Timm Calls On Texas Legislature to Take Action

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Last week Construction Citizen told you about a University of Texas study called Build A Better Texas which reported on the working conditions for construction workers in this state.  At the press conference in Austin, I caught up with Emily Timm, policy analyst for the Workers Defense Project and Construction Citizen blogger, and asked her to comment on how this study might effect positive change for workers in Texas.

In the video below, Timm states:

“This study by the University of Texas is critically important for calling attention to the dangerous working conditions and legal violations that occur in the Texas construction industry.  The findings show that Texas is the most dangerous place to work in construction, that more workers are killed in Texas, and that one out of every five workers is injured on the job.  In addition , legal violations like workplace fraud – payroll fraud – are rampant.  We are hoping that this will call attention to these problems and that it will urge our state senators, state representatives, and our governor to take action to really address these working conditions and to make sure that we build a Texas that works for all Texans.”



Timm provided the following summary which highlights some of the findings revealed in the larger 74-page report.  For the full report, you can download the attachment to our earlier Construction Citizen post on the release of this study.

BUILD A BETTER TEXAS FACT SHEET

CONSTRUCTION IN TEXAS

  • Employs one in every 13 Texans; 2010 Census showed over 950,000 workers in the industry
  • Accounts for $1 of every $20 generated by Texas economy
  • Comprises 10% of U.S. construction output, including 16% of all U.S. housing starts in 2011
  • Texas construction workers make less than their national counterparts


DANGEROUS AND DEADLY CONDITIONS

  • Texas is the most deadly state to work construction
  • A Texas construction worker is 4.5 times more likely to die at work than an average Texas worker
  • One in every five workers is seriously injured on the job, requiring medical attention
  • 60% of workers have not received basic health


LOW WAGES AND FEW BENEFITS

  • 52% of construction workers earn poverty level wages
  • 50% do not receive pay for overtime work
  • 71% of workers receive no employment benefits
  • 78% of workers do not receive health care benefits
  • Only 40% of workers reported receiving workers’ compensation


LEGAL VIOLATIONS: WAGE THEFT & PAYROLL FRAUD

  • More than one in five (22%) workers reported being denied payment for construction work
  • 32% of workers surveyed reported experiencing retaliation for trying to recover their wages
  • Only 11% of workers were successful in attempting to reclaim their wages
  • 41% of workers were victims of payroll fraud, paid in cash or by personal check or misclassified as independent contractors
  • Payroll fraud strips workers of rights to minimum wage, overtime pay, workers’ compensation, health insurance benefits, and unemployment insurance


THE HIGH COST OF POOR WORKING CONDITIONS

  • Responsible companies that provide workers’ compensation and living wages cannot compete with companies who cut corners
  • The construction industry faces a shortage of skilled workers; only 18% of construction workers have received formal training even though 67% said they would enroll if it were available
  • Texas economy loses at least $117 million in lost construction wages, and $8.8 million in lost sales tax due to wage theft each year.
  • Texas loses $54.5 million in state unemployment taxes and over $1 billion in federal income taxes because of payroll fraud
  • Texas hospitals and taxpayers are forced to pick up the tab when construction workers cannot support their families or afford medical treatment for workplace injuries


KEY STEPS TOWARDS A STRONG & SUSTAINABLE CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY

  • WORKERS’ COMPENSATION & MEDICAL BENEFITS
  • HONEST PAY FOR HONEST WORK
  • SAFE WORKING CONDITIONS
  • TRAINING OPPORTUNITIES


All data is from Build a Better Texas: Construction Working Conditions in the Lone Star State, by Workers Defense Project and the University of Texas, Division of Diversity and Community Engagement, January 29, 2013

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