Reshaping the Construction Industry

Editor’s note: On Tuesday, the Texas House will consider what more needs to be done on the issue of worker misclassification. 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

Editor’s note:  The following was written by Saied Alavi, Division Operations Manager at Marek Brothers in Houston.

In my business today, as in the great building traditions of the past, skilled well-trained crafts people are our most important and valuable asset.  From the hundreds who make up our field employees to the estimating and administrative teams who support them, from the youngest trainee and intern to the most senior supervisor – each one is critical to the delivery of our craft at Marek.

On any day, you can pick up the phone and order a hundred new screw guns or chop saws and receive delivery in a day or two.  You can place an order for truckloads of gypsum board or metal studs and receive delivery in a few days.  However, if you need ten experienced drywall or acoustical ceiling mechanics, there is no guarantee that you can find them in a week or even a month.  And finding skilled workers is becoming more of a daily problem as the economy recovers and construction expands again.   Read more » about Investing in an Educated Workforce: A Winning Combination

Now that the Texas Legislature is taking a hard look at the way education reforms are being implemented across the state, I thought now would be a good time to reflect on my recent experience traveling to Austin to talk with the State Board of Education about this important issue.  As you might have heard, lawmakers passed a reform bill last year that created more flexibility for students who are trying to get a high school diploma in Texas.  Those of us in the trades, like construction, have been very supportive of this for two main reasons: we want to see as many young people succeed as possible, and we feel there’s a career for many of them in our industries.

When I went to Austin to give public testimony on behalf of our education partner, NCCER, I understood that my goal was to provide an employer’s perspective of the relevance and rigor we find within the NCCER curricula and why we think utilizing industry standard curricula would give high school students an advantage in the work place.   Read more » about Give Education Reform in Texas a Chance to Work

PPIs remain mild; most metros add jobs; ABI ably predicts building activity, AIA finds

Editor’s note:  Construction Citizen is proud to partner with AGC America to bring you AGC Chief Economist Ken Simonson's Data DIGest. Check back each week to get Ken's expert analysis of what's happening in our industry.

Sign up for a complimentary webinar on construction outlook on April 17 with me; AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker; and Reed Construction Data’s Chief U.S. Economist, Bernard Markstein.

The producer price index (PPI) for final demand increased 0.7%, not seasonally adjusted (0.5%, seasonally adjusted), in March and 1.4% over 12 months, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported Friday.   Read more » about AGC's Data DIGest: April 7 – 11, 2014

A Texas House Committee has scheduled a hearing on the issue of worker misclassification and what more the state may need to do to combat the problem that is particularly rampant in the construction industry.  The House Business and Industry Committee will take testimony on the implementation of a limited crackdown that was signed into law by Governor Rick Perry last year.  The hearing is slated for Tuesday, April 22 at the state capitol.

The official announcement of the public hearing says that the panel of lawmakers will be looking into “the issue of misclassifying employees as independent contractors on workers, employers, income tax withholding, and the unemployment insurance system.  And the review of current statutory deterrents, including those required by HB 2015.”  That bill just took effect on the first of this year.

As our readers are well aware, the practice of employee misclassification happens when companies pretend their workers are independent subcontractors when, by law, those workers should be properly classified as employees.   Read more » about Misclassification Hearing is Set in the Texas House

Software Advice has released the results of their 2014 buyer review for construction software.  An article written by Janna Finch, Managing Editor of Software Advice, points out some interesting results.

  • Seventy-eight percent (78%) of buyers (in the Construction industry) have no deployment preference, whereas most buyers in other industries tend to prefer cloud-based systems.
     
  • The most frequently cited reason for buying new (construction) software is increased efficiency or productivity, with 28 percent of the sample saying they hoped to achieve this benefit.

  Read more » about Construction Software Usage Growing

E'hem.  Excuse me for just a moment, but I have to toot the horn of my good friends at Chamberlin.  These folks sure are making me proud!

In just the last few months, the Chamberlin team has been showered with kudos and awards from the likes of ABC, AGC, ASA, IREM and NRCA.  We have been honored for National Excellence in Construction, National Safety Excellence and Construction Safety Excellence.  Members of the Chamberlin team have been recognized for zero lost work days and named MVP by the Roofing Industry Alliance for Progress.  We've been honored for supporting the community at large and for being a player in our industry circle.   Read more » about Bursting with Pride

Construction posts gains in March jobs, February spending; costs accelerate, RLB says

Editor’s note:  Construction Citizen is proud to partner with AGC America to bring you AGC Chief Economist Ken Simonson's Data DIGest. Check back each week to get Ken's expert analysis of what's happening in our industry.

Nonfarm payroll employment increased by 192,000, seasonally adjusted, in March and 2,246,000 (1.7%) over 12 months, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported Friday. Construction employment rose by 19,000 for the month and 151,000 (2.6%) over the year to 5,964,000, the highest total since June 2009. Residential construction employment (residential building and specialty trade contractors) climbed by 9,100 for the month and 103,000 (4.8%) for the year. Nonresidential employment (building, specialty trades, and heavy and civil engineering construction) rose by 9,900 from February and 48,800 (1.3%) year-over-year.   Read more » about AGC's Data DIGest: March 31 – April 4, 2014

If so, here is an opportunity for you to hear the outlook from some of the leading economists in the industry.  Reed Construction Data is presenting an online conference that features one of our Construction Citizen authors, Ken Simonson, the chief economist for the AGC.

On Thursday, April 17, from 2:00 - 3:30 p.m. EDT, Ken will join Kermit Baker of the AIA and Bernard Markstein of Reed Construction Data for their semiannual insight into the outlook for 2014 construction.  At the end of the presentation, the economists will answer questions from the audience.   Read more » about Wondering About the Outlook for 2014 Construction?

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]

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