The Tip of an Iceberg: Substantial Wage Theft Complaints in Oregon’s Construction Industry

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The Tip of an Iceberg: Substantial Wage Theft Complaints in Oregon’s Construction Industry

InsideCapitolDome

The Tip of an Iceberg: Substantial Wage Theft Complaints in Oregon’s Construction Industry

This fact sheet summarizes the findings of an OCPP analysis of wage claims filed with the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) by construction workers over a four-year period ending June 2010. The analysis reveals that wage theft is a significant problem within Oregon’s construction industry.

Specifically, the analysis of the wage filings by construction workers found the following.

  • Number of filings. Construction workers filed 1,823 claims for unpaid wages during the four-year period.
  • Amount sought. The claims alleging unlawful denial of compensation totaled $5.2 million over the period. The average claim was $2,847. Some workers filed multiple claims during the period.
  • Amount found due. Of the claims alleging a total of $5.2 million in unpaid wages, BOLI found that workers were owed $3.2 million. This amount reflects only the cases where BOLI issued a ruling. BOLI was not able to rule on some of the claims, such as those where the bureau could not locate the employer or faced other barriers to investigation.
  • Amount recovered. Of the wages that BOLI determined were owed, workers recovered only $1.9 million — 61 percent — of the total amount due.

The figures above, troubling as they are, likely reflect just the tip of the iceberg of wage theft within Oregon’s construction industry. The numbers capture only the share of construction workers with wage claims who knew about BOLI and sought the bureau’s assistance despite the possibility of employer reprisal.

OCPP

OCPP

Written by staff at the Oregon Center for Public Policy.

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