Texas construction workers: 40 hours a week, living in poverty

By Equal Voice News

Texas is one of the largest and most important construction markets in the country. It's driving the industry at a time when much of the country is still tenuously recovering from the recession.

But a recent investigation has uncovered hundreds of examples of illegal and hazardous workplace practices at worksites throughout the states.

Twenty-two percent of Texas construction workers report not being paid for their work, and although the majority of workers labor at least 40 hours a week, 52 percent still live in poverty.

One in five workers reported having suffered a work related injury that required medical attention. Texas is ranked the most deadly state to work in construction.

On Tuesday, Workers Defense Project and the Division of Diversity of Community Engagement at the University of Texas, Austin will release the study "Build a Better Texas: Construction Working Conditions in the Lone Star State."

Payroll fraud or misclassification of workers as independent subcontractors, rather than actual employees, has become a common practice in the industry.  Widespread payroll fraud has devastating consequences for honest business owners who struggle to compete with companies that break the law.

And payroll fraud is expensive for taxpayers, costing them $54.5 million in lost unemployment insurance, tax revenue and hundreds of millions more in federal income tax.

This study offers concrete solutions to ensure a safe, healthy, and productive workforce to better build an economically stable and prosperous Texas.

The report will be presented by Fuerza del Valle Workers' Center -- a project of the Rio Grande Valley Equal Voice Network, which is committed to creating a movement of social change through the civic engagement of 25,000 constituents of the network's participating organizations. Organizations include South Texas Civil Rights Project, La Union del Pueblo Entero, Proyecto Azteca, Mano a Mano Promotoras, Movimiento del Valle Por los Derechos Humanos, Proyecto Juan Diego and others.