A Sustainable Workforce Starts With You

Reshaping the Construction Industry

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the construction industry lost 22,000 jobs during the month of June.  Some might assume this means that recruiting an adequate workforce is no longer a burning issue, but we know that despite the current conditions, there will be a shortage of construction workers by 2018 especially in the mid-level jobs.  My company recently completed the team building exercise of describing our ideal workforce for 2015.  It turns out that we have some work to do.  We are a commercial subcontractor and live and die by the talents and efforts of our supervisors, foremen, lead men, and journeymen.  In our exercise, we described each job title and how they would demonstrate leadership in every area of focus: productivity, safety, quality, company culture, and workforce development (training and developing future talent).  
Katrina Kersch's picture
July 07, 2010
On Friday Houston television station KTRX aired an interview with a building contractor in Houston, Drew Evans, who feels that his decision not to hire illegal immigrants costs him jobs which end up going to contractors who underpay their workers and can therefore submit lower bids for projects.    Mr. Evans is frustrated with the government for not enforcing the law and with other contractors who refuse to run their businesses responsibly.  He says that many Americans in service industries are similarly losing out.
Elizabeth McPherson's picture
July 04, 2010
We recently attended the annual update meeting staged by Kiley Advisors in Houston.  One of the most interesting sessions had three speakers who discussed the plusses of Lean Construction and the legal changes underway as this process is integrated into the industry.  Interestingly I found a very good description of the overall process in Wikipedia.Basically the Lean Construction Management System is an adaptation of the Lean Production System utilized by Toyota in its production plants.
Jim Kollaer's picture
July 03, 2010
Last year a survey of over 4,000 low-wage workers in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles was released in the report, Broken Laws, Unprotected Workers: Violations of Employment and Labor Laws in America’s Cities.  The work was completed by three groups – The Center for Urban Economic Development at the University of Illinois, The National Employment Law Project, and the UCLA Institute for Research on Labor and Employment.The purpose of the study was to take a look at the status of labor violations among the low-wage workers in those three cities.
Jim Kollaer's picture
June 29, 2010
Mike Salsgiver, executive director of the Oregon-Columbia chapter of the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), recently wrote an interesting article about the state of...
Jim Kollaer's picture
June 28, 2010
"The number of independent contractors in the total employed workforce grew from 6.7 percent in 1995 to 7.4 percent in 2005.  In 2005, there were 10.3 million independent contractors.  Independent contractors, in 2005, had an average age of 46 years, were almost twice as likely to be male than female, and almost two-thirds had some college or higher education.  Independent contractors were employed in a wide range of industries (such as professional services and construction) and occupations (including sales and management)."That is the opening paragraph from the United States Government Accountability Office (GAO)’s study on independent contractor misclassification in the construction industry (GAO-07-859T) released on May 8, 2010 in a hearing before the
Jim Kollaer's picture
June 25, 2010
“Passing legislation that aims to crack down on ‘worker misclassification’ is an issue of fairness,” said Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) about his Employee Misclassification Prevention Act at a Senate Hearing entitled, Leveling the Playing Field: Protecting Workers and Businesses Affected by Misclassification. Brown originally introduced his bill, The Employee Misclassification Prevention Act, in the Senate last April.  It is the latest in a number of legislative actions directed at the problem that is especially rampant in the construction industry across the US.  Many contractors and subs are using hourly workers and day laborers, some of them undocumented aliens, and classifying their workers as independent contractors in order to cut costs, avoid paying medical benefits, social security and overtime as part of the cash society in the industry.
Jim Kollaer's picture
June 22, 2010
We found a chart that you might be interested in on a site called Calculated Risk that charts the percentage of job losses for previous and current recessions.  It is set up to align at the point of maximum job losses during each recession and it shows that we are on the upswing if you consider the census bureau hires, but are looking at a dip if you discount them.  This chart is interesting in that it shows that we are in a very slow recovery.
Jim Kollaer's picture
June 19, 2010
In an earlier posting, we noted that the President had signed Executive Order No. 13502 requiring that Federal projects over $25 million have a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) with...
Jim Kollaer's picture
June 16, 2010
The blue van pulled up to the curb in front of the trauma center in one of the largest medical centers in the county.  The side doors slid open and a man in workers’ clothes...
Jim Kollaer's picture
June 11, 2010