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?

In an explosive investigation that drew the attention of many average Texans over the weekend, WFAA Television in Dallas/Fort Worth put a bright spotlight on the problem of worker misclassification. It’s a problem the Construction Citizen team has exposed for years and we greatly appreciate any time other media outlets take up the cause as well.

This most recent outrage came to light after three men working as independent subcontractors underneath Thanksgiving Tower in Dallas died in a horrific accident. But, the companies involved have denied damages to their families. How can that be? From the story:

Although they were little more than laborers, the State of Texas allows them to be called "independent contractors." That means they can get no workers compensation, and have no federal income tax or Social Security tax deducted from their paychecks.

Three independent contractors' deaths at Thanksgiving Tower are the subject of legal action, but the families of the three men will receive no compensation for their deaths. Byron Harris has more on the "invisible workers."   Read more » about DFW Television Report Puts Spotlight on Worker Misclassification

Editor's note: As President Obama’s most recent executive order on immigration is challenged in the courts and state lawmakers consider where to codify former Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s executive order on E-Verify, we thought it would be helpful to employers to offer the analysis of one of the nation’s foremost immigration attorneys. Charles C. Foster has advised Presidents Bush and Obama on the issue. Below, his analysis of how things may play out in the longhaul is offered for your consideration – The Construction Citizen Team.

“The arc of history is long but it bends towards justice.” - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Even the most ardent critics of President Obama’s executive actions on immigration must acknowledge they are undeniably sweeping, historic in scope and will have a huge impact on the large undocumented long-term residing population of the United States with one or more U.S. citizen children or children who are Lawful Permanent Residents.    Read more » about Immigration Executive Orders from Rick Perry and President Barack Obama: What They Mean for Texas

Construction firms and labor advocates alike have now told state lawmakers they are in favor of a proposal under consideration at the Texas Capitol to create a searchable database of employers convicted of stealing the wages of their workers.

Rep. Mary González, D-Clint, told the Texas House Business and Industry Committee during a public hearing that the current version of her legislation, House Bill 94, is the result of collaboration with business interests, workers’ rights advocates and Republican lawmakers who want to protect ethical employers and workers as well.

Former Republican Rep. John Davis, R-Clear Lake, helped the El Paso-area Democrat craft this legislation along with Rep. Cecil Bell, R-Magnolia, and Rep. Jim Murphy, R-Houston.

"Wage theft is bad for good business," González said.    Read more » about Business and Labor Join Forces in Push to Crack Down on Wage Theft in Texas

Hundreds marched through downtown Austin in Febuary to honor the men and women who have died in the Texas construction industry. The event was organized by Workers Defense Project and drew statewide support.

“It is heartbreaking that Texas remains the deadliest state in the country to work in construction. Workers Defense will keep organizing, marching, and taking action until our elected officials stand with the working families they represent,” said Cristina Tzintzún, Executive Director of Workers Defense Project.

“We are here today because the hands that build Texas in this deadly industry also feed families. It doesn’t have to be this way -- the Texas construction industry can be safe. But our elected officials must take action,” said Tzintzún.    Read more » about Hundreds March In Honor Of Fallen Workers

One major roadblock to creating a sustainable workforce in the Texas construction industry is rampant wage theft by unethical businesses in our state. Many of them are the very same companies that routinely misclassify their workers. 

As Construction Citizen has reported over the years, the refusal to pay people who do some of the hardest labor is not only commonplace, but in some cases has included alleged threats of violence. In one situation in Houston, for example, an employer was accused of threatening a worker at gunpoint when he simply asked to receive his paycheck. No one should have to go through that as they work honestly to support their family. Wage theft happens to workers who are both undocumented and documented, it should be noted.    Read more » about Bipartisan Push to Crack Down on Wage Theft in Texas

I love the construction industry and I speak from experience when telling you it has to be saved from itself. Since 1938, our family business has helped build the monuments of this city and this state. More importantly, our companies – like many others over the past 75 years – have helped tens of thousands of hard-working Americans enjoy an honorable blue collar, middle class standard of living. But, now our middle class is threatened like never before.

When I graduated from Texas A&M in 1969, after serving my active duty in the Marine Corps Reserves, I joined the local carpenters union as a drywall mechanic. Wages and benefits were very good and it was indeed a quality, middle class occupation. The non-union tradespeople enjoyed the same kind of lifestyle. We all received good hourly pay, overtime, worker’s compensation insurance protection and had employment taxes deducted and paid. There was a bond between company and worker.    Read more » about How the Construction Industry Can Help Save the American Middle Class

A man who had been homeless on the streets of Sacramento, California, says he has the local NBA team to thank for his new career in construction, which has led to an already improved quality of life. Eric Martinez is one of the heavy equipment operators helping to build the new downtown arena for the Sacramento Kings.

As part of the construction, the team partnered with local leaders to promote careers in the building trades.

The team's Community Workforce Pipeline - a program launched earlier this year - is designed specifically to help those in need transition into construction careers. In a news release, the team said, "The Apprenticeship Program is an unprecedented collaboration of several organizations...    Read more » about Sacramento Kings Promote Jobs in Construction

There’s almost nothing partisan or ideological about trying to stop companies from cheating taxpayers and their workers, which is exactly what happens when some firms misclassify their employees. As our readers know, worker misclassification happens when a company pretends its employees are subcontractors with the intent of avoiding payroll taxes and benefits like health insurance. Unions call it “payroll fraud.” Many of us just call it cheating, plain and simple.

The fact that this is a bipartisan issue became extra clear this past week following our report on new efforts in the Texas Legislature to try to rein in the practice, which has rightly been called “a scourge” and “a cancer” in the construction industry. It happens in other industries as well but it is especially rampant in construction.

Previous legislative attempts to deal with this in Texas have had mixed success. Now, a new bill has been filed in the Texas House.    Read more » about Conservatives and Liberals Alike Embrace Efforts to Crack Down on Worker Misclassification in Texas