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Hotel project’s violations expose underground system of scams

The series of articles by Casey Ross on the illegal and unethical labor practices on the recent renovation of the Boston Marriott Copley Place pull back the curtain on the seamy underside of private construction. The sub-minimum-wage payments to workers in a drug rehab program are just the latest version of extensive underground-economy scams that hurt workers, legitimate employers, and taxpayers.

Host Hotels & Resorts’ claims of ignorance are disingenuous, at best. Early on in the project, the hotel became the site of weekly protests over these issues.

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While state regulatory agencies took aggressive action after completion of the job, those I consider ultimately responsible for the conditions — the owner and general contractor — have escaped punishment because of shortcomings in the laws.

A successful approach to correcting these practices will require more proactive tactics, such as suspending construction as soon as illegal practices are uncovered.

These conditions will occur again unless the penalties for cheating outweigh the savings realized.

Mark Erlich

Executive

secretary-treasurer

New England Regional

Council of Carpenters

Boston

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