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Quincy City Council Takes Action on Underground Economy in Construction

by admin on April 1, 2016

At the March 21 Quincy City Council meeting, Councilor Brian Palmucci introduced an ordinance that would crack down on construction contractors who participate in the underground economy. The ordinance would amend the city’s Special Permit language by requiring contractors and subcontractors to meet a set of minimum mandatory conditions, including certifying that the firm has not been debarred or suspended in the last three years, has not been found in violation of any applicable state or federal laws, maintains appropriate workers compensation insurance, and does not misclassify their workforce as independent contractors.

If a contractor was found to be out of compliance with these requirements, the Special Permit would be temporarily suspended and all work by all contractors on the project would cease until the violation had been remedied.

The proposed changes were in response to a hearing in front of the council on February 16th, sponsored by at-large Councilors Joe Finn and Noel DiBonna, which included a presentation on the broader implications of wage theft and misclassification as well as specific examples within the city of Quincy. Two workers also attended the hearing, testifying that a contractor had failed to pay them for months of work on the demolition of general contractor Callahan’s project at the Quincy YMCA. The two men worked for a Callahan subcontractor, J Kerrissey LLC, and a copy of one of the worker’s checks shows that no deductions for federal or state taxes were ever taken out. Adding insult to injury, the checks bounced when the workers attempted to cash them. Both workers are still owed for their time worked.

The presentation on the 16th also displayed sign-in sheets from a subcontractor on Callahan’s 0 Penn St project showing that individual carpenters were being asked to sign in as “subs,” illustrating a common practice, condemned by state and federal officials, in which employers misclassify their workers as independent contractors in order to avoid paying payroll taxes and workers compensation premiums. These kinds of business practices contribute to an estimated $2 trillion in unreported income across the country, as well as a significant loss in income tax revenue at both the state and federal level. “This is about finding a fair, just and economically appropriate way of dealing with development in the city of Quincy,” said Councilor Finn (PatriotLedger, 02.17.16)

Individual workers being asked to sign in as subcontractors. Individual workers being asked to sign in as subcontractors.


A worker’s check, showing no deductions for income tax, workers compensation, or other taxes. A worker’s check, showing no deductions for income tax, workers compensation, or other taxes.


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