NPR: Misclassification of Texas Construction Workers is a Fundamental Sickness

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On today's installment of NPR's Morning Edition, correspondent Wade Goodwyn put the microscope on the Texas construction industry and what he found was disturbing. Click here to listen to the story.

From his report:

If wage theft is a nasty cousin of slavery...there's a deeper, more fundamental sickness affecting the Texas construction industry: the misclassification of construction workers as independent contractors instead of as employees.

Goodwyn also cited the recent report by the University of Texas that found more than 40 percent of construction workers here are misclassified:

According to the study, 1 in every 5 Texas construction workers will require hospitalization because of injuries on the job. Texas is the only state in the nation without mandatory workers' compensation, meaning hospitals and taxpayers usually end up shouldering the cost when uncovered construction workers are hurt.

And who profits from the system in Texas? Remember that five-bedroom house for $160,000? Customers are the winners, workers are the losers and many construction firm owners have been transformed into the exploiters.

That's not the case for all construction firms, of course. But for many smaller contractors and subcontractors — who together make up the majority of the industry here — it's exploit your workers and cheat the taxpayers or go out of business. Those are the cold hard Texas construction industry facts.

Tomorrow, Goodwyn promises to look at the story from the perspective of contractors.

Click here for part 2

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