Tony Thurmond’s Assembly Bill 1701 is a simple but powerful piece of legislation that will bring accountability to the private construction industry
By Robbie Hunter
This article was published on 08.17.17.
When it comes to protecting construction workers in the underground economy,the history of California has found that the buck stops . . . nowhere.
Most of the cheating, most of the rip-offs, most of the theft of workers’ wages takes place two or three rungs down from the general contractors at the top of the construction pyramid. There’s so much of it that the overwhelmed state Department of Industrial Relations can’t keep up on the enforcement end. The outcome: tens of thousands of construction and other blue-collar workers are denied hundreds of millions of dollars a year in lost wages, while the state is shorted somewhere between $8.5 billion and $28 billion a year by employers who don’t pay their taxes.
It’s a situation studied to death by academicians while lawmakers have hesitated to throw up the stop sign.
Finally, somebody in Sacramento is doing something about it. Assemblyman Tony Thurmond has taken the lead, and if his colleagues in the Legislature follow it, we might soon have a mechanism to crack down on the cheating.
Thurmond, a Democrat from Richmond, is the author of Assembly Bill 1701, a simple but powerful piece of legislation that will bring accountability to the private construction industry. The bill maintains that if you are the general contractor on a construction project, and if your sub-contractors-or even their “sub-subs”-stiff a worker out of his or her pay, you are liable. End of story.