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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?

I have been in the construction industry my whole life.  As was my great grandfather who built the castles in Olomouc, Czech Republic but left to find the freedom offered by emigrating to America.  My Father and his brothers started our company 75 years ago with the sons of immigrant farmers from Central Texas towns like Yoakum, Hallettsville, and Shiner.  After many years of success in building a quality labor force of young men off the farm, the equation changed.  Latino workers came by the millions to fill the jobs that our growing nation provided.  President Reagan's immigration reform in 1986 offered amnesty for those already in the country but failed to create a legal way to migrate for the millions who would come after them.

Estimates are that over 30 million men and women immigrated to the U.S. in the two decades from 1986 to 2006.  Some left after a few years, but most stayed, put down roots, and tried to assimilate into their communities.   Read more » about How Immigration Reform Can Save the Construction Industry

A 19-year-old construction worker who barely survived a worksite accident at a high-rise construction project in downtown Austin says he was fired because he told federal safety investigators what happened, the Workers Defense Project revealed this weekend.  On Saturday, Wilmer Lopez Sanchez and others took to the streets in the rain and the cold to protest what they called his retaliatory firing.

On November 8th, a load of reinforcing steel fell several stories from a crane at the new luxury apartment high-rise at 7th and Rio Grande.  Lopez Sanchez was nearly crushed and other workers were rushed to the hospital.  Federal safety investigators interviewed Lopez Sanchez about the accident on Tuesday afternoon.  He was fired the next day.  “They almost took my life.  Now they've taken my job,“ he said.

Read more » about Workers Defense: Austin Worker Loses Job for Cooperating with Safety Investigators

Cristina Tzintzún, the executive director and co-founder of Austin’s Workers Defense Project (WDP), was a guest last Friday on the MSNBC show Up Late with Alec Baldwin.  As government leaders continue to argue about how to handle immigration reform, Baldwin sat down with Tzintzún to talk about the efforts of the WDP “to defend the rights of undocumented workers”, and why comprehensive immigration reform in the United States is crucial for the future of the construction industry.  With 11 million undocumented immigrants living and working in the United States, their treatment from a humanitarian point of view is no small problem.  Baldwin introduces the topic by explaining:

“While the battle over immigration reform plays out in Washington, out in the rest of the country, out of the spotlight, those undocumented workers are fighting real battles just to feed their families.  Why?  Because without the protection of citizenship, they are vulnerable to exploitation like wage theft – people hiring them to do work and then not paying them, in unsafe and even deadly work conditions. ... The Workers Defense Project in Texas is leading the fight to change this.”   Read more » about Alec Baldwin Interviews WDP Director: Construction Industry Needs Immigration Reform

Responsible Business Owners and Working Families Urge Council Support and Action to Bring Wage Theft Down

As Houston city council members shift into campaign mode to convince voters to re-elect them on November 5, thousands of Houstonians are urging them to close unfinished business when it comes to wage theft.  Last week, faith and business industry leaders along with working families and employees of city subcontractors with cases of wage theft all gathered together in front of City Hall with a clear message: pass the Anti-Wage Theft Ordinance now!  Following that show of support for the ordinance, Mayor Annise Parker has since stated that she will put the proposed ordinance on the Full Council Agenda for vote on November 13th.

On October 15, supporters of the ordinance gathered with posters profiling two local families affected by wage theft.  The group heard from speakers including Reverend Ron Lister, Reverend John Griffin, Sister Ceil Roeger, and Joe Marcinkowski.   Read more » about Houstonians Expose Impacts of Wage Theft on Victims and Urge City Council to Act

Hi there.  The Chamberlin Man here.

Company values and good causes are topping the charts of popular corporate initiatives these days.  Guess that makes Chamberlin doubly “en vogue”.  Our longstanding relationship with the Houston nonprofit organization, The WorkFaith Connection, is closely aligned with our company values.

Of course, we aren’t involved to demonstrate how hip we are.  We are involved because it's a cause near and dear to our hearts, with a mission similar to our own.  The ROI (return on investment) has been incredible, although not defined by dollars but by lives changed.  Make sense?

The WorkFaith Connection is devoted to empowering men and women to find and keep meaningful full-time employment through a faith-based, comprehensive job readiness training and support program.  Chamberlin CEO, John Kafka, serves on the Board of Directors, and the company has hired a number of the program's graduates.  They have proven valuable assets to our team.   Read more » about ROI Redefined

Construction Citizen Weekly Update
Listen to Scott Braddock's highlight of the latest news and information from ConstructionCitizen.com.

Last December we told you about a group of construction workers who volunteered their time, skills, and money to renovate a boys’ home called The Good Shepherd Residential Treatment Center.  The center houses 40 boys at a time who have been removed from their families by Texas courts and are not suitable for regular foster care due to a variety of reasons.  Following that renovation in which over 35 companies participated, the desire to continue to “give back” to deserving organizations in the local community has motivated several leaders in the construction industry to organize and form a new non-profit organization called “Building New Foundations”.  The organization’s mission statement is:

“To effect a positive transformation in the lives of the disadvantaged youth of the greater Houston area.  By utilizing the community’s human, financial and spiritual resources, we commit to altering their present state and their future by focusing on their mental, emotional, corporal, educational and spiritual health and growth, as well as improving their current physical environment.”

The seven board members have now announced that the first annual Building New Foundations Charity Golf Tournament will be held on Monday, November 11, 2013 in Kingwood, TX and will benefit The Good Shepherd RTC.   Read more » about First Annual Building New Foundations Charity Golf Tournament to Benefit Boys’ Home Near Houston

University Calls the Allegations “Concerning”

Students attending classes at the University of Texas at Austin this fall have a chance to “Live Big. Live Better” at some new luxury apartments on campus, but they might be shocked to hear the stories of workers who built those apartments. The website for the 2400 Nueces Apartments, which were completed this summer, proudly says a student can “share your life with an exciting community of friends while enjoying one of Austin's newest first-class highrise communities.” Apartments are available for less than $800 per person. Those prices are made possible through terrible mistreatment of workers, according to workers and their advocates.

Complaints have been filed with both the U.S. Department of Labor as well as the City of Austin, the Workers Defense Project said. Conversations with workers who helped build the apartments reveal they often weren't allowed to stop and get a drink of water even when the temperatures in Austin soared over 100 degrees.   Read more » about Terrible Working Conditions Alleged on UT Student Apartment Construction

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