Across the country, roughly 10 million construction workers spend each day in a dangerous and fickle industry. They hang drywall, lay carpet, shingle roofs. Yet in the eyes of their bosses, they aren't employees due the benefits the government requires.
Employers treat many of these laborers as independent contractors -- a tactic that costs taxpayers billions of dollars each year. Yet when it comes to public projects, government regulators have done nearly nothing about it, even when the proof is easy to get.
The workers don't have protections. The companies don't withhold taxes. The regulators don't seem to care.
McClatchy reporters spent a year unraveling the scheme, using little-noticed payroll records that show how widespread the practice has become.
Coming Thursday online and starting Sunday in print: A special investigation spanning eight news organizations in seven states uncovers how it happens under the government’s nose, and what it costs us all.