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?

Far too often, construction companies cheat taxpayers and their workers by pretending their employees are independent subcontractors when, by law, they should be paid as employees. It’s a practice known as worker misclassification. Some ethical contractors have called it a “cancer that is eating at the heart of our industry.”

If a person is paid as a subcontractor, that individual is on the hook for payroll taxes and benefits like health insurance. When they’re injured, uninsured workers are often dropped off at county hospitals and the rest of us end up paying more in health costs and local property taxes.

In Construction Citizen’s Special Report, “Thrown Away People,” our team outlined many of the problems presented to society by the degradation of the employer – employee relationship. The McClatchy Newspaper chain this year followed up with a powerful series called “Contract to Cheat,” which took another in-depth look at the problem.    Read more » about Bill Filed to Crack Down on Worker Misclassification in Texas Construction Industry

As we reflect on Veterans Day this week, most of us think about the countless blessings we have because of the sacrifice and service of our country’s brave men and women.  There is no doubt that this holiday gives deserving recognition to those who have so gallantly served.  However, we can do more than simply recognize our veterans.  We must remember the words of John F. Kennedy, “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”

Earlier this year, the construction industry committed to hire 100,000 veterans over the next five years.  In order to accomplish this, Build Your Future (BYF) partnered with the U.S. Department of Defense to use an effective recruitment tool known as SkillBridge, an online, Twitter-based portal specifically for transitioning service members.

During the last 180 days of service, military personnel undergo a transition phase.  Transitioning into civilian life is a daunting challenge for many service members, and two out three veterans report having a difficult time during this process.  In addition, veterans listed the greatest challenge during the phase was finding a civilian job.   Read more » about What Veterans Day Means to Our Industry

As is happening in Texas and other states, lawmakers in North Carolina are now finally taking a look at what they should do to crack down on the epidemic levels of worker misclassification in the construction industry. Time Warner Cable News in Raleigh reports:

It comes on the heels of an investigative series in the News and Observer and its affiliated newspapers, highlighting the illegal practice of classifying employees as independent contractors in order to avoid paying taxes and other benefits. Read more » about Spurred by Media Coverage, North Carolina Lawmakers Zero In on Worker Misclassification

Last month marked the end of summer.  For most of us, that means no more trips to the beach or outdoor BBQs, but for many of our neighbors working construction in Texas, the falling temperatures offer desperately needed relief from brutal, and often life threatening, working conditions.

Billy Tirado is a foundation repairman from Dallas.  For the past 12 years, he’s worked hard to provide for his wife and three daughters, but he risks his health every time he works in the hot Texas sun.  Last summer, Billy was working for a foundation repair company that forbade him from stopping for water or rest.  As a result, he nearly fainted from heat exhaustion.  “Your body feels like it is suffocating...I felt dizzy.  My eyes got blurry.  I felt nauseous.”

Sadly, Billy’s experience is typical in the Texas construction industry.  Because there is no state or federal law ensuring rest breaks for construction workers, many employers fail to do the right thing; nearly 40% of Texas construction workers do not receive rest breaks on the job.  Workers who are denied rest breaks face higher risks of heat stroke, heat exhaustion, and even death.  This summer in Dallas, an average of two workers were hospitalized due to heat-related illnesses every day.   Read more » about Working Without Rest Puts Lives in Danger

The following is excerpted from an article by Ulf Wolf which was originally published in Construction Dimensions, a monthly publication by the Association of the Wall and Ceiling Industry.  Reprinted with permission.

You find yourself underbid by 30 percent.

The contractor in question swears on a stack of Bibles that all of his labor is legal and documented and that he, as required by law, pays payroll tax and workers’ comp for all of his crew just like everybody else (all the while his nose grows faster and longer than Pinocchio’s ever did).

Meanwhile, the general contractor has a complicated job to get done and may be unaware of any violations on his job site (or he may look the other way) while the owner – well, the owner doesn’t really want to be bothered with “details.”   Read more » about Immigration Reform and the Shadow Economy

Memorial Day prompts reflection and appropriately so. We must never forget all of those who gave their lives for our freedom, whether in the two World Wars, Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf or in the fighting that continues today. To paraphrase, Winston Churchill, “Never has so much been owed by so many to so few.”

This day also prompts homage to those who returned, those heroes who then turned their talents and patriotism to making this country the great nation that it is. One group that deserves our continuous study and emulation is the veterans of World War II, that special group of men and women heralded in Tom Brokaw’s marvelous book, The Greatest Generation. Brokaw wrote this book as a tribute to his father and his buddies, all World War II vets. It is a compelling story, which every American can benefit from reading. He eloquently conveys how this group came back, and although they were owed so much, they never wanted to do anything but continue to serve and give in their companies, their communities and their country. The leaders, both officers and enlisted, went on to start and head companies, to build America into a great industrial economy, while at the same time ensuring that the men and women who had served and supported them in wartime had decent jobs in peacetime, jobs that could allow them to feed their families and realize the American Dream.   Read more » about Lessons from the Greatest Generation: They are so Relevant Today

Texas’s capital city is economically booming in a way that’s almost unlike any other city in America, largely because of the region's technology industries.  Now, it is time for Austin to take the next step to ensure that the high-wage, high-tech economy also supports the creation of quality blue-collar jobs for working families.

That’s the argument laid out by Gregorio Casar, one of the “junkyard dogs” at the Workers Defense Project and now a candidate for Austin City Council.  He’s running for office at a chaotic time for Austin municipal elections now that the city has – as others have – moved to single-member districts that will allow each neighborhood to choose who represents them rather than having only at-large council members.  As many as six other candidates may be in the race with Casar before the vote this fall.   Read more » about Creation of Quality Construction Jobs Emerges as Issue in Austin Political Race

On Tuesday, the Texas House will consider what more needs to be done on the issue of worker misclassification. Mike Beeter, 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

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