A Sustainable Workforce Starts With You

Reshaping the Construction Industry

The latest employment numbers will be released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) this Friday, October 7 and we are all on “pins and needles” waiting to see what they tell us.  There has been talk around the country that we are either emerging from the economic doldrums or heading into a double dip recession.  It is hard to tell where we are, especially with the politicians spouting their rhetoric in the debates and in the media.  This Friday’s numbers should give us a better indication of where we stand.The latest numbers indicated that 90.9% of us are employed and 9.1% of us are looking for work.  They also indicated that 60,000 new workers applied for unemployment.  The numbers in our industry, according to the latest ENR review (subscription required), are still in the 85-87% employed
Jim Kollaer's picture
October 03, 2011
Previously we interviewed subcontractor and human rights activist Brandon Darby about human trafficking in the U.S. and its impact on the construction industry.  During the interview, Darby stated: “Many people confuse the issue of human trafficking with illegal immigration, but they are not the same.”The office of New Mexico Attorney General Gary King does not assist with immigration status, but does endeavor to help immigrants who are treated unfairly or unlawfully.  In their brochure titled Immigrant Consumer Services, the AG’s office explains: “As immigrants adjust to life in America; enter the workplace; pay taxes; seek education; open bank accounts; and purchase goods and services, they often fall prey to consumer abuses that thrive in the low-income communities in which many immigrants live.”  
Elizabeth McPherson's picture
September 30, 2011
Construction may have slowed in the city during the recession, but one creative group has found a use for the heavy equipment.  Dig This! is an “adult sized sandbox” where for a hefty fee and with ten minutes training, you can jump into the seat of a backhoe and move rocks or dig in the sand.  What a thrill to actually drive the equipment that you played with as Tonka Toys when you were a kid.According to an Associated Press article, owner Ed Mumm started the company “after renting and operating an excavator for himself for two days while building a house in Steamboat Springs, Colo.  He quickly realized that toying with heavy construction equipment is a diversion that takes participants completely out
Jim Kollaer's picture
September 29, 2011
Last week, Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis and IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman signed a “memorandum of understanding” between the US Department of Labor and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).  The agreement is part of a continued effort to put and end to the practice by unethical employers of misclassifying their employees as independent contractors in order to avoid paying workers’ compensation insurance fees, overtime pay, federal payroll taxes and unemployment insurance for those workers.Representatives of state labor agencies from Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota,
Elizabeth McPherson's picture
September 27, 2011
Two weeks ago, 2000 high school students participated in the Dallas ISD Districtwide College Fair, an event which included information to prepare students for college as well as information to prepare interested students in workforce careers.  The Career Education and Workforce Partnerships division of the Dallas Independent School District sponsored various “career clusters”, providing information about various careers available for students to pursue.  The Dallas division of Marek Brothers Systems represented the Architecture & Construction industry and sponsored a booth for that cluster.  Two of their former workforce development trainees who are now supervisors in the company shared the benefits of the Marek workforce development program to the participants.  Harold Curry, Safety Manager for Marek Brothers in Dallas, provided photos taken at the event for this blog post.
Elizabeth McPherson's picture
September 26, 2011
This saying was hanging in the bathroom of the facility where we were working at a recent planning session for a contractor’s leadership team.AttitudeThe longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life.  Attitude to me is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people say or do.  It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill.  It will make or break a company…
Jim Kollaer's picture
September 22, 2011
According to an article in Constructech, you take a look at the new cloud that Microsoft has built.  “Whenever a big company like Microsoft or Google enters the picture, people tend to mark its arrival as ‘legitimizing’ the situation.”  The arrival of Microsoft 365 this summer has begun to hit the construction industry as contractors begin to use it and the other Microsoft software like Excel to track their projects.  “Microsoft Office 365 brings together Microsoft Office, SharePoint Online, Exchange Online, and Lync Online, delivered via a cloud service.”
Jim Kollaer's picture
September 20, 2011
I grew up in the Bob Dylan era, and his songs are still relevant today.  In the late 60s when he was first popular, we were in an unpopular war, there was developing uncertainty in the economy and we all knew that change was in the air, whether on the jobsite, on the streets of Chicago or in the Deep South.Well, here we are again and those Dylan lyrics are ringing in my ears.  Now I know many of you who visit our site have no idea what I am talking about, but that is okay.  Suffice it to say that it was tough (or so we thought at the time), the issues were complex and the future of the construction industry was shaky.Spin it however you want, we are again in a time of massive change in our industry and those of us who are not ready to meet the future “head on” are about to get slapped in the forehead with a large dose of reality.  I don’t have to tell you that there are not enough jobs, projects or prospects; that the low-bid, no bid, lean and mean process that we live in every day right now is painful; but I did anyway.  
Jim Kollaer's picture
September 19, 2011
The following is excerpted from a letter written by Stan Marek, CEO of the Marek Family of Companies in Houston, in response to the Wall Street Journal article “U.S. Hits Builders With Pay Probe” mentioned in one of our last entries about the government’s audit of home builders regarding their pay practices.  It is an issue that is growing more critical as the economy continues to stutter and the recovery remains sluggish.  This letter gives a first hand view of the issue in Texas and asks for a solution that is responsible, sensible and one that will lead to a sustainable construction workforce for the future.Here in Texas, we have the nation’s highest number of “undocumented” working in the construction industry
Construction Citizen's picture
September 15, 2011
According to press releases from the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida in recent weeks, two separate contractors have each been convicted of issuing corporate checks to fictitious companies, cashing those checks at local check cashing stores, and then using the cash to pay their workers “off the books” without collecting and reporting employment taxes and without paying the workers overtime pay.Richard Rosaire Routhier owned and operated Drymension Inc in Lake Worth, Florida, offering commercial and residential drywall installation.  Over a period of 6 years, Routhier issued corporate checks to several shell companies which were created as a way to avoid paying taxes and which did not actually perform any work for Drymension.  He then used the cash to pay his employees without withholding employment taxes
Elizabeth McPherson's picture
September 14, 2011