Study: Construction workers in southern US lack employment benefits

Kim Slowey
May 11, 2017


Dive Brief:

  • A study has found that construction workers across the southern U.S. receive little to no employment benefits and have relatively low pay, according to the Houston Chronicle.
  • The Workers Defense Project report found that 40% of construction workers in Houston had no health insurance, retirement savings, paid vacations or sick leave. More than 30% were not offered breaks during the day and reported that their employer did not provide drinking water on the job.
  • Only 5% of the 1,435 workers interviewed in six Southern states said workers’ compensation covered the cost of their work injuries, and 57% said they earned less than $15 an hour.

Dive Insight:

The results of this study reinforce a complicated issue plaguing the industry. On one hand, contractors across the country are facing the consequences of skilled-labor shortages and say they’re pulling out all the stops – including raising pay – in an effort to recruit workers. However, this report reveals that, at least in the South, many companies aren’t making the necessary changes in compensation and workplace culture to be an attractive option for new workers.

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(Full PDF of Report)

Committee votes to close living wage loophole

Thursday, December 17, 2015
by Vicky Garza



City Council’s Economic Opportunity Committee approved a resolution at its meeting on Monday that would effectively close a loophole that allows some city contractors to avoid paying workers a living wage.

Both Bob Batlan, of Austin Interfaith, and Emily Timm, deputy director of Workers Defense Project, spoke in favor of the resolution.

“This is simply closing a loophole that currently allows bad actors to subcontract out and not comply with that living wage standard,” said Timm. She added that the requirements will ultimately “protect responsible contractors who are doing their best to comply with the city’s living wage standards that are already in place in the purchasing department.”

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Austin Council Standing Up For Prevailing Wages

 J.W. Marriot developer, White Lodging, is in hot water for breaking a City of Austin contract by underpaying workers.The company received $3.8 million in tax breaks. Now council is giving them two options, pay the lost wages or pay back the city millions.Workers Defense Project spokesperson Patricia Zavala says they blew the whistle on the company. City auditors checked the numbers and found at least 13 employees were underpaid. Then the city ordered the developer to pay back the laborers in February, and then it was extended in March, then June.

(Read More)