Our Working Lives

UNION CARPENTERS RALLY AT STATE CAPITOL

Originally published in the Summer 2019 edition of the Virginia Defender, issue 59, printed August 23. Reproduced here for accessibility and archival purposes. To find other stories in the Summer 2019 issue or to download the full PDF, see this post. For the full web catalog, see our Full Issues page.

Hundreds of union carpenters rally on Tax Day at the State Captiol to protest some contractors’ illegal anti-labor practices. Photo by Phil Wilayto.

Hundreds of construction workers rallied at the Virginia State Capitol April 15 for a “Construction Industry Tax Fraud Day of Action.” 

“Construction industry tax fraud is an issue that is costing our communities millions in tax revenue and destroying middle-class jobs in the skilled trades,” explained Doris Crouse-Mays, President of the Virginia AFLCIO, in a notice promoting the rally. 

“Corrupt contractors pay workers off the books or misclassify their workers as independent contractors instead of full employees, she wrote. 

“That allows them to evade state, local, and federal taxes, so they can illegally lower their labor costs to underbid law-abiding competitors. If left unchecked, we risk losing an entire sector of the American job market to the underground economy.” 

The non-union workers who get hired by these corrupt employers are often undocumented workers who, because of their immigration status, are ripe for exploitation. Not only are they often paid less than the going rate for the work they do, but they often work in dangerous situations without the oversight that comes with union protection. 

In the past, such anti-labor practices would pit immigrants desperate for work against native-born, mostly white, male workers. But at this Tax Day rally, the majority of the union members were Latino and Latina, along with African-Americans and whites, a reflection of the changing face of the country’s workforce. 

The State Capitol rally was organized by Carpenter’s Local 205 and the Keystone Mountain Lakes Regional Council of Carpenters.

For information about organizing a union in Virginia, contact the Virginia AFL-CIO at their website.

Categories: Our Working Lives

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