Reshaping the Construction Industry

Texas is an economic engine unlike any other, but there are things that could put the brakes on our dynamic growth.  Congested highways and the unreasonably long commutes that go along with them have the potential to slow commerce in a way that promises to be detrimental to the Texas economic experience.  With over 1,000 people moving here each day, we’re told to expect as many as 18 million additional vehicles on our roads by the year 2040.  That’s 45 million cars and trucks.

When Governor Rick Perry first took over the central office at the Texas Capitol in 2000, the state had zero debt for roads.  One of Perry's enduring legacies – for better or worse – is that he embraced government debt to finance construction of highways.  Now the credit card is maxed out, and voters across the ideological spectrum are opposed to more toll roads.   Read more » about Texas Voters to Decide on Taking a Step Forward for Road Construction

Some employers mistakenly believe that wage and salary information can be kept confidential.  In my law practice, I occasionally see policies stating that employees may not discuss compensation with their co-workers.  Such policies are illegal.

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) takes the position that discussing compensation and benefits is “protected concerted activity” under the National Labor Relations Act.  An employer who tells employees not to discuss such matters is risking an unfair labor practice charge and sanctions by the NLRB.

Depending on the content, social media posts may be “protected concerted activity.”  Check with your employment lawyer before firing anyone for social media activity.  That Facebook post complaining about low wages, long hours or a bad boss may be legally protected.

There is a new development for federal contractors.  Earlier this year President Obama signed an Executive Order prohibiting federal contractors from taking adverse action against employees or applicants for discussing compensation.  The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) just issued proposed regulations and we are in the comment period: visit their website to read the proposed rule and add your comments.   Read more » about Compensation Information is Not Confidential

Cost increases widen, three surveys report; AIA finds billings rise, stalled projects revive

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.

Current construction costs increased for the 32nd consecutive month in September,” IHS and the Procurement Executives Group (PEG) reported last Wednesday.  “The headline current IHS PEG Engineering and Construction Cost Index (ECCI) registered 57.8% in September, up from 53% in August, and by a narrow margin, the highest reading since March 2013….The materials/equipment component of the ECCI strengthened to 59.0%, up 5.5 [percentage points] from August….all 12 components show[ed] higher prices, following an August reading that showed six components either neutral or falling.   Read more » about AGC's Data DIGest: September 23-29, 2014

The following article originally appeared in the August newsletter to clients of Kiley Advisors, LLC.  Reprinted with permission.

In every good company there are two functions that must occur simultaneously, but require different skill sets, and they must become integrated at the CEO and senior management team.  One activity is managing what is under contract TODAY – seeing that schedules and budgets are met.  There is not margin or fee fade; overhead is controlled.  The other activity is doing the things that ensure that the organization will have TOMORROW – creating a clear vision of a desired future, then acquiring the resources and making the changes necessary to realize that future.   Read more » about Today and Tomorrow: Managing and Leading

There is growing anger across the nation about the about the cancer of worker misclassification in the construction industry.  Why are more and more political leaders, thought leaders, and others calling it a “scam” and saying that something needs to be done quickly to deal with these cheaters?

Well, as Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis famously intoned: “Sunlight is the best disinfectant.”  That’s the way most people know the quote.  The entire quote is this: “Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases.  Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman.”

The steady attention Construction Citizen has given this issue has helped inspire media outlets like the Dallas Morning News to call for a crackdown.   Read more » about More Thought Leaders Call for Cracking Down on Worker Misclassification

Editor’s note: The following was originally published in Cornerstone, the quarterly magazine of AGC Houston.  Reprinted with permission.

This December will mark the fifth anniversary of the discussions that evolved into what is now the Construction Career Collaborative (C3).  While there was a general consensus that a future workforce problem was real, creating a viable plan with an industry as diverse as construction raised many red flags.  Needless to say, there was a good deal of skepticism all around from the very start.  Fueling the skepticism was the simple fact that in late 2009, companies had more important issues to worry about than a future workforce shortage.  Most firms were working on their own work shortage at that time.   Read more » about Committed To Growing Houston’s Construction Workforce

On September 11, OSHA released new reporting rules for workers injured on projects that fall (no pun intended) under federal OSHA jurisdiction.  The new record keeping rules will go into effect on January 1, 2015.  This rule will likely impact a number of contractors and subs that were operating under the old rules or skirting the rules entirely.

The new reporting rules require that employers notify OSHA when an employee is killed on the job or suffers a work-related hospitalization, amputation or loss of an eye.  The American Subcontractors Association newsletter said that “The rule tightens the reporting rules significantly.  The current rules required employers to report work related fatalities or in-patient hospitalizations for three or more employees.”  Reporting of single person hospitalizations, amputations or loss of an eye were not required under the existing rules, but that has changed.

Now any single severe injury, illness or death requires the employer to notify OSHA.   Read more » about New OSHA Reporting Rules for Injured Workers

Construction employment rises in 36 states; BLS, Means, FHWA price indexes diverge

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 36 states from August 2013 to August 2014, decreased in 12 states and the District of Columbia, and remained flat in Idaho and New Hampshire, an AGC analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data released last Friday showed. Florida again added the most jobs (43,500 jobs, 12%), followed by California (35,600, 5.6%) and Texas (27,700, 4.5%). The largest percentage gains were in Nevada (13%, 7,200 jobs), Florida, Utah (11%, 8,400) and Delaware (11%, 2,100). New Jersey had the worst construction job losses, -11,300 jobs and -8.1%, followed by Arizona, -5,400, -4.4% (fourth highest percentage loss); Mississippi, -3,700, -7.1% (second in percent lost); and West Virginia, -1,800, -5.3% (third in percent lost).   Read more » about AGC's Data DIGest: September 16-22, 2014

Those of us in the construction industry are aware of the vast opportunities that exist for individuals who are willing to build.  October is Careers in Construction Month, and it’s the perfect time to spread the word about these opportunities.  According to new research from CareerBuilder and Economic Modeling Specialists International, 73 percent of high school seniors reported that they already know which career they want to pursue.  Research like this tells us that we need to start early when promoting careers in construction as we seek to recruit the next generation of craft professionals.

Informational resources are paramount to recruitment, and NCCER’s Build Your Future (BYF) initiative offers numerous resources to support the recruitment efforts of our industry’s next skilled workforce.   Read more » about Kicking Off Careers in Construction Month This October

Editor's note: The following article was originally posted on

On July 23rd, Marek was pleased to recognize several of our workforce development participants for various levels of graduation within our program. An earlier post by Arthur Ehmling, our corporate training coordinator, outlined the specific levels attained by the 21 helpers, 8 mechanics, and 18 foremen, who worked very diligently to reach these levels.

In addition to our graduates, we wanted to acknowledge the contributions of our coaches, whose daily guidance is critical to each of their trainees. Also instrumental are our supervisors and workforce development executive committee, whose support, leadership, and vision establish the culture of expectations for both trainees and coaches.

At Marek, we regularly put our new trainees through on boarding sessions, commonly referred to as the “Bus tour”, a term coined by our Dallas Division President John Hinson. “If you’re coming with Marek, you’d better get on the bus," John would say to the Dallas trainees. The saying stuck around Houston too.   Read more » about Building Blocks: A Story from the Marek Workforce Development Graduation Ceremony


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