Know Your Legislature

FAQs

  • How common a problem is it that construction workers aren’t paid for their work?

    One in five surveyed construction workers has reported not being fully paid for their work in the last three years. Although it is impossible to determine the total amount of lost wages in the construction industry in Austin, Workers Defense Project estimates that it receives $6,739,200 in wage theft complaints annually from construction workers. Though Workers Defense Project serves workers in all industries, 80% of Workers Defense Project’s total wage theft cases result from the construction industry.
  • How many workers die in Texas each year?

    Texas is the most deadly state to work in construction. According to the most recent data, 138 construction workers were killed on the job in Texas in 2009. That’s nearly twice as many as any other state in the country. It means that every 2.5 days a construction worker in Texas dies.
  • How common are workplace injuries?

    One in every five construction workers is injured on the job, requiring medical attention.
  • What is workers’ compensation and how does it work in Texas?

    • Workers’ Compensation is a program managed by the state of Texas that employers can purchase to care for their workers if they are hurt on the job. Workers’ Compensation pays for medical bills related to the workplace injury and provides a wage replacement while the worker is unable to work (70% of their salary).
    • Texas is the only state that doesn’t require employers to provide workers’ compensation. Any employer, even construction employers where the injury and death rates are so high, can choose not to provide workers’ compensation.
    • Only 45% of construction workers are covered by workers compensation3
    • Texas ranks 50th in the nation for adult workers covered by workers compensation with 23.5% of workers without coverage compared to the national average of 8.9%.
  • Who pays when workers get injured on the job?

    bbt-chart-01 In 2008, Texas hospitals paid $13.1 billion to cover uncompensated healthcare costs for indigent patients5. Construction workers make up a disproportionate number of uncompensated care cases.

    On a large hospital, this burden can total several hundred million dollars in a single year. Hospitals pay for these expenses through public funding, and shifting the cost onto paying patients and insurers.

    Of the total public cost of healthcare for uninsured Texans in 20056:

    • Roughly half ($4.6 billion) was paid for by patients and their families.
    • One-sixth ($1.6 billion) was paid for by government health programs.
    • The remaining third was subsidized by employers and individuals with private health insurance through higher healthcare costs ($3 billion).
  • How does this cost honest businesses and families money?

    bbt-chart-02
    • This remaining private insurance subsidization on uncompensated healthcare costs amounted to an additional $1,551 in premiums for a family or employer-provided health insurance policy in Texas.
    • It was estimated that by 2010, that figure would grow to an extra $2,786 per Texas family7.

     

  • How does this cost taxpayers more money?

    • State level funding provides partial reimbursement for uncompensated care at trauma centers.
    • In counties with public hospitals, but no public health district, hospitals receive funding directly from the Texas Department of State Health Services, which is funded by your state taxes
    • Local Health Districts depend on local taxes to meet increased demand on public hospitals; this results in higher property taxes.
  • How does misclassification of workers as independent contractors affect me?

    Misclassification results in millions of dollars lost each year to the Texas Unemployment Insurance Trust, which Texas workers access when they become unemployed. With unemployment in Texas at a decade high, and the unemployment trust fund for the state depleted, Texas has already taken out a 1.3 billion loan from the federal government to make up the deficit in the fund and is considering selling another $2 billion in bonds to refill it.8 More debt for Texas means the state will have to identify new sources of income- through taxes or fees. And families whose unemployment benefits are delayed or denied are forced to fall back on public safety nets.
  • What should be done to protect workers?

    We recommend a series of best practices that can be implemented by industry leaders and policymakers to improve working conditions and ensure continued economic prosperity in an industry so important to Texas. We need state policies that reward honest businesses and protect working families from hardship.