A recent study by the UC Berkeley Labor Center highlighted the public cost of low wages and how it affects many construction workers.
According to the study, about 34% of construction worker families in Illinois are enrolled in at least one federal safety net program. The programs included in the study were Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance Program, Temporary Aid for Needy Families, Earned Income Tax Credit and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
The amount doled out to these families totaled to more than $500 million. The study points out that the construction industry is one of the largest in Illinois employing one in 20 workers.
Researchers found that many of the workers who benefitted from the assistance programs were victims of wage theft and worker misclassification. As Union Carpenters know all to well, these workers receive low wages and are often paid cash, don’t receive and medical benefits and if they get hurt they have nothing to fall back on.