POSTED: Friday, February 22, 2013 - 7:39pm
UPDATED: Monday, February 25, 2013 - 11:23am
Tyler, TX (KETK) — We all know the construction business uses a lot of illegal labor. But a new survey now shows us how pervasive the practice actually is.
We’ve all seen it. Go to any construction site. If the boombox is on, you can bet it’s not playing rock, rap or country.
And now we have numbers to go with that picture. The problem of 11-million undocumented workers in the US is one of the big items on the plate of congress and the administration.
And now, we see how one industry is dependent on them. A new survey by the University of Texas shows the extent to which the undocumented have become part of the construction industry.
There are 5.7 million construction jobs in the US. 600,000 in Texas. Of those Texas jobs, 400,000 are filled by the undocumented.
“If it was 10,000 workers or 20,000 workers, you could sort of absorb that. But when it’s 400,000 workers who aren’t paying income taxes, have no workman’s comp, and aren’t getting overtime, it’s terrible,” says Stan Marek of Marek Companies, a construction conglomerate.
They make on average $3.12 less an hour than a US born workers. 73% of them get no safety training versus only 40% of the US born. And only 29% are covered by Workers Compensation if they get hurt.
“And that’s an exposure where we’re all affected,” says Gilbert Urbina of the Hispanic Center of Tyler. “Because this way, they are not paying taxes, and are able to receive some benefits. But if they are employees, then they’re able to contribute more back into the community.”
“Now it’s not because those workers want to work like that,” marek says. “It’s because it’s the only thing available to them. Our system is broken.”