Reshaping the Construction Industry

Workers who have been cheated out of their wages by unscrupulous employers in Houston are fighting back now that they have the tools to do so under the city's new wage theft ordinance. The city has received its first official complaints under the new law from some workers who say they were not receiving overtime pay that they are owed.

Via the Houston Chroncle's Lomi Kriel:

“Thirteen workers on Tuesday filed the first complaint under a new Houston ordinance aimed at preventing companies from stealing workers' wages.

“The workers, with the assistance of the nonprofit Faith and Justice Worker Center, filed documents with the city's inspector general alleging that their employer, Bradley Demolition and Construction, refused to pay them overtime. They say the company also failed to provide tax forms.   Read more » about First Wage Theft Complaints Filed Under Houston's New Law

Originally posted on

Marek’s Atlanta Branch sponsored and participated in the annual CEFGA Career Expo and Skills USA State Championship on March 13th-14th. This event is regarded as one of the nation’s top construction and SkillsUSA events and had 7212 students in attendance this year.

The Career Expo is Georgia’s largest interactive career exploration event and is designed for middle, high and technical college students. Thousands of students interested in the construction industry were able to experience different industry trades hands on.   Read more » about Marek and CEFGA Working to Recruit the Next Generation into the Industry

State employment data, Beige Book find widespread increases; starts dip, Reed says

Editor’s note:  Construction Citizen is proud to partner with AGC America to bring you AGC Chief Economist Ken Simonson's Data DIGest. Check back each week to get Ken's expert analysis of what's happening in our industry.

Seasonally adjusted construction employment increased in 38 states between March 2013 and March 2014, decreased in 11 states and the District of Columbia, and remained level in Alaska, an AGC analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data released Friday showed. The largest percentage gains were in Florida (11%, 41,000); Oregon (11%, 7,800); and Minnesota (10%, 10,200). Florida also led in number of jobs added, followed by California (37,100, 5.9%) and Texas (17,100, 2.8%). New Jersey lost the most construction jobs (-4,600, -3.4%), followed by Kentucky (-1,900, -2.8%) and West Virginia (-1,700, -4.9%). The steepest percentage losses over the year occurred in West Virginia, New Jersey and D.C. (-2.9%, -400).   Read more » about AGC's Data DIGest: April 14 – 18, 2014

On Tuesday, the Texas House will consider what more needs to be done on the issue of worker misclassification. President and CEO of BRI Roofing in Fort Worth is very concerned about the practice, which has been called a “cancer” in the construction industry. We are pleased to publish his open letter to the members of the committee looking into it.

Honorable members of the Texas House Committee on Business and Industry,

I am writing today as a business owner concerned about a serious challenge facing not only my industry, but society at large. The problem is so immense that it will not be fixed without ethical companies as well as government joining together to stop the fraud known simply as “worker misclassification.” I am very glad to see your committee is considering what to do about the problem. Below, you will see my thoughts as to the real risk associated with keeping the status quo. The issue is complex and I am providing you with many details to consider. But, the bottom line is that worker misclassification is fraud, plain and simple. Read more » about An open letter to Texas Lawmakers on Worker Misclassification

Editor’s note:  The following was written by Saied Alavi, Division Operations Manager at Marek Brothers in Houston.

In my business today, as in the great building traditions of the past, skilled well-trained crafts people are our most important and valuable asset.  From the hundreds who make up our field employees to the estimating and administrative teams who support them, from the youngest trainee and intern to the most senior supervisor – each one is critical to the delivery of our craft at Marek.

On any day, you can pick up the phone and order a hundred new screw guns or chop saws and receive delivery in a day or two.  You can place an order for truckloads of gypsum board or metal studs and receive delivery in a few days.  However, if you need ten experienced drywall or acoustical ceiling mechanics, there is no guarantee that you can find them in a week or even a month.  And finding skilled workers is becoming more of a daily problem as the economy recovers and construction expands again.   Read more » about Investing in an Educated Workforce: A Winning Combination

Now that the Texas Legislature is taking a hard look at the way education reforms are being implemented across the state, I thought now would be a good time to reflect on my recent experience traveling to Austin to talk with the State Board of Education about this important issue.  As you might have heard, lawmakers passed a reform bill last year that created more flexibility for students who are trying to get a high school diploma in Texas.  Those of us in the trades, like construction, have been very supportive of this for two main reasons: we want to see as many young people succeed as possible, and we feel there’s a career for many of them in our industries.

When I went to Austin to give public testimony on behalf of our education partner, NCCER, I understood that my goal was to provide an employer’s perspective of the relevance and rigor we find within the NCCER curricula and why we think utilizing industry standard curricula would give high school students an advantage in the work place.   Read more » about Give Education Reform in Texas a Chance to Work

PPIs remain mild; most metros add jobs; ABI ably predicts building activity, AIA finds

Editor’s note:  Construction Citizen is proud to partner with AGC America to bring you AGC Chief Economist Ken Simonson's Data DIGest. Check back each week to get Ken's expert analysis of what's happening in our industry.

Sign up for a complimentary webinar on construction outlook on April 17 with me; AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker; and Reed Construction Data’s Chief U.S. Economist, Bernard Markstein.

The producer price index (PPI) for final demand increased 0.7%, not seasonally adjusted (0.5%, seasonally adjusted), in March and 1.4% over 12 months, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported Friday.   Read more » about AGC's Data DIGest: April 7 – 11, 2014

A Texas House Committee has scheduled a hearing on the issue of worker misclassification and what more the state may need to do to combat the problem that is particularly rampant in the construction industry.  The House Business and Industry Committee will take testimony on the implementation of a limited crackdown that was signed into law by Governor Rick Perry last year.  The hearing is slated for Tuesday, April 22 at the state capitol.

The official announcement of the public hearing says that the panel of lawmakers will be looking into “the issue of misclassifying employees as independent contractors on workers, employers, income tax withholding, and the unemployment insurance system.  And the review of current statutory deterrents, including those required by HB 2015.”  That bill just took effect on the first of this year.

As our readers are well aware, the practice of employee misclassification happens when companies pretend their workers are independent subcontractors when, by law, those workers should be properly classified as employees.   Read more » about Misclassification Hearing is Set in the Texas House

Software Advice has released the results of their 2014 buyer review for construction software.  An article written by Janna Finch, Managing Editor of Software Advice, points out some interesting results.

  • Seventy-eight percent (78%) of buyers (in the Construction industry) have no deployment preference, whereas most buyers in other industries tend to prefer cloud-based systems.
  • The most frequently cited reason for buying new (construction) software is increased efficiency or productivity, with 28 percent of the sample saying they hoped to achieve this benefit.

  Read more » about Construction Software Usage Growing

E'hem.  Excuse me for just a moment, but I have to toot the horn of my good friends at Chamberlin.  These folks sure are making me proud!

In just the last few months, the Chamberlin team has been showered with kudos and awards from the likes of ABC, AGC, ASA, IREM and NRCA.  We have been honored for National Excellence in Construction, National Safety Excellence and Construction Safety Excellence.  Members of the Chamberlin team have been recognized for zero lost work days and named MVP by the Roofing Industry Alliance for Progress.  We've been honored for supporting the community at large and for being a player in our industry circle.   Read more » about Bursting with Pride


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