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The Construction Institute
P.O. Box 220808
Boston, MA 02122

tel: 617.436.4159
fax: 617.436.4163
email: info@builtbest.org
www.builtbest.org

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Public Policy

Advocating for a Better Future for Construction Workers and Contractors

TCI provides its expertise and advocacy on important public policy issues that impact construction workers and  contractors such as preventing falls in construction, safer alternatives, safety protections for public sector employees, responsible employer ordinances, and the underground economy. TCI’s public policy work strives to create a better working environment for all workers.
 
Preventing Falls in Construction
 
TCI is a member of a state advisory committee sponsored by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health that is exploring ways to prevent falls in construction, the leading cause of deaths in our industry.
 
Safer Alternatives
 
Through a coalition between labor and environmental health groups sponsored by the Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow (AHT), TCI is working to combat environmental health threats that impact our workplaces and communities. The AHT labor coalition is promoting policies and workplace strategies that achieve safe alternatives to toxic chemicals. Learn more or get involved.
 
Safety Protections for Public Employees
 
Working with MassCOSH and other safety and health advocates, TCI is campaigning for safety protections for public employees in Massachusetts. Each year 10 – 15% of workers in Massachusetts killed on the job are public sector workers. Thousands more are injured or become ill - but only private sector workers are covered under the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA). Learn more or get involved.  
 
Responsible Employer Ordinances
 
TCI provides technical expertise and other assistance for unions and contractors promoting the adoption of Responsible Employer Ordinances (REOs) in towns and cities across Massachusetts. REOs are a response to the frustration of municipal officials at the problems created by a handful of contractors that resort to cheating rather than competing on a level playing field. The ultimate goal is to prevent unnecessary delays, costs and other problems created by disreputable contractors before they get on the job.
 
While the exact ordinances vary they all incorporate some basic principles. In large part they simply require compliance with existing state laws such as workers compensation coverage, unemployment insurance coverage, and proper classification of workers to ensure tax compliance. REOs also encourage positive public policy initiatives such as health insurance coverage and bona fide apprenticeship training programs.
 
Somerville is among the most recent cities in Massachusetts to take the historic step in passing an REO, which was signed into law by Mayor Curtatone on June 30, 2008.  
 
Underground Economy
 
Massachusetts loses $152 million in tax revenue each year due to the underground economy hurting taxpayers, workers and companies that play by the rules. The underground economy includes individuals and businesses that willfully avoid compliance with labor, licensing and tax laws by misclassifying employers as independent contractors or deal in cash and other “off-the-books” schemes to conceal their activities and true tax liability from licensing, regulatory and tax agencies. 
 
On March 12, 2008, Governor Deval Patrick established a Joint Task Force on Underground Economy and Employee Misclassification to coordinate the efforts of several state agencies to stamp out these fraudulent employment practices and to bring affected workers under the protections of state laws. TCI testified to the negative impacts caused by the underground economy at a task force hearing on October 22, 2008.