Attorney General cites $640,000 in wage theft and penalties in Sutton
The Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office’s announcement 1 of wage theft citations totaling $636,796 in penalties and restitution for 23 workers against three construction companies that had contracts to build the Sutton Police Station is a welcome conclusion to a long and painful experience for some of those that worked building it.
The members of Carpenter’s Local 336 would like to praise the hard work of the AG’s staff for closing this chapter and encourage municipalities to pass local wage theft ordinances to help prevent future wage theft occurrences such as this.
We need to monitor more closely how our taxpayer dollars are being spent and make certain local municipalities have the ability to protect themselves. The fact that Federal OSHA health and safety inspectors and the Mass. Attorney General’s Office had to step in, first to protect workers’ lives and safety2 and then to protect some of the same workers from exploitation and wage theft on this project should be unacceptable to all of us and move us to action.
What happened in Sutton, happens far too frequently to other municipalities throughout Central Mass. and across the Commonwealth. We must all remain vigilante in addressing worker safety violations and wage theft and municipal leaders need to put in place stronger protections at the local level by implementing strong and firm local wage theft ordinances that help to keep companies that have been caught exploiting workers from just picking up and moving on to the next city or town.
More and more cities are putting local wage theft ordinances in place as preventative measures which will protect workers when a town or city builds a new school, library or firehouse as well as when a private developer comes to town and public tax dollars are used to finance the project through TIFs or tax credits.
Framingham is one community that wants to be pro-active. John Stefanini, a Framingham Councilor, believes now’s the time;
“We should care about how every tax dollar is spent, and we should be angered when our tax dollars end-up going to a fly-by-night contractor that engages in wage theft, robbing hard working men and women, and cheating local companies for the chance to compete. It’s for these reasons that I fully support the taxpayer and worker protections being considered by the Framingham Council.”
The fight against wage theft needs to be a shared effort between municipalities and our elected State Representatives and Senators. The members of Carpenters Local 336 recently endorsed Christine Creane in her Senate campaign because they believe Christine recognizes wage theft’s devastating effects on employees’ lives. Because of her many years as a member of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) 509, Christine stands strong against wage theft;
“Wage theft impacts many different industries, in addition to construction it is prevalent in low-wage food service and retail jobs. I fully support the work of the Carpenters Union and the AFL-CIO to educate municipalities on how they can better protect against wage theft happening in their communities. Local wage theft ordinances are a proposal I’m interested in seeing in every community.”
Organizers for Carpenters Local 336 will continue to visit work sites in Central Mass, as well as Western Mass. and Metro West to document unsafe work conditions, take complaints from workers victimized by wage theft and educate local elected officials on the importance of implementing wage theft ordinances to protect workers.
Carpenters Local 336 represents 2,000 members living in towns and cities across our state. Our members participate in a union because they believe it is the best way to protect their economic rights and dreams. So far in 2020, Organizers and staff for Local 336 have made over 1,080 job site visits as our part of protecting workers and holding developers and contractors accountable. Many of these job site visits took place this spring when construction workers were classified as “essential workers” and both union and non-union workers were told they needed to report to work.
1 Oct. 14, 2020 – Attorney General – $640,000 in wage theft and penalties in Sutton
2 Machados Construction Services LLC
2 E.D.M. Construction, Inc