State House committee clears proposed bill to vet workers
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HARRISBURG -- The state House Labor and Industry Committee took a step today to get rid of illegal immigrants who work in the construction industry in Pennsylvania and to prevent other illegals from getting such jobs in the future.
It unanimously approved House Bill 380, which requires contractors and subcontractors to use either of two federal systems, e-Verify or the Social Security system, to make sure all of their workers are American citizens who were born in the United States or foreign citizens who have entered the country legally and have the proper government papers.
The bill requires the state Department of Labor and Industry to check on construction employers to make sure they have properly "vetted'' all their workers. If they fail or refuse to do so, contractors will be barred from working on publicly funded projects, meaning projects with state or local funding. The bill doesn't apply to privately funded construction work.
The bill's sponsor, Rep. John Galloway, D-Bucks, said studies have shown there are at least 35,000 illegal immigrants now working on Pennsylvania construction projects, while unemployment in the industry is almost 40 percent, a situation that takes away carpenter, steamfitter and other laborer jobs that legal residents could fill.
He said many employers "cheat'' the state by paying low wages and no benefits to illegal immigrants and not paying wage taxes to the state, as a way to save money on projects, while people who are legally in the state lose out on jobs.
The bill could be voted on by the full House before the June 30 recess for summer, committee chairman Rep. Ron Miller, R-York, said, but a vote in the state Senate may have to wait until the fall.
First Published June 20, 2012 1:00 pm