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ASHLAND – Members of Carpenters Local 336 will rally in front of the Ashland Public Safety Complex again on Thursday, April 14 to bring attention to wage theft across Massachusetts.

The event will take place at 12 Union Street at 4:30 to 6 p.m.

Following a series of rallies and demand letters this winter, CTA Construction Managers which is overseeing the construction of Ashland’s new Public Safety Complex, finally agreed to get the 11 non-union carpenters paid the $64,000 in owed wages, said the Union.

Some of these wage theft victims were owed thousands and had not been paid for weeks. Because of the sustained work of Organizers and the members of Carpenters Local 336 these 11 workers were paid the $64,000 they were owed. This was a huge victory, said the union in a press release.

CTA is the general contractor. GL Drywall and Painting is the subcontractor that had not paid the
workers, said the Union.

The project is of course being paid for by Ashland taxpayers as well as with State tax dollars.

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The Carpenters Union has called out the State Legislature to pass legislation strengthening the Commonwealth’s wage theft laws.

Frank Gomez, Organizer with Carpenters Local 336, said “Wage theft and cheating contractors are an epidemic in the construction industry. If $64,000 can be stolen out of the pockets of workers hired to build this new public safety building, it can happen anywhere. We need more eyes focused on the victims of wage theft, and stronger laws preventing this from happening. I don’t think Massachusett’s taxpayers
want to pick-up the morning paper to read workers are being victimized while working to build new police stations, schools and town halls across the Commonwealth.”

In December, State Rep. Jack Lewis State who represents Ashland said “The safety complex is a great project for Ashland and is desperately needed for our police and fire departments. It’s frustrating and outrageous to hear that the contractor is not paying their workers. I can’t be silent knowing that taxpayers of this Commonwealth are funding a project where contractors are victimizing workers. We can’t keep letting this happen.”

Wage theft is an epidemic in construction in Massachusetts hurting workers with lost wages and
cities and towns with lower tax revenues.

A recent study by UMass Amherst shows that in 2019 alone wage theft and other illegal business practices have cost up to a $40.6 million shortfall in the state’s unemployment insurance fund, contractors have evaded up to $78.3 million in workers’ compensation premiums and have stolen up to $40.8 million in required overtime premiums and cheating contractors have cost up to $41.3 million in personal income taxes.

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The Carpenters union said it hopes to bring attention to the wage theft bill filed by Sen. Sal DiDomenico & Rep. Dan Donahue, S. & HD.967, An Act to Prevent Wage Theft, Promote Employer Accountability,
and Enhance Public Enforcement. This bill would increase wage theft protections for all workers, not just in construction, but also restaurant workers, day laborers, hospitality workers and others and would also give the Mass. Attorney General increased powers to fight these issues.

The United Brotherhood of Carpenters has organized rallies across the country to expose and eliminate the many fraudulent practices among cheating construction industry players that have exploited and abused countless workers, decimated the businesses of legitmate contractors and stolen funds from local, state and federal taxpayers, said the Union.

Organizers for Carpenters Local 336 said they will continue to communicate with nonunion carpenters to document and address unsafe work conditions, take complaints from workers victimized by wage theft and educate both elected leaders and local municipalities on the importance of implementing wage theft protections at the Statehouse, as local ordinances and in construction contracts.

Carpenters Local 336 represents carpenters working on projects throughout Central Massachusetts.

“Its members participate in a union because they believe it is the best way to protect their economic rights and dreams. Staff from the Carpenters Union Local 336 have had thousands of conversations with nonunion workers about wages and working conditions and have helped many nonunion workers who were victims of wage theft get justice,” said the union.

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By editor

Susan Petroni is the former editor for SOURCE. She is the founder of the former news site, which as of May 1, 2023, is now a self-publishing community bulletin board. The website no longer has a journalist but a webmaster.