The Losses Keep Mounting

Watch the losses climb from 2017 to now! $8.4 billion a year was lost from 2017 through 2020 and $10 billion a year from 2021.


Building a Better Construction Industry Through Tax Fraud Days of Action

Once again, thousands of members of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America (UBC) and their supporters came together to stand up and speak out against construction employer tax fraud and worker abuse at scores of events in the United States and Canada, April 13 – 19.

Employer tax fraud hurts hardworking men and women, honest employers and our communities. It undercuts the industry and steals from everyone who pays their taxes. It means more profits for lawbreaking companies while their workers depend on taxpayer-funded social services for survival.

A 2023 national study  by The Century Foundation shows the toll that tax fraud takes. Using conservative estimates, the study found:

  • Up to 2.1 million construction workers, or 19 percent, are misclassified as independent contractors or paid off the books.
  • Workers suffer $1.9 billion in overtime wage theft.
  • Workers’ compensation insurers lose $5 billion to employer premium fraud.
  • State and federal tax losses amount to $10 billion a year.
  • Working families suffer a $5.1 billion tax increase because crooked employers shift their own responsibility to pay employment taxes onto their workers’ backs.

Another recent study revealed even more evidence of abuse, finding that 39 percent of U.S. construction worker families, about three million, are forced to rely on taxpayer-funded safety-net programs like Medicaid and food assistance, costing taxpayers $28 billion a year The researchers attribute their findings to low pay, wage theft and illegal employment practices.

“Employer fraud is a cancer that has become a business model,” said UBC General President Douglas J. McCarron. “But we’re not backing down. We bring our fight to the public every year during Tax Fraud Days of Action, and we fight fraud every day.”

Remedies include strengthening laws against fraud, making contractors accountable for hiring crooked subcontractors and labor brokers, and increasing enforcement efforts to catch and punish those who are breaking laws already on the books. Bankers and workers’ compensation insurers also need to strengthen their enforcement efforts against fraudulent business practices.

This year’s Tax Fraud Days of Action events and accomplishments included:

Vaughan, Ontario—UBC Canadian District Vice President Jason Rowe led a team meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to discuss a range of issues on April 12, including employer tax fraud and the underground economy. Trudeau reiterated his support for the Days of Action campaign and spoke of the need to work together to address employer tax fraud. Across Canada, UBC council representatives met with several Members of Parliament during Tax Fraud Days of Action, exploring legislation to make general contractors liable for the actions of subcontractors and a pathway to citizenship for undocumented workers being exploited on many job sites.  

Across Canada—UBC regional councils held numerous meetings with government ministers and Members of Parliament in Edmonton, Alb., Sudbury, Ont., Skeena, BC, Saint John, New Brunswick, Regina, Saskatchewan, Cape Breton, NS, Churchill, Man., and elsewhere, to discuss ways to address tax fraud through legislation. In Ottawa, the Carpenters Regional Council made a federal budget presentation in the House of Commons and issued a media statement on tax fraud. Council representatives throughout Canada also met with chambers of commerce, bank and financial institution officials to educate them about the underground economy and tax fraud. In addition, many contractors received Community Builder awards through the Canadian District’s program to highlight honest contractor partners who are working with the UBC to combat tax fraud through their dedication to fair practices, worker rights and responsible industry standards.

Michigan—Members of the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters took part in a Hardhat Day rally at the state capitol in Lansing, where members spoke with legislators about the tax fraud crisis and the council conducted tours for legislators of its 44-foot Schools2Tools Mobile Field Trip “semi” truck.  

New England—Members of the North Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters rallied in Hartford, Conn., Providence, R.I., and Boston, Mass., in favor of legislation under consideration in each state to protect workers against wage theft and other forms of employer fraud. Members in New Hampshire and Maine also participated in Days of Action events.

Oklahoma—In Oklahoma City the Central South Carpenters Regional Council hosted a rally at Love Amphitheater in Sissortail Park where elected leaders spoke out about the effects of construction employer tax fraud in their state. Invited speakers included Oklahoma Labor Commissioner Leslie Osborn, State Senator Michael Brooks, and State Representatives Mickey Dollens and Ben Sherrer.  

Central Midwest—In Columbus, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost visited construction job sites with representatives of the Central Midwest Regional Council of Carpenters to learn more about how tax fraud schemes operate.  At the Porter County Courthouse in Valparaiso, Ind., UBC members rallied along with State Senator Mike Bohacek, City Council President Robert Cotton and City Council Candidate Bob DeRuntz to raise awareness of employer tax fraud. In Greenwood, Ind., members told their stories in videos that were shared on social media.  

Northern California—The Northern California Carpenters Regional Council held large events featuring public officials in three locations. At the State Capitol in Sacramento, former US Framing worker Roberto Cruz and UBC members were joined by California Labor Commissioner Lilia Garcia Brower, Senate President Pro Tem Emeritus Toni Atkins, State Senator Scott Wiener, Assemblymembers Lori Wilson, James Gallagher and Tim Grayson, Sacramento Vice Mayor Caity Maples and Elk Grove City Council Member Sergio Robles.

At the Contra Costa Superior Courthouse in Martinez, members rallied with District Attorney Diana Bectin, Martinez City Council Member Jay Howard, Assemblymember Anna Marie Faris and Cruz.  And at City Hall in Daly City, a rally was held with Cruz, along with San Mateo District Attorney Stephen Wagstaff, Local 22 member and San Francisco DCCC Fraud Commissioner Dan Calamuci, State Senator Josh Becker and San Mateo County Board of Supervisors Member David Canepa.

Miami, Florida—Members ofthe Florida Regional Council of Carpenters demonstrated at a publicly-funded project, Block 55 at Sawyers Walk, to protest wage theft and workers’ compensation fraud. A Responsible Wage Ordinance applies at the project, which is adjacent to the county agency that is charged with monitoring public projects. The Florida council’s demonstration served to publicly inform the county agency of possible wrongdoing at the site.

New York State—Members of the North Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters rallied in Albany, N.Y., to raise awareness of employer tax fraud. In addition, members held banners and distributed handbills at state office buildings and post offices in numerous cities and towns including Buffalo, Binghamton, Rochester, Ithaca, Syracuse, Utica, Watertown and White Plains.

New York City—Some 1,900 members of the New York City District Council of Carpenters rallied at the New York City Public Library in Manhattan with Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez to educate the public about employer tax fraud. 

Illinois and Missouri—Members of the Mid-America Carpenters Regional Council demonstrated, held banners and distributed handbills at post offices and public facilities to educate the public about tax fraud. Events took place in cities and towns including Chicago, Evanston, Palatine, Shaumberg, DeKalb, Rockford and Moline in Illinois. In Missouri, events were held in Kansas City, St. Louis, Jefferson, Cape Girardeau, Pulaski and Franklin. Council representatives also conducted interviews with Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul and a Workers’ Compensation commissioner to educate them about the crisis. The council also worked with the office of the Mexican Consulate in Chicago to educate visitors to the consulate.

North Central States—The North Central States Regional Council held numerous events in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Nebraska. Members and representatives met one-on-one with elected officials and participated in public forums or listening sessions within the Twin Cities area. In Iowa, members held a demonstration at the Davenport City Hall and displayed “thank you” banners at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, in recognition of the university’s positive contract language regarding tax fraud. In Omaha, Nebraska, members held informational picket signs to advocate for area standard conditions for workers. Representatives in Iowa, Nebraska and Wisconsin hosted ride-alongs with public officials to visit job sites with potential tax fraud problems. Members in Minnesota advocated for pending legislation that grew from the work of the state’s task force on misclassification. Other cities and towns that saw UBC council events included Waukee, Johnston, Dubuque, Des Moines and Sioux City, Iowa; Duluth, Minn.; and Sheboygan, Wisconsin.

Western States—In Montana, regional council leaders met with U.S. Senator Jon Tester, who spoke out against the cheaters. In Arizona, Governor Katie Hobbs spoke out against tax fraud with UBC council members. In Los Angeles, California Attorney General Rob Bonta participated in a press conference on combatting tax fraud. Elsewhere throughout the Western States Regional Council, members focused on presentations at the city council level to educate officials. Members packed council chambers in Boise, Ida., Albuquerque, N.M., Great Falls, Mont., Spokane, Wash., and in Riverside, Manhattan Beach, Santa Ana, Redondo Beach, Long Beach, Culver City, Torrance and Signal Hill in California.

Mid-Atlantic States—the Eastern Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters held an online conference for Attorney Generals and their deputies from Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. In addition, hundreds of members rallied at a press conference on tax fraud at the Pennsylvania State Capitol in Harrisburg.

Visit the Wrap-Up page to view 2024 Days of Action photos from regional councils.