across Massachusetts. Getting the Wage Theft Bill passed is an issue of justice and equity,” said Rep. Robinson.
“Framingham taxpayers and workers are getting cheated out of revenue and jobs far too often by disreputable developers,” said District 8 Framingham City Councilor John Stefanini.
The Framingham City Council is expected to vote on a wage theft ordinance soon to address this problem locally, as other cities have been doing. A growing list of construction contractors are tax cheats. They pay their employees off the books or wrongly classify them as independent contractors. Many use labor brokers and operate in the dark shadows of the underground economy. The tax funds that are lost could be used to provide pandemic relief, build schools, improve roads, fund police and fire departments, and help veterans.