Over 50 Carpenters gathered on Thursday at a downtown Los Angeles jobsite to picket against Wallcraft Drywall, who the Carpenter's Union alleges regularly commits tax fraud and exploits their workers. The demonstration coincides with the annual Tax Fraud Days of Action, a week dedicated to raising awareness about tax fraud in the construction industry.
BDN was tipped off for the demonstration and arrived to find Union Members, holding up signs and chanting slogans denouncing Wallcraft's alleged labor law violations. They accuse the company of shortchanging pay and benefits, paying workers in cash, not compensating for overtime work and placing workers in unsafe conditions.
Special Representative Doug Hicks explains, "Tax Fraud Days of Action is a week where we turn the volume up to 10. Tax fraud costs this country over $8 billion a year. Companies like Wallcraft have gotten comfortable operating in the dark so we're going to get in their face and let them know that we know who they are.”
The Carpenters vow to continue their protest until Wallcraft flies straight or is removed from the site. "We're not going to back down until we get what we want and that's the removal of Wallcraft from this job," said Union business Agent David Cordero. "Look, Wallcraft only knows how to operate this way. They are never going to change because illegality is just part of their business model. Developers and General Contractors need to know the repercussions of what this does to the communities they serve and put a hard stop to hiring companies like this. It's good that TFDOA is happening right now and we can get more attention to this company."
Know Your Rights
Hicks believes the Tax Fraud Days of Action campaign captures more eyes and ears; especially those of elected officials and policy makers. Once lawmakers hear the full scope of the problem, and how detrimental it is to our communities, they are committed to erasing the practice. For example, In the last couple of years, wage fraud task forces have been formed under State Attorney Generals in places such as San Diego, where this type of fraud runs rampant.,
Officials encourage workers to know their rights and understand that they can report crimes anonymously through a hotline. The task forces are listening.
Business agents were seen reaching out to workers and taking information. "It all starts with one of these Wallcraft workers realizing they are being exploited and reaching out. Then the State can start the process of recouping wages and penalizing these guys in one way that really hurts them, through their pocket."
Hicks viewed the demonstration as a successful turnout and noted that there was press coverage. "Attention is step one."
He wants to be very clear; this week is to highlight the issue and get people thinking. "But remember, tax fraud goes beyond one week. It is a year-round issue that impacts our industry and our communities."