A Sustainable Workforce Starts With You

Austin Community College Taps the Brakes on New Rules for Construction

Following concerns raised here on Construction Citizen by contractors in Austin, the Austin Community College Board of Trustees has decided to create a task force to hammer out new rules for construction under a proposed $386 million bond.

The ACC board was planning to move ahead with the new rules when Associated General Contractors Austin President Phil Thoden wrote on Construction Citizen that it appeared the proposal was being rammed through:

"...the resolution appears to have been crafted without input from a broad range of the local construction community.  This is especially puzzling when you consider that the owner in this case has the word “community” as part its official name.  To be fair, ACC Trustees have a priority focus on local education, not construction, issues.  But for that specific reason, it is critically important that the board hear from the construction community as a whole and not simply one facet of the industry before making a decision that greatly impacts local contractors.  The Austin AGC, comprised of 250 Austin-area construction company members, only learned of this resolution's specifics when published the week of September 29 as an item for the upcoming Trustees' meeting.”

The Workers Defense Project in Austin had been consulted on the new rules.  In fact, the workers’ rights advocates were going to have full access to the bond-funded construction sites to interview workers.

“We want to make sure that construction workers who work really hard to build our community college earn good wages to provide for themselves and their families and that they'll be able to go home safe at the end of each workday,” Cristina Tzintzún, Executive Director for the Workers Defense Project, was quoted on Time Warner Cable News in Austin.

Thoden took exception to that piece of the new rules.  “ACC has a facilities and operations staff like any owner.  They are enforcing all aspects of the contract in regard to wages, pay, and safety conditions etc,” Thoden said.  “If there's an outside third group that has an interest in talking to workers, they have every right to do so off the jobsite.  Why they need to be given full access on the jobsite, we don't support and frankly we're puzzled as to why it was included.”

To try to reconcile the concerns of the various groups, the ACC board decided to create a task force including AGC Austin, Workers Defense Project, the college, and other building trade councils.

That task force will report back its recommendations to the ACC Board in late January.  If this nearly $400 million bond is approved by voters, construction projects will be put out to bid next year.

Add new comment