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 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

The problem of human trafficking in construction and other industries was on full display at the American Jewish Committee's Immigration Summit 3.0 on March 18 at Rice University in Houston.  The panel discussion – featuring Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia, Letty Ashworth from Delta Airlines and your humble correspondent – focused on what government and business leaders can do to combat the problem.

No matter how anyone spins it, comprehensive immigration reform is a huge part of the solution.  Law enforcement must be enabled to go after those who are actually doing harm to others and not the wider group of people whom many are mad at for being undocumented.

The people who end up as victims of human trafficking may not be who you think.  While there are far too many women and children caught up in the criminal enterprise, there are also very many men who are trafficked for their labor.   Read more » about Immigration Summit 3.0 Focuses on Human Trafficking in Houston [VIDEO]

The following was originally published in Cornerstone, the quarterly magazine of AGC Houston.  Reprinted with permission.

In a year when most professional sports fans in Houston have not had much to cheer about, there was a brief shining moment for Astros fans earlier this year.  No, I am not referring to the fact that they own the number one pick in the draft for the second year in a row.

In January Craig Biggio, a Houston Astro from rookie to retirement, was expected to be voted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.  It was his second year in the voting, and his statistics shouted, “Hall of Famer”.  Only it did not happen.  He missed by two votes.  Unfortunately for Biggio, his baseball career spanned what has become known as the steroid era.

Biggio has never been accused of nor has it ever even been suggested that he used steroids.  But, the use of performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) by a litany of major league stars has tainted everyone and everything associated with Major League Baseball from the late 1980’s to 2010.  Many good players became tangled in the mess created by a significant few.

This got me thinking that maybe our industry has its own PED problem.  I’m not talking about contractors on steroids or any other illegal substance.  I am referring to a different PED – let’s call it proposal enhancing decisions.   Read more » about Construction’s “PED” Problem

Energized by the hiring of Executive Director, Chuck Gremillion, the Construction Career Collaborative (C3) Board and Committee Chairs met on February 6, 2014 at Marek Brothers Systems to establish their strategic goals for 2014.  Gremillion, a highly-respected industry leader who had run the A&E Graphic Complex, his family’s business until it was sold, came on board on February 1, 2014.  He took over from Katrina Kersch, a loaned Marek executive.

The group established three specific goals: Read more » about C3 Takes Next Steps Under New Leadership [VIDEO]

In what looks to many like a slap on the wrist, the feds are fining two companies involved in last year's collapse at the Texas A&M Equine Complex construction site that left four workers injured.  The Bryan-College Station Eagle reports that Ramco Erectors, a company based in Houston, was fined a little more than $40,000 for seven safety violations discovered by OHSA inspectors.  The general contractor, Gamma Construction, has also been hit with less than $7,000 in fines.  From the article:

“The injured – all of whom recovered from their injuries – were working on a 300-foot barn that was under construction as part of the $80 million Equine Complex when it collapsed due to a failure in structural stability, according to the OSHA citations.   Read more » about UPDATE: OSHA Fines and a Lawsuit at Texas A&M Over Construction Accidents

Pages