A Sustainable Workforce Starts With You

Reshaping the Construction Industry

We have written about the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, the tallest building in the world, at 828 meters high.  The newest skyscrapers in progress in the current construction cycle of tall buildings, while not as tall as the Burj, are still substantial and will change the skylines of the cities where they are being built.There are some interesting buildings going up, but few of them in the United States.  It seems that the Middle East and Asia are currently vying to create new, different and taller buildings.  Ever since the earliest discussions of Frank Lloyd Wright who projected multiuse buildings a mile into the sky, designers have been speculating on how to build their designs.  Only recently have the engineering, financing and especially the construction techniques caught up with the designer’s visions.  Shanghai Tower, currently under construction in Shanghai, though not as tall as the Burj, is still about half of the height that Wright proposed in the mid 1900s.We like the SkyscraperPage.com website which provides users with the ability to click through for more information about the buildings such as designer and engineer so that we can stay in touch as these buildings stretch even higher into the sky.  We would suggest to the folks who add to the database that they include the contractors who lead the construction on each of them.  
June 27, 2011
Owners, developers and contractors have a new critical issue to add to their list of concerns about the hiring of illegal labor on their projects – human trafficking victims.We...
June 23, 2011
A recent decision following an investigation by the New Orleans District Office Wage and Hour Division of the US Department of Labor tied a Louisiana general contractor to the employment of drywall installers hired by a subcontractor for work on several residential and commercial projects.  The workers were misclassified as independent contractors and denied overtime wages for the time they worked each week over 40 hours.  The subcontractor, Escapade Acoustic Drywall from Lafayette, and the general contractor, Lloyd N. Moreau LLC of Pineville were found to have a joint employment relationship and are both being held responsible for the workers’ back wages.A press release from the US Department of Labor earlier this month explains the problem with the growing practice of worker misclassification / payroll fraud.“The practice is a serious threat both to workers entitled to good, safe jobs, and employers who obey the law. Too often workers are deprived of overtime and minimum wages, and forced to pay taxes that their employers are legally obligated to pay. Honest employers have a difficult time competing against scofflaws.”  
June 21, 2011
Houston business owner Lowell Daniel offers contracting services in landscaping, irrigation, and drainage.  He has heard horror stories from some of the workers he has employed about the mistreatment and wage theft that they have suffered from other contractors while trying to earn a living for themselves and for their families.Disturbed by the injustice some of these workers had faced, Mr. Daniel attempted to “call out” some of the dishonest contractors by informing the customers who had hired them that those contractors had not paid the workers who actually performed the work for the customers.  Daniel explained that the workers had agreed to do the grueling work for a lower fee than many workers would require, and that they were not even paid that lower amount.  Another instance he was told about was a case where some of the workers had been taken from Houston to a farm in Louisiana in order to harvest sweet potatoes.  Not only were the workers treated abominably throughout the harvest, when they were brought back to Houston, they were abandoned beside the highway without their full promised wages and left with no option but to walk the rest of the way home.  
June 20, 2011
Charter Builders in Dallas, a Balfour Beatty company, is the general contractor on the largest “Net Zero” school in the nation, located in Irving, Texas near Dallas.  Net Zero means that the facility, when completed in August, will generate sufficient power through its design and from its passive energy systems for the school to operate without using the grid.Engineering News-Record (ENR) quotes Aaron Scates, vice president of operations for Charter Builders, the Dallas-based unit of Balfour Beatty Construction that is building Lady Bird.  Scates believes that net-zero schools will become more common in the future.  He stated:“Buildings like this will play to being more frugal and economically stable.  On a middle school, electric bills can range from $20,000 to $40,000 a month.  A building that doesn’t have an electric bill creates more money for other opportunities.”  
June 16, 2011
Tompkins County Workers’ Center in Ithaca, New York offers a Living Wage Employer Certification for businesses who wish to publically commit to certain criteria regarding the treatment and compensation of their employees.  The employers agree to pay at least $11.67 per hour (or the current Tompkins County Living Wage rate) to all regular employees, offer them partially paid health insurance, and be free of health and safety violations.The Workers’ Center website points out that the benefit to employers goes beyond just knowing that they are “doing the right thing”.  The website affirms:“By paying your employees fairly, you take advantage of the service/profit cycle. When you invest in staff rewards, both tangible and intangible, their satisfaction
June 15, 2011
Daniel W. Rasmus, blogger for the online magazine Fast Company, is focused on the uncertainties that companies will face.  Our companies.  Our industry.  Our uncertainties.Issues like wellness, generational change and conflict, technology, leadership, skills gaps and worker shortages will plague those companies who do not take the initiative today to create action and contingency plans to address each of the issues before they demand an immediate solution.About the possibility of a skilled worker / talent shortage, Rasmus writes:“If nationalistic tendencies prevail, then the outcomes of individual education systems, public and private, and training programs provided by firms and immigration policy will combine to determine the available talent pools. 
June 13, 2011
In a previous post on Construction Citizen titled Strategic Realities, Pat Kiley wrote:"In light of these conditions, the prudent path for senior executives is to:Maintain a focus on costsStay close to your talentInvest in Business Development and MarketingBe a Learning Organization" Professor Eve Mitleton-Kelly of the London School of Economics describes a learning organization as “one that is able to change its behavior and mind-sets as a result of experience.”  
June 09, 2011
On May 27th, Governor Rick Perry signed into law a groundbreaking measure that will expand the ability of local law enforcement agencies to arrest employers who cheat their workers out of their pay.  Texas SB 1024, the “Wage Theft Bill”, which was sponsored by Senator José Rodriguez (D-El Paso) and Representative Eddie Rodriguez (D- Austin), creates a powerful mechanism for workers to recover their unpaid wages.Wage theft is a widespread problem that occurs when employers fail to pay their employees for their work.  In certain industries like construction, wage theft occurs in epidemic proportions.  According to the University of Texas study Building Austin, Building Injustice: Working Conditions in the Texas Construction Industry, one in every five Austin construction workers
June 09, 2011
Mike Rowe, star of the Discovery Channel’s Dirty Jobs, testified before the US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation on May 5.  He testified about the...
June 08, 2011