Stephen Herzenberg testified before Philadelphia City Council today on worker misclassification and wage theft in the Philadelphia construction industry. The first part of his remarks is based on a KRC report, “Illegal Labor Practices in the Philadelphia Regional Construction Industry,” supplemented by additional research and data made public since we published that report. The last part of his testimony argues that the time is ripe in Pennsylvania for a systemic, coordinated strategy to rid the city, region, and state construction industries of illegal labor practices.
The main finding of the KRC report on illegal practices in the region’s construction industry is straightforward: labor law and labor standards are routinely violated by many construction contractors in Southeast Pennsylvania and in the city of Philadelphia. These violations victimize workers and their families, taxpayers, law-abiding contractors, and construction customers, including state and local government. They have brought “destructive” competition to the Philadelphia-area construction industry—competition based on stealing a portion of workers’ wages, investing little in workers skills, and in some cases operating unsafely.