NBC Nightly News: Unpaid construction workers go hungry while others profit

Focusing on a case that began in Iowa with the North Central States Regional Council of Carpenters giving aid to six construction workers who were starving, NBC Nightly News broadcast a special segment on wage theft in the construction industry.

The NBC segment investigates this particular case as well as the larger issue of wage theft in the construction industry. Click here or above to watch it.

The workers were brought to Iowa from Texas by a labor broker to do repair work for BluSky Restoration Contractors of Centennial, Colorado. As storm damages have increased, restoration work has become an attractive investment for private-equity firms. BluSky is one of those firms and boasts that it completed 37,000 projects in 44 states in 2020.

That private equity, though, had problems flowing down to the six workers in Iowa. Their labor broker said he could not pay them because, he claimed, he had not been paid by BluSky. The six workers reached out to the North Central States Regional Council for assistance. The council, with the help of a local church and community activists, made sure the workers were fed and sheltered.

“The first thing that set us back was they told us they hadn’t been paid in weeks and had very minimal food,” said Royce Peterson, council representative. “We decided to take a delegation into the jobsite to demand they pay these people.”

After local media exposure, BluSky did pay the workers, but the workers had to sign a non-disclosure agreement. Daniel Galvin, a professor at Northwestern University, said when discussing worker abuse, “Once you realize the extent of the problem, it’s hard to look away.”