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Construction is a large and complex worldwide industry constantly shaped by new information technologies, advanced materials, environmental policies, regulations and changing building methods. Most importantly, though, construction is shaped by people. Sustaining a strong industry requires attracting and valuing a skilled, career-driven, high quality workforce... who also like to build! How is the construction industry attracting the skilled workforce for future growth market demands? Do prospective candidates see construction as a viable career choice?

After years of pressing Austin leaders to approve a “living wage” law, workers' rights advocates celebrated the passage of a new set of requirements on companies that get tax breaks for relocating and building in the Texas capital.  The city council late Thursday night voted 6-1 to demand that if a company gets a tax break for its project, it must pay the construction workers who build it at least $11 an hour or a “prevailing wage” if that's higher at the time of the construction.  Of the more than 200 people who signed up to testify on the proposal, only 3 were against it.

“What we’ve done over time is make economic incentives a right, not a privilege,” said Councilman Mike Martinez.  “We need to make it a privilege, not a right,” he said, noting that Texas City already does something similar to what Austin will now do.  He and others pointed out that it would be very difficult to argue that Texas City is somehow hostile to business.   Read more » about Austin Demands Higher Wages on Projects That Get Incentives

Business leaders and educators in Texas are coming together to talk about how they can better cooperate following the passage of sweeping education reforms.  Those reforms, known as House Bill 5, are designed to move the state away from the college-for-all policy and toward a more flexible model where the skilled trades are promoted as real options.  As Construction Citizen readers know, we're passionate about the idea that there is a path to success for just about everyone even if that path doesn't require a four-year degree.

That's why I'm proud to announce Construction Citizen and its publisher are teaming up with the organizers of a summit in Houston on November 5 to spur this important dialogue.  Registration is now open for the Building Careers: Construction Workforce Luncheon which will be held at the George R. Brown Convention Center.   Read more » about Texas Education Reform Means Business Leaders and Educators Must Cooperate

Responsible Business Owners and Working Families Urge Council Support and Action to Bring Wage Theft Down

As Houston city council members shift into campaign mode to convince voters to re-elect them on November 5, thousands of Houstonians are urging them to close unfinished business when it comes to wage theft.  Last week, faith and business industry leaders along with working families and employees of city subcontractors with cases of wage theft all gathered together in front of City Hall with a clear message: pass the Anti-Wage Theft Ordinance now!  Following that show of support for the ordinance, Mayor Annise Parker has since stated that she will put the proposed ordinance on the Full Council Agenda for vote on November 13th.

On October 15, supporters of the ordinance gathered with posters profiling two local families affected by wage theft.  The group heard from speakers including Reverend Ron Lister, Reverend John Griffin, Sister Ceil Roeger, and Joe Marcinkowski.   Read more » about Houstonians Expose Impacts of Wage Theft on Victims and Urge City Council to Act

Hi there.  The Chamberlin Man here.

Company values and good causes are topping the charts of popular corporate initiatives these days.  Guess that makes Chamberlin doubly “en vogue”.  Our longstanding relationship with the Houston nonprofit organization, The WorkFaith Connection, is closely aligned with our company values.

Of course, we aren’t involved to demonstrate how hip we are.  We are involved because it's a cause near and dear to our hearts, with a mission similar to our own.  The ROI (return on investment) has been incredible, although not defined by dollars but by lives changed.  Make sense?

The WorkFaith Connection is devoted to empowering men and women to find and keep meaningful full-time employment through a faith-based, comprehensive job readiness training and support program.  Chamberlin CEO, John Kafka, serves on the Board of Directors, and the company has hired a number of the program's graduates.  They have proven valuable assets to our team.   Read more » about ROI Redefined

One of my clients, an industrial construction company, recently asked me to conduct their annual employment law training.  Here are my observations and lessons learned.

  1. The Nike Rule: Just do it.  Training is often a back-burner project, and if you don't make a priority, it won't get done.  So pick several days, schedule multiple sessions, require all supervisors to attend, and be sure to keep the sign-in sheets.  This is good evidence in a lawsuit or Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charge, and is also good business – your company is only as strong as your first-line supervisors.
  2. The More the Merrier: Be sure those first-line supervisors are included.  I know the working foremen in my sessions didn't think they needed to be there.  

  Read more » about Lessons Learned from Supervisors' Training

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Efforts to crack down on worker misclassification in Texas took a step forward this year with the passage of a targeted crackdown on the practice that some have gone so far as to call “organized crime”.  But, as we've reported, there is much more to do as far as implementation of the law passed by the legislature and signed by Governor Rick Perry.  Many players in commercial construction are hopeful that when the legislature convenes again in 2015, a broader misclassification crackdown like the one pushed this year by Senator John Carona, R-Dallas, can become reality.

Meantime in Arizona, one man in particular has had enough and he's become an aggressive watchdog on what he and others are now calling “illegal labor”.   Read more » about Worker Misclassification in Arizona: “Business Off the Books”

Hi there.  The Chamberlin Man here.

If you've been around the block in business, the concept of “continual improvement processes” (CIP) have most certainly crossed your path.  While the idea of CIP is complex, the bottom line is simple: we can always improve and should strive to do so.

We've long prided ourselves for our excellence in safety at Chamberlin, so with our CIP approach to all facets of our business, we implemented Predictive Solutions' Safety Net technology two years ago.  This has helped us improve the effectiveness of communication surrounding safety audits and our consistency in delivering them.  With clear vision and a good old-fashioned dose of diligence, the Chamberlin team has measured improvements in safety.

I'm telling you, safety is more than talk here at Chamberlin.  Our commitment to safety has been monitored and measured in action.  And it's safety in action for which Chamberlin is known.  Matter of fact, our guys and gals were recognized by Predictive Solutions at their May 2013 “Visions” Conference as “Most Improved” out of an elite group of 150 companies.   Read more » about Chamberlin’s Commitment to Safety Recognized at Predictive Solutions’ Customer Conference