Construction workers, union seek more protection from wage theft, abuses in Charlotte

JUNE 26, 2017 7:45 PM

A group of construction workers and labor organizers told Charlotte City Council on Monday that the city needs to take more steps to ensure the people fueling the building boom aren’t taken advantage of and subjected to unsafe conditions.

At a press conference organized by the AFL-CIO union in front of the Government Center uptown, they asked City Council to establish a task force to study construction workers’ conditions and pass a policy to rate contractors and make them disclose more about their employment practices.

The call for more rules to protect construction workers is tied to a report called “Build a Better South” that highlights wage theft, workers misclassified as independent contractors, lack of benefits and other hardships facing workers in the South’s booming construction industry. The report is a partnership of the Workers Defense Project, Partnership for Working Families, and the University of Illinois.

The report’s authors surveyed almost 1,500 workers in six fast-growing cities – Charlotte, Atlanta, Houston, Dallas, Miami and Nashville. In Charlotte, they found:

▪ Nearly half – 44 percent – received no benefits at all from their employers, such as sick leave or health insurance.

▪ The industry is largely made up of Latino workers, who comprised 68 percent of those construction workers surveyed in Charlotte.

▪ Only 11 percent had formal training in construction at a vocational school or community college.

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Nashville leads new report in hazardous conditions, injury rates for construction workers

by Kaylin Searles
Tuesday, May 23rd 2017

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WZTV) – Metro Council members, construction workers and advocates are trying to make changes in the construction industry after a new report claims that Nashville has the most hazardous conditions and the high injury rates for workers.

“Build a Better South” conducted the survey, questioning 1,400 construction workers from the Nashville area alone. The survey was also conducted in Atlanta, Charlotte, Dallas, Houston and Miami.

According to the report, one in four Nashville workers had been injured at some point in their construction career, the highest of the research cities. Ten percent of workers had been injured just in the last year.

Jackie Cornejo, with Build a Better South, said one of the most concerning points of the report for Nashville is the amount of injuries that go unreported. The study found a 12.7 percent injury rate per 100 workers annually in Tennessee, which is four times higher than the injury/illness rate reported by OSHA for the state.

Construction workers gave testimony echoing this at the news conference Tuesday. Some workers said their wages aren’t high enough to afford a health insurance plan, thus paying for treatment out of pocket or never reporting the injury.

But, about 81 percent of those injuries that were reported last year received no workers’ compensation.

(Read More)