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WV Poised to Take A Closer Look at "Under the Table and Scheming"

March 5, 2007

The West Virginia legislature is set to decide today whether the state should get more aggressive with employers who pay workers under the table. Steve White with the Affiliated Construction Trades Foundation (WV) says it's a practice that allows companies to underbid major projects while eroding the wage scale, avoiding taxes, and sometimes, exploiting imported workers.

"There's a small, but significant, group of employers who think they've got a competitive advantage - just ignore the law and you can underbid the honest employer. So, we're trying to level the playing field."

A similar bill failed last year, after concerns from a variety of contractor groups. White notes that changes in the legislation this year have earned it widespread support. The proposed law would allow the Department of Labor to work with other state agencies to make sure businesses are following state laws. However, White believes that right now, the Department of Labor has trouble following through with an investigation, and he says West Virginia is losing millions of dollars while companies profit.

"Whether it's illegal workers being imported or just home-brewed, folks who are not paying their taxes. It's a growing problem in our state."

The bill has passed the Senate. The House is scheduled to vote on it today.

Deborah Smith/Chris Thomas, Public News Service - WV