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On Friday, March 25th members of the New England Regional Council of Carpenters protested in front of the site of the Chamberlain Heights Housing in Meriden, Connecticut, a low-income public housing facility. The protest was scheduled after the Connecticut Department of Labor issued a record 22 "Stop Work" orders on the site, where a $27 million renovation is under way.
The orders were issued when workers on the site were found to not have workers compensation coverage, as required by law, and were not properly paying state and federal payroll taxes. There were also concerns that the workers were not legitimate "independent contractors" as indicated during an inspection of the site.
The LaRosa Building Group is the general contractor hired by the Meriden Housing Authority hired for the project.
??Having workers on the job without any workers compensation is appalling. To allow people to avoid paying taxes on Housing Authority jobs in these times is a slap in the face to every tax payer in Connecticut,?? said Tim Sullivan of the New England Regional Council of Carpenters.
The 22 workers join a list of hundreds of subcontractors on multiple other sites who have been issued ??Stop Work?? from the state for similar violations.
Misclassification of workers as so-called "independent contractors" has become an epidemic in the construction industry. Not only does it strip workers of basic protections, it provides a significant competitive bidding advantage to contractors who cheat and deprives the state and federal government of significant tax revenues.
The "Stop Work" orders and protest caught the attention of Connecticut House Speaker Chris Donovan, who stopped by the site.
When protesters continued to gather at the site on March 28th, a second visit by Connecticut Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division netted yet another stop work order for violations.
Protests will continue outside the project to highlight the misuse of taxpayer money and the blatant tax and insurance fraud by some of the subcontractors on their site.
Additional coverage in the Hartford Courant.