A Sustainable Workforce Starts With You

Reshaping the Construction Industry

As much as the construction industry wanted to see 2010 come to an end, we are now faced with 2011 as a year of accelerating change.  Based on the latest figures from...
Jim Kollaer's picture
January 04, 2011
As the year winds down and we prepare to take on 2011, many of us will take a moment or two to reflect on where we are and perhaps even commit to a few changes to propel us closer...
Elizabeth McPherson's picture
December 30, 2010
The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported yesterday:“Eight illegal aliens in a minivan stopped by state police at the turnpike interchange in New Stanton Monday were headed to work on a publicly financed housing project in Jeannette, according to state police and housing officials.”They were traveling in a van with a broken windshield.  When stopped by the police, several ran away.  They were subsequently apprehended and discovered to be in the country illegally.  They were traveling Maryland to Jeannette to work as framers on a $3.2 million public housing project.  The illegal workers were hired by the framing subcontractor, O. C. Cluss Lumber of Uniontown, PA who was supposed to show documentation of the workers’ identifications and addresses to the general contractor,  Steve Catranel Construction of Pittsburgh.  
Jim Kollaer's picture
December 28, 2010
Interfaith Worker Justice declared November 18, 2010 a National Day of Action Against Wage Theft, and helped organize actions in 50 cities across the United States.  Interfaith Worker Justice Executive Director Kim Bobo spoke at the rally and press event held in Washington, D.C.  She talked about the various events occurring that day around the country, including the Justice Bus in Houston which we wrote about earlier.  Other actions included a Jazz Funeral in New Orleans where participants celebrated the death of wage theft, mayoral proclamations in Grand Rapids and Miami, and the announcement of a new partnership between the Denver community and the Department of Labor.  
Elizabeth McPherson's picture
December 27, 2010
Earlier this month, construction workers reached the top of the central core of London’s tallest skyscraper, The Shard.  Originally called the London Bridge Tower due to its location, it was nicknamed The Shard of Glass due to its design which will be topped off with separated spires ending in sharp-looking points at 1017 feet high.  At its conception, it was intended to become the tallest building in Europe, but it will not achieve that title since the Federation Tower in Moscow was completed at 1660 feet in 2009.Designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano, developed by Sellar Property Group, the project’s major financial backers include Qatar Islamic Bank, QInvest, Qatar National Bank and Barwa International.  It is being built by Mace, a London-based international consultancy and construction company.  
Elizabeth McPherson's picture
December 22, 2010
There are many stories in the big city about wage theft from construction laborers, independent contractors and free lancers.  An article on the opinion page of the New York Times does a great job of showing the differences and the possible outcomes from the legal actions being undertaken by three individuals who have suffered from wage theft.  Coming from three entirely different vocations, a construction worker, a computer consultant and a freelance writer all share the common experience of dealing with employers who routinely fail to pay their wages as promised.The article expressed doubt that New York’s newest Wage Theft Prevention law would be of much help to these three particular individuals, but mentions  
Jim Kollaer's picture
December 20, 2010
Reed Construction Data (RCD) chief economist Jim Haughey has given us a glimpse at the next few years of potential construction volume in the top 50 markets around the country.New...
Jim Kollaer's picture
December 16, 2010
According to Buffalo Business First, Governor David Paterson signed the New York Wage Theft Prevention Act into law on December 13.  The passage of this law will make New York employers pay both attention and reasonable wages and taxes on those wages.  Up to now, employers caught breaking the law were only required to pay 25% of back wages, causing some to under-pay employees on the chance that they may not be found out since the penalty if caught was so low.  Now they must pay all wages owed plus a penalty matching the owed-wage amount.Interesting that Governor Paterson thought that the problem needed to be addressed in New York but Governor Schwarzenegger in California vetoed a similar bill when it was presented to him a couple of months ago,
Jim Kollaer's picture
December 15, 2010
A few years ago, architect David Fisher teamed up with the firm Rotating Tower Dubai Development, part of the Dynamic Architecture Group to design a new kind of skyscraper made...
Elizabeth McPherson's picture
December 14, 2010
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