Reshaping the Construction Industry

According to Breitbart, “Despite the February 21 settlement of a bitter labor dispute at West Coast ports between employers and members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), whose members command average wages and benefits of about $1,200 a day, the continuing bottleneck is still causing job and revenue losses across many US industries.” The contract negotiations lasted over 9 months between the ILWU and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA).

Unions are notorious for using slow downs, work stoppages, strikes and picket lines as a negotiating ploys to force” management” to sit down at the negotiating table to either listen to worker’s complaints and/or to respond to a demand for higher wages and “better and safer” working conditions for the workers in that particular union.    Read more » about Strikes and Slow Downs Have Long Tails

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

RUS Industrial recently donated more than $150,000 worth of electrical materials to Construction and Maintenance Education Foundation (CMEF) as a show of support to craft training and electrical education.

According to Vice President Kevin Laird, RUS Industrial chose CMEF for their hefty donation to assist in the development of training programs. This generous donation will expand CMEF’s ability to provide electrical training and certifications.

“The advanced electrical equipment will allow CMEF students access to top-of-the-line training equipment in their craft. With this donation we can begin offering advanced electrical education courses, which is critical in our efforts in training a safe, sustainable workforce,” CMEF Training Manager Blair Williamson said.    Read more » about CMEF receives generous donation of electrical equipment for training program

Sponsors, Educators, Mentors and Supporters of ACE Mentor Houston, which provides guidance and assistance for students interested in careers in the Architecture, Construction and Engineering industry throughout the school year, came together last month to celebrate the program's success and acknowledge mentors and sponsors.  The following was provided by Angela Cotie of Gilbane Building, who serves as ACE Mentor Houston’s Chairman.

Construction, Architecture, and Engineering professionals from the greater Houston area gathered on February 24 to celebrate the charity’s growth and success this school year for the Building Blocks Breakfast.  The ACE Mentor Houston’s annual breakfast was host to over 85 guests – including sponsors, mentors, family, friends, and educators – where the announcement of the “Mentor of the Year,” “Rookie Mentor of the Year” and Winner of the “Carrie Arnold-Gutierrez Leadership Award” as well as a State of ACE announcement and panelist discussion took place.

The winners of the coveted awards are as follows:

Rookie Mentor of the Year: Tarek Ayoubi, Principal at Walter P Moore Associates, Inc.

Mentor of the Year: Joseph Greco at Woodhouse Day Spa

Carrie Arnold-Gutierrez Leadership Award: Carrie Arnold-Gutierrez, formally of the Bechtel Corporation, Houston.   Read more » about ACE Mentor Houston awards their Mentors of the Year!

The team at Software Advice, a construction management software advisory firm, has sent along the results of their 2014 survey of potential buyers of construction software who contacted them for advice during the year. While not a scientific survey, the anecdotal results are revealing.

According to Forrest Burnson at Software Advice, "The most important thing that construction professionals need to realize is that the software they use is a tool; like any other tool, it's better to invest in something that adequately suits the user's needs and is well-made and reliable. I think a lot of construction firm owners experience a degree of sticker shock when they're looking to deploy specialized construction software, and that's understandable—if they're graduating from using QuickBooks or Microsoft Office, then the cost can seem excessive at first. But once they see how that specialized software not only saves them time, but also improves their bids and estimates and keeps them more organized, then it's easier for them to justify the investment. To put it another way: Few construction firms who deploy specialized software solutions ever go back to doing things the old-fashioned way."    Read more » about Construction Software Survey Update

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

Construction employment rises in most states, metros in February; housing starts fall

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.

Click here to register for a free webcast, "Will Construction Pick Up the Pace or the Pieces?" featuring Ken Simonson presented by CMD.

Seasonally adjusted construction employment increased in 43 states and the District of Columbia from January 2014 to January 2015 and decreased in seven states, an AGC analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data released on Tuesday showed. Texas again added the most jobs (49,600 jobs, 7.9%), followed by California (37,800 jobs, 5.7%), Florida (31,800 jobs, 8.3%%), Washington (17,300 jobs, 11.1%) and New York (16,400 jobs, 5.0%). North Dakota (13.4%, 4,300 jobs) again added the highest percentage of construction jobs, followed by Idaho (12.7%, 4,400 jobs), Washington and Colorado (9.8%, 13,500 jobs).    Read more » about AGC's Data DIGest: March 16-20, 2015

The following article originally appeared in the March newsletter to clients of Kiley Advisors, LLC for the purpose of providing the latest leading indicators and industry issues to those clients.  Reprinted with permission.

As Pat Kiley mentioned in his article Interval Training – Is It Good For Construction Companies?, the Houston construction market is entering a slowdown period.  This slowdown is due to the unsustainably high levels of 2014, the lower oil prices, and the lower job and population outlook going forward.  However, Houston IS still growing, albeit at a slower pace.  We are not experiencing a recession, but rather an extended period of slower growth than we have become accustomed to.    Read more » about Houston’s Monthly Metrics: March 2015

New York City has one of the most recognizable skylines in the world. Its record breaking number of towering buildings packed tightly together are like no other major city. While they may no longer be the tallest in the world, their architectural feats have shaped the design and construction of today’s skyscrapers. They are a daily background to the famous hustle and bustle of New York City life. The iconic yellow taxi cabs navigate the city, while world leaders in finance, technology, entertainment, and fashion commute to work. 

Jessica Minh Anh, entrepreneur and model, has highlighted some of the world’s most famous buildings and structures with fashion. Teaming together with some of today’s most haute couture designers, she has used these renowned wonders as a catwalk. In the past, she has soared above the streets of Paris on the Eiffel Tower, promenaded over the London Tower Bridge, and cruised the Costa Atlantica in Dubai. In 2014, she walked the 63rd floor of the new One World Trade Center, also known as the Freedom Tower, in New York City.

Thursday, she returned to the Big Apple with models and designers to walk the Hudson River, using the beautiful New York City skyline as a background.    Read more » about Jessica Minh Anh Turns the Hudson Into a Floating Catwalk with NYC's Iconic Construction Masterpieces as the Backdrop

The USW press release states, “The United Steelworkers (USW) announced today (March 12) that it has reached a tentative agreement on a new four-year contract with Shell Oil as a pattern agreement for the rest of the industry. The agreement accomplishes the major goals as directed by the USW’s oil conference in October of last year, and has been approved by union’s lead negotiators and National Oil Bargaining Policy (NOBP) Committee.

This tentative “national agreement” to end the six week strike action between the union and the energy industry was a response to the expiration of last wage agreement and the break down of talks. The strike was called on Feb 1, 2015 for workers at 15 union plants, including 12 refineries.    Read more » about It’s Not Over Until The Fat Man Signs

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