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Boston Globe investigation published Sunday details the extensive network of contractors who rely on wage theft and misclassification of employees as independent contractors to undermine and underbid legitimate contractors. Many of these subcontractors have worked or are working for Callahan Inc., as an integral component of its business model.

The front page article highlighted the stories of workers like Luis Mayancela, who at the age of 15 fell off the roof of a project in Portland, Maine, while working for Force Corporation, a regular Callahan subcontractor. Mayancela was transported to a hospital across state lines in the back of a work van, and his boss denied responsibility for the accident. A complex network of subcontractors made it almost impossible to hold anyone accountable for Mayancela’s accident, with each layer of subcontractor shifting responsibility to another.

The general contractor on that project claims he did not know about problems with Force Corporation, which include more than 100 violations since 2007, $1.5 million in OSHA fines that the US Attorney’s office is currently suing to collect, and a $2.6 million settlement for wage theft, all of which are publicly available.

“They don’t care. They’re going to keep using this company because they’re cheap labor. There’s a reason that they’re so inexpensive compared to the market. It doesn’t come free, that discount,” said Stacie Sobosik, a Medford attorney who represents injured workers. 1,300 complaints to the Massachusetts Attorney General in the last three years for wage and safety violations has resulted in $2.4 million in restitution and $1 million in penalties, much of which remains unpaid as companies flee to avoid enforcement.

The article goes on to highlight Callahan Inc., another company that claimed innocence over Force Corporation’s wrongdoings and has a long history of using subcontractors that rely on the underground economy. Callahan is currently the general contractor on a 447 unit development in Somerville, and recently finished the One North of Boston complex in Chelsea. A recent visit to the Chelsea site by the Globe found Universal Drywall with 30 workers on site, many of whom were listed as independent contractors. Universal was sued for this illegal practice in 2014 by the Attorney General, but remains on Callahan’s projects.

These illegal and unethical business practices are endemic to Force Corporation, Callahan Inc., and the other contractors highlighted in this investigation.


The Somerville Board of Aldermen unanimously passed a resolution last Thursday condemning the use of Callahan Inc, and calling on developers who receive public subsidies to use responsible contractors who provide a living wage, health insurance, workers compensation, retirement benefits, and apprenticeship training to the workers that build their projects.

In particular, the resolution criticized Federal Realty Investment Trust (FRIT) for selecting Callahan as the general contractor on their 448 unit apartment building in Assembly Row. The project received $73 million in direct and indirect public support from the City of Somerville and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and FRIT received numerous warnings from city and state officials, as well as residents and community organizations, that Callahan’s lower bid was likely due to the reliance on subcontractors who utilize illegal and unethical business practices. However, Federal Realty, a $9 billion public company, stated it could not afford to use union labor, and selected Callahan.

Now, the wood framing on the project is being performed by Force Corporation, a company that has beenordered to pay more than $3.9 million in back wages, fines, and fees over the last two months. “If FRIT had hired a responsible general contractor, all the various forms of public support for the project would not be benefiting contractors like Callahan and Force, whose business practices are antithetical to the public good,” read the resolution.

The resolution was sponsored by all 10 of the Aldermen who were present at the meeting, and many spoke on behalf of the resolution. “If [the project] is not making the quality of life better for the people in the city, than it’s not meeting the goal that I’d like to see,” said Ward 1 Alderman Matt McLaughlin.

Union carpenters and community members who live and work in Somerville were also present at the meeting. Mark Erlich, Executive Secretary Treasurer of the New England Regional Council of Carpenters, addressed the Board, elaborating on the record of Callahan Inc and thanking the Board for their support.

Somerville joins communities around the area in urging developers to use responsible contractors and to look carefully at the records of general contractors like Callahan Inc. Callahan’s business practices do not support a sustainable and healthy community, and area officials are rightly concerned about the impact these contractors have on their cities and towns.



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