A Sustainable Workforce Starts With You

Reshaping the Construction Industry

Thomas Bernhardt, the owner of a northern California concrete company and his wife Rachel Bernhardt, who processed the company’s payroll, were charged last week with 15 felony counts of payroll tax evasion and workers' compensation insurance fraud.  T.B. Concrete of Granite Bay, a town about 30 miles east of Sacramento, performed concrete work for retail construction since its inception in 1999.  A joint investigation begun in 2008 by the office of California Attorney General Edmund “Jerry” Brown and the state’s Employment Development Department and the Department of Insurance revealed that the Bernhardts misclassified 111 workers in order to avoid reporting the wages they paid to approximately 85% of the company’s workforce.  Not only did they claim that employees were independent contractors to avoid paying state income tax and incurring a tax liability of over $230,000, but some of the employees who performed concrete work were classified as clerical workers to the Department of Insurance in order to avoid paying the higher workers’ compensation premiums.  
Elizabeth McPherson's picture
December 10, 2010
New content guidelines for San Francisco were passed by the city’s supervisors by a vote of 8-3 Tuesday.  According to the CBS News the new guidelines would require that every city – funded project would have a requirement for participation by city residents.  The initial percentage would be 20% hiring of San Francisco residents and the guidelines would increase 5% each year until the total participation reaches 50%.Mayor Gavin Newsom will have the opportunity to veto the action if he wants to, but he has expressed support for Buy San Francisco moves in the past.  The mayor will review the details closely since there are several billion dollars in construction projects planned for San Francisco in the next decade.  Supporters claim that the 8-3 vote in favor of the legislation will ensure a veto-proof majority.  
Jim Kollaer's picture
December 09, 2010
November 18 was declared a National Day of Action Against Wage Theft, and Interfaith Worker Justice organized events across the country to focus attention on this increasing...
Elizabeth McPherson's picture
December 08, 2010
The New York Assembly did pass the Wage Theft Prevention Act (WTPA) that we wrote about last week.  They have now sent it to the desk of Governor David Paterson for his...
Jim Kollaer's picture
December 06, 2010
Our company has recently begun assessing our workforce using the NCCER’s (National Center for Construction Education and Research) National Craft Assessment and Certification Program (NCACP).  For a number of years, we have had no formal method of verifying of skills and knowledge of our craft professionals.  Despite that, do we have a workforce full of skilled and knowledgeable folks?  We certainly do!So what does the assessment and certification process provide for an employer?  It provides a couple of critical things actually.  By assessing the workforce, construction employers can begin to identify what specific skills and knowledge are currently available in their workforce.  Need 50 highly skilled carpenters?  Want to know how many folks you have that know something about blueprints?  An objective assessment can provide these answers and more.  
Katrina Kersch's picture
December 03, 2010
According to Capitol Confidential, a blog by the (Albany, NY) Times Union, the chances for passage of the Wage Theft Prevention Act to the governor’s desk requires prompt action...
Jim Kollaer's picture
December 01, 2010
According to an article in the Albany Times Union last week, the returning New York legislature is close to passing a state-wide law against wage theft.  If they pass it and...
Jim Kollaer's picture
November 30, 2010
As reported by the Workers Defense Project in a press release last week, the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) held a public meeting on Monday, November 8, 2010.  ...
Elizabeth McPherson's picture
November 18, 2010
The US Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA) and the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) have announced the release of a new Commercial and Industrial Construction Competency Model that provides a set of guidelines that the construction industry can use to help create a better workforce for the future.  The AGC and industry leaders have agreed to keep these guidelines updated as a key source for construction companies and individuals alike to use to create career paths for the industry.In an AGC press release last Friday, Stephen Sandherr, chief executive officer of the Associated General Contractors of America stated “The next generation of construction workers needs the best training programs possible.  Improving these programs will ensure that workers stay at the cutting edge of the construction industry.”
Jim Kollaer's picture
November 17, 2010
This Thursday, November 18 there will be events across the United States to focus attention on the national epidemic of wage theft, as Interfaith Worker Justice has called for a National Day of Action.  The date is one week before Thanksgiving, a time when we often celebrate the things we are thankful for with feasts and fellowship, but workers who have not been paid what they are owed may struggle to provide for their families and may find it hard to celebrate.  Interfaith Worker Justice helps local religious communities work with labor groups throughout the year to fight wage theft which is far too common, especially against low-wage workers.
Elizabeth McPherson's picture
November 16, 2010