The Savannah Regional Central Labor Union Council represents 45 local labor unions and they are fighting for better pay for their members. The problem is employers who misclassify workers by taking advantage of the contractor worker 1099 tax status. When employers do this, they skirt state taxes, the workers pay higher taxes and legitimate employees paying into the state unemployment and other benefits are cheated of a competitive wage.
The former president of SRCLUC, Brett Hulme, says “this classification issue depresses wages because there again, companies paying by the rules are at an unfair competitive advantage to give their workers raises and they try to compete with the marketplace at the same time. If everybody plays by the rules, the problem will fix itself.”
According to a 2016 Department of Labor audit of just 2% of Georgia businesses, as mandated by the federal government, the DOL discovered Georgia was cheated out of $10M in taxes.
Hulme says “ultimately this affects everyone in the community because it comes down to tax avoidance, which affects the budget in Atlanta, which affects the teachers in the classroom here.”
And its not just union members getting a smaller check says Hulme, “basically, according to the Department of Labor, you’re either an employee entitled to all these rights or you’re an independent contractor entitled to a separate set of rights. As independent contractors, employers avoid the tax liability shifting it all to the workers, and in a lot of cases, the worker is unaware of this liability until he gets his tax bill.”
The SRCLUC is lobbying state lawmakers to introduce legislation to clarify the contractor status and vote in candidates during the general election who support union workers. The SRCLUC represents many Savannah labor unions from Teamsters to teachers and firefighters to longshoremen.