Thursday, October 6, 2016
In building boom, immigrant workers face exploitation
By Beth Healy and Megan Woolhouse, Boston Globe
September 18, 2016
Luis Mayancela was 15 years old when he fell from the roof of a house in Portland, Maine, where he was helping fasten shingles. He tumbled two stories, severely breaking his leg.
“I couldn’t breathe, much less talk,” recalled Mayancela, an Ecuadoran who took the job in 2013 to help support his family. “It’s pain you don’t forget.”
He is one of thousands of immigrants, many undocumented, helping meet the demand for workers in the region’s booming construction industry. They haul slabs of sheetrock and climb rooftops and dusty scaffolds, doing often dangerous work for contractors seeking cheap labor.
A Globe investigation found that these workers, eager for a paycheck, are often paid below the prevailing wage and illegally, in cash. They are also the most likely to be subjected to unsafe work conditions, without insurance to cover medical bills or lost pay if they get hurt. And the unscrupulous contractors who employ them are too seldom caught and penalized.[...]
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