A Sustainable Workforce Starts With You

Reshaping the Construction Industry

Kim Bobo, founder and executive director of Interfaith Worker Justice, talked with Construction Citizen blogger Jim Kollaer during her recent visit to Houston.  Kollaer asked her about the upcoming second edition of her book Wage Theft in America: Why Millions of Working Americans are Not Getting Paid – and What We Can Do About It.  The new addition will include a chapter about ethical businesses to demonstrate that even in industries like construction where everyone is struggling to survive the current economic downturn, there are still ethical employers who are doing the right thing.  There is a new chapter about payroll fraud (also called worker misclassification and workplace fraud) which is the illegal practice where employers pay their workers as independent contractors instead of as employees.  Two new chapters focus on state and local efforts to enforce wage theft laws and penalize violators.  
June 01, 2011
The office of Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley has announced that construction company Lancaster Enterprises Inc, owned by Marie Raftes, must pay over $100,000 in restitution and penalties for payroll fraud and wage theft against employees.  Raftes and Lancaster Enterprises are charged with failing to pay $37,000 of earned wages to 10 employees who worked at two public construction sites, for willfully failing to pay the prevailing wage, for failure to submit truthful payroll records to authorities, and for misclassifying employees as independent contractors.  In a press release from the attorney general’s office, Coakley states:“At a time when many people are struggling financially, it is crucial that workers receive
May 31, 2011
On May 5, 1868, JOHN A. LOGAN, Commander-in-Chief of the Army in his General Orders no.11, Washington, D.C., called for the first Memorial Day to recall and remember all those soldiers who had died and were buried in “almost every city and state” during the Civil War.The tradition that started in May of 1868 continues today. I wanted to pay homage to all of the builders, private contractors, SEABEES (Construction Batallions), and members of the US Army Corps of Engineers who fought for and built the roads, ports,
May 29, 2011
According to the latest industry figures from the Associated General Contractors Association (AGC):“The construction industry added 5,000 jobs in April while the industry’s unemployment rate declined slightly to 17.8 percent, nearly twice the national average, according to an analysis of new federal employment data released [earlier this month] by the Associated General Contractors of America.  Association officials said the figures continue a year-long trend of little change in construction employment after years of steep declines and predicted the stagnation is unlikely to change soon.”In a press release from the AGC, their chief economist, Ken Simonson, states:“The construction industry may have stopped bleeding jobs, but there is no sign that employment
May 27, 2011
2011 has begun with more optimism, for sure.  It is supported by some encouraging facts and activities involving Houston’s energy companies, the real estate community, architects and engineers, even lenders.  However, as it relates to actual non-residential contract awards the facts are still sobering; the market is still significantly depressed.  Data from McGraw Hill suggests that 2011 will be only slightly better for non-residential construction than 2010, well behind 2009, and light years behind the pre-recession 2008 numbers.  While we expect the market to improve over the coming months, it will be gradual, and may not be truly discernible until the 4th quarter of this year.So what gives reason for optimism?There are several “front end conditions” that are significantly better than a year ago.  If they continue, they will promote new commercial construction projects over time.  Specifically, the overall Houston economy is better, thanks mainly to the health of the energy companies.
May 26, 2011
In the Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) process, one core idea is that there is shared risk and responsibility for the delivery of the project.  This has made it difficult on the companies who insure these project teams as the normal approach is that each player on the project has their own liability insurance.  That approach is based on the suspicion by team members that one of their partners might be intentionally negligent leading to a loss of life or shoddy construction.According to Green Source Magazine, “The $385 million Owensboro Medical Health Center project in Owensboro, Kentucky, is using IPD and has a single-project insurance policy that covers the entire team, in addition to the
May 24, 2011
Editor's note: Since this article was originally published, HoustonWorks has gone out of business. The new YouthBuild grant is operated by SER-Jobs for Progress.Last month YouthBuild Houston and HoustonWorks teamed up with Houston Habitat for Humanity to participate in the Hands on Housing Block Party where volunteers worked to replace a broken garage and perform other home repairs, remove debris and plant flowers for an elderly resident in Jacinto City, Texas.  In honor of Earth Day, the materials used were donated recycled materials.  
May 23, 2011
Construction Citizen blogger Jim Kollaer recently met up with Cristina Tzintzún, the executive director of Austin’s Workers Defense Project (WDP).  For the past 8 years she...
May 19, 2011
Satterfield & Pontikes Construction, Inc. (S&P) announced last week that they took third-place honors in the website category at the Society for Marketing Professional...
May 19, 2011
In a recent article in the Reno Gazette-Journal’s online newspaper (RGJ.com), Siobhan McAndrew writes about the design shift in recent years of retail shopping centers.  The current trend is to build “lifestyle centers” which arrange retail stores, restaurants, movie cinemas and even hotels and apartments in outdoor park-like settings with fountains, landscaping, walkways and sculptures.  Some host weekend farmers’ markets or outdoor concerts.  McAndrew writes:“Alamo Quarry Marketplace in San Antonio, Texas: Opened in 1997 the 585,000-square-foot center has eight restaurants and a 16-screen cinema. Located on the site of closed cement plant, the original smokestacks are still at the center. Developed by Trammell Crow, a commercial real estate firm.”This is one of 10 examples of these centers the article lists.  It includes details such as
May 17, 2011