Tuesday, May 12, 2009
A bill to address what unions say is a growing problem of worker misclassification has cleared the Pennsylvania House and is now awaiting action in the Senate. The measure would punish companies that either classify workers as laborers when they are performing higher-level skills or classify workers as independent contractors rather than full time employees. Both practices lower the cost of doing business for companies. Pittsburgh Building Trades Council business manager Rich Stanizzo says General contractors who pay a laborer’s wage for a skilled worker, such as a plumber, makes it impossible for legitimate union plumbers to get jobs. He says by classifying workers as contractors rather then employees it undermines the union and could open the door to tax abuse. The bill would also penalize individuals who sign up as independent contracts if they are not qualified to be classified as such. Stanizzo says it is very hard to police the issue. He says it is especially difficult if the general contractor is from out of state. Stanizzo says by the time Pennsylvania regulators catch up with the contractor the work is already done. He points to one job in Pittsburgh where he says every worker on the site was categorized as a contractor even though they were on the job for months. The classification is intended to be used for small-specialized jobs on a work site that may take one day or less to complete.
Posted by Mark Nootbaar at 10:37 AM