Sophisticated project owners and developers pick premier contractors who are principled, are socially responsible and develop their workforce. They know that contractors who build lasting, high quality employee relationships and career paths for their craftspeople consistently deliver the best value and results. Their practices produce tax revenue and stability to communities while also lowering social service burdens.

Knowledgeable owners and developers avoid using contractors who are are unprincipled and who use misclassified or undocumented workers who are often paid in cash and lack the skills, long-term commitment and support necessary for producing top quality work. They know these second-rate practices not only lead to poor results and hidden costs but also have social consequences in their communities including uncollected taxes, increased social services costs and lower incomes.

What do socially responsible contractors get in return for being responsible?

Do "socially indifferent" or "socially irresponsible" owners, developers and contractors in your community face consequences to their reputation and business?

The Greater Houston Partnership (GHP) hosted a town hall on Friday for leaders in the education and construction industries to learn about and discuss ways in which they can partner to bring workforce opportunities to students and build the construction craft workforce of the future.  The UpSkill Houston Town Hall: Build Your Facilities and Build Your Community was held in the GHP’s beautiful new space in Partnership Tower, where regional superintendents, college and university chancellors, and construction contractor executives and owners enjoyed a light lunch while listening to the program before offering their own comments and questions to the panel at the end.

Bob Harvey, President and CEO of the Greater Houston Partnership, kicked off the program by welcoming the group.   Read more » about GHP Hosts Forum to Discuss Partnership Between Business and Education to Build Construction Workforce

Following high-profile immigration raids and a shift in the enforcement stance of the federal government, there have been reports around Texas over the last week that some construction workers do not feel safe reporting to work.

It may all be a matter of perception, given that President Trump has described the raids as a wide “military operation” while the Department of Homeland Security portrayed the recent enforcement actions as fairly routine. But that perception can be a reality for the industry if there is fear among a large percentage of the workforce that they may be rounded up on jobsites.

“The Texas (and national) construction industry has been suffering a workforce shortage for many years now,” said Phil Thoden, President of AGC Austin. “In fact, the latest AGC of America survey conducted in 2016 found that 74% of Texas contractors are having trouble filling craft worker positions, and that number has been consistently high for several years.”   Read more » about After Immigration Raids, Construction Firms See Mixed Reaction Among Workforce

President Trump's hastily arranged ban on foreigners traveling to the United States from select countries sparked protests, invited a court fight, and helped make the case for large-scale immigration reform - even if that last result was not a consequence he intended.

During the campaign and in defending his most recent immigration actions, Trump repeatedly has made the argument that we need to know who is here and what their intentions are toward the United States. On that, he could not be more correct.

But instead of governing in precisely the way that Republicans for years criticized President Obama - issuing executive orders only to have them quickly and aggressively challenged in federal court - President Trump could seize the moment of a unified GOP government in Washington and work with leaders in his own party to enact a meaningful and lasting solution. Without giving anyone a free pass, the time is right to identify and tax those who are now living in the shadows.    Read more » about Trump's Immigration Actions Underscore Need for Reform

Sheral Keller, the director of the Office of Workers’ Compensation Administration at the Louisiana Workforce Commission (OWCA), has written an article in which she explains how worker misclassification and payroll fraud have directly harmed Louisiana employees and taxpaying citizens in past years, and how in 2017 the OWCA Fraud Unit and the Office of Unemployment Insurance (UI) plan to work together to combat these unscrupulous and illegal practices.  The article was published in the Greater Baton Rouge Business Report and in the first quarter 2017 edition of 10/12 Industry Report.  The article includes numbers from the past two years:

“In 2016, the Fraud Unit investigated 790 allegations of fraud, with 20 having been referred to the Attorney General’s Office.  Successful criminal prosecutions resulted in restitution of $1,233,875 from nine employers and $391,018 from 11 employees.  While these numbers are impressive, they represent only the tip of the iceberg of the fraud committed in our state, mostly by employer misclassification.

“In 2015, audits of 1,068 companies by UI identified approximately 19,956 people misclassified as independent contractors rather than as employees (2016 numbers were not available at press time).  Consequently, the agency billed $1,496,778 in unemployment insurance taxes that employers owed based on the underreporting of $100,818,591 in taxable wages.”   Read more » about Louisiana Director of Workers’ Comp Admin Outlines Plan to Fight Payroll Fraud

It is a game almost older than dirt, a “table stakes” game. Every contractor or sub has been tempted to play the game at one time or another to win a project. It is commonly known as “the grey bag,” or “this is the way it is played here,” or “I know that you are not the lowest, but…” or “if you will hire this consultant on the project, I will guarantee that you will get it,” or “if you will hire my cousin’s company as a sub on this project or that one, then I will help you get the project.”

The legal profession knows it as “bribery” and even though it continues on projects around the country, the downside risk if you play is considerable.

Two recent examples caught our eye. The first was reported in the Houston Chronicle. It involves a former Houston Independent School Board member and Chairman who, along with his co-defendants, were convicted of “tortious interference in a business relationship, bribery, conspiracy and a violation of the RICO statutes." The game involved collusion among the trustee, a contractor and a “consultant” to block the plaintiff’s attempts to get work from the school district. The game was that in order to get work, the bidder had to hire the consultant and pay fees.    Read more » about Games Contractors, Subs and Owners Play: Bribery

A recent post by Joe Paduda, principal of Health Strategies Associates, in his blog, Managed Care Matters, titled “Construction Labor Fraud is Screwing Everyone” was the second in his series on labor fraud and the damage it is doing to the insurance industry. In this issue, he interviewed Matt Capece, representative of the General President at the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, about how bad the worker’s comp problem has become in some key states like Florida, Georgia, Colorado, Oklahoma and Tennessee.

Capece said, “When we go onto jobsites in Florida, on 8-9 out of 10 sites we hear from carpenters that they are getting paid in cash.” He indicated that subs and labor brokers in Florida are paying in cash with no overtime or any other benefits like vacation, worker’s comp or training. Usually they are also misclassified as independent contractors as well.    Read more » about Games GCs and Subs (Labor Brokers and Insurance Agents) Play: Worker’s Comp

The following article is a guest piece by Jose Garza, Executive Director of Workers Defense Project:

Today, the middle class is out of reach for too many men and women working in the Texas construction industry.

That hasn’t always been the case.

After serving in the Pacific during World War II, my grandfather, Saul, returned to Texas in 1945 hopeful and optimistic about the future. He got his start working for a general contractor in San Antonio where he picked up the skills that would  lay the foundation for the life that he and his family hoped to build.

Eventually, through his hard work and good fortune, he was hired by the Texas Highway Department. There, he earned good wages and had access to benefits that allowed him to raise eight children and put several of them through college.    Read more » about Garza: Building a Better Texas, Together

During a nationally televised report on Fox News Channel, a prominent Texas construction executive said President-elect Donald Trump has a chance to be both tough and smart on border security and immigration.

Stan Marek, President and CEO of the Marek Family of Companies, said the President-elect needs to enact immigration reform that identifies and taxes those who are illegally in the country. But that does not meant Trump would be somehow softening his position on border security, Marek said.

Instead, Marek insists that the best border security happens at the job site.

That increased security would be accomplished by issuing tamper-proof ID’s only to workers who are authorized to be in the United States.   Read more » about Texas Construction CEO on Fox News Channel: Trump Can be Both Smart and Tough on Immigration

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