Posts in Uncategorized

Los Angeles Construction Boom Offers Opportunities and Challenges for Construction Workers

November 11th, 2019 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet

Downtown Los Angeles is experiencing an explosive growth in construction of retail, commercial, office space and residential projects.

Residential development experienced a growth of almost 3,300 homes completed in 2018, with 7000 more under construction and plans for 35,000 additional units. A massive three million square feet of office space under construction during 2018 combined with over 9,000 new hotel rooms and more than three million square feet of office space. Equivalent growth in retail space adds to the boom.

At the end of 2018, there were almost 3 million square feet of office space under construction in downtown Los Angeles, according to the Downtown Center Business Improvement District’s Q4 2018 Market Report , along with 1.1 million square feet of retail and 1,271 hotel rooms. These numbers pale in comparison to proposed projects, which would add almost 9,500 more hotel rooms, 2.6 million square feet of additional retail and another 3.3 million square feet of office space.

The boom in each of these sectors has accelerated the demand for construction workers in all trades. This might reasonably be expected to result in higher wages and benefits for workers in such high demand. However, a report as of September 22, 2019 shows that the average construction worker in Los Angeles is paid $17.19 per hour. The bottom 10% are paid $12.60 and the top 10% $25.80. With bonuses, the average annual salary ranges from 23,957 – $72,400 with an overall average of about $35,000 before taxes. The average salary of all workers in Los Angeles is $56,000 per year AFTER taxes.

Construction workers fare no better in benefits provided by their employers. A whopping 62% of construction workers report that their employers offer no benefits. 38% of workers receive medical coverage, 15% are covered by dental and vision benefits. Many, if not most, are not offered retirement plans.

Los Angeles ranks in the top 50 most expensive cities to live in in the United States. A one bedroom apartment rents for between $1,700 and $2,200 per month (after tax dollars) and a 3 bedroom apartment runs over $3,900/month. Childcare for preschool costs over $1,000/month. If the worker is in the 62% who receive no benefits, then medical insurance is yet another large cost. Even these basic costs demonstrate that construction salaries fail to yield a livable wage for its workers.

As salaries and benefits fail to keep pace , the construction trades have become less attractive, and employers report difficulty finding trained workers. The solution to the construction crisis in California will be hamstrung until conditions to make construction trades more attractive are established and workers paid a living wage, with adequate benefits, training and retirement.

Labor Law Protections for California Construction Workers

October 15th, 2019 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet

With the dramatic reduction in the number of California construction workers representation by unions, employers have pushed the boundaries of the law in compensating workers. Many workers are unaware of the protections offered by the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act, and others, while aware, recognize that to complain is to invite termination. With the increase in the participation in the construction industry by immigrants, many are hesitant to come forward over concerns of immigration status. Failing to record all hours actually worked including working before or after the shift occurs.

  • Shorting hours by using terms such as down time or rain delay
  • Not compensating construction workers for mandatory labor law breaks where the employee is not completely relieved of all duties to enjoy uninterrupted time for the meal
  • Banking of overtime hours or payment of overtime in the form of “comp time”
  • Failing to combine hours worked for overtime purposes by an employee in more than one job classification for the same employer within the same workweek
  • Failing to segregate and pay overtime hours on a workweek basis when employees are paid on a bi-weekly or semi-monthly basis
  • Failing to pay for travel time from shop to work-site and back

The first step for construction workers is to know what benefits and protections are provided by the Fair Labor Standards Act, and other legal standards in California. The State of California Department of Industrial Relations provides detailed information as to employer’s responsibilities and workers rights in the state. The Bureau of Field Enforcement is charged with investigating complaints. BOFE is responsible for the investigation and enforcement of statutes covering workers’ compensation insurance coverage, child labor, and cash pay.

All workers in California are protected by labor laws. No one filing a complaint will be questioned as to immigration status or report any status to other government agencies. There is no need for a social security number or a photo identification to report a labor law violation.

Perhaps most importantly, The Retaliation Complaint Unit investigates allegations of retaliation against workers for filing complaints concerning termination, suspension, transfer or demotion, reduction in pay or hours, disciplinary actions or threats, and unfair immigration-related practices.

As the construction industry moves to meet the increasing workload of resolving the state’s housing crisis, it is imperative that those doing the actual work of construction have their rights and benefits assured.

California Construction Workers Find Protections in New Law

September 15th, 2019 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet

For many decades the workers in the United States have been protected by the Fair Labor Standards Act which provided wage, hour and benefit protections for employees.  However, it failed to regulate the compensation and benefits for independent contractors.  Over the years more and more employers simply treated many of their workers as “independent contractors” and were thus able to deny workers the protections afforded by labor law.

All that changed when in California in 2018 the California Supreme Court created a new test to establish the conditions when make a worker and “employee” rather than an “independent contractor.”  As of January 1, 2020 these changes become law and have profound effect for construction workers throughout California.

Under the new law the definition on an employee is controlled by what is called an “ABC Test.”  The new law assumes all workers are employees and entitled to full benefits unless the employer can demonstrate all of three conditions:  

  • First the employer must prove that the worker is free from “control and direction” of the employer in carrying out their work.  
  • Second, the employer must demonstrate that the work being done by the employee is outside the normal functions of the employer’s business
  • Third, the employer must present evidence that the worker is “customarily engage” in a business of the same types as the work done on the job.

Under the new law workers will have the full protection of California labor law for workers’ compensation, unemployment insurance, and social security taxes, and for some employees a host of wage-related issues, including overtime, meal and rest periods.  Additionally, the new law strengthens the penalties for wage-hour violations by employers.  

CREED LA celebrates these improvements in the recognition of the value of a highly trained and professionalized work force with respect for fair wages, training and benefits. 

Los Angeles Construction Jobs Lagging Behind

August 15th, 2019 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet

Salary

There are lots of rosy statistics which claim that construction workers in California are among the highest paid in the United States. This claim is at best misleading and masks a seismic shift in the compensation for construction workers nationally and in California in particular. In 1973 the national hourly average wage for construction workers was $31.84 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. As of 2016 the rate had fallen to $25.97 adjusted for inflation.

Benefits and Working Conditions

As contractors seek to cut costs there have been reductions in pay and an increase in corners cut. The California Department of Industrial Relations Through the Labor Enforcement Task Force (LETF) enforces labor laws. In 2018 it fined contractors over two million dollars for violations. A LETF report lists frequent problems with contractors for:

  1. Not having a contractor’s license, or hiring unlicensed subcontractors
  2. Misclassifying employees as independent contractors.
  3. Not paying workers the wages they are owed
  4. Not allowing rest or meal breaks
  5. Paying a piece rate or other nonhourly rate that does not meet minimum-wage
  6. Not giving pay stubs or not paying payroll tax.
  7. Not providing the equipment, tools or protective clothing that workers need
  8. Lacking a proper safety plan
  9. Poor records of training.
  10. Not having a first-aid kit.
  11. Not having workers’ compensation insurance or not insuring all employees.

The housing crisis in California has brought attention to the need to attract and retain construction works as part of any solution. There is hope on the horizon for improving pay, training, health care and retirement benefits for construction workers. Stay tuned for updates!

Environmental Ideas for Kids

May 28th, 2019 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet

With a large focus on renewable resources, minimizing the carbon footprint and other environmental concerns, we thought it would be interesting to explore ideas that children can research or do projects on. You are never too young to engage in learning to help the planet.

Some project ideas for kids to have fun and learn more about important environmental components:

  • Energy Conservation – kids can learn about energy, why it needs to be conserved and research ways they can conserve more energy.
  • Organic Garden – create your own organic garden with compost.
  • Soil quality – Soil needs certain elements to sustain plant growth. Kids can determine the quality of the soil in their yard.
  • Greenhouse effect – kids can explore how a greenhouse works, with a simple Greenhouse in a jar experiment.
  • Air Quality – learn a simple test to check the air quality around your home.
  • Habitat Model – study how animals and plants adapt. This project is especially beneficial to help kids learn the impact of changes to the environment and to see how plants and animal adapt or how they die off, if they are unable to adapt.
  • Recycling – help kids understand the importance of recycling and let them discover ways to reuse and repurpose items as part of a recycling initiative.
  • Water Purification – kids can learn how to make a water filter from sand.
  • Rainwater Harvesting – kids can learn the importance and value of rainwater harvesting and then implement their own system at school or at home.
  • Pollution – have kids research the causes of pollution and then have them brainstorm solutions to cut pollution.
  • Renewable Energy – have kids define renewable energy and then list all the sources they can think of. They can turn cards of renewable energy sources into a memory game.

There is a lot kids can learn and even invent as they explore these important topics. Science experience are educational and fun. There is no limit to a child’s imagination. Nurture it now – these kids are the future of our planet.

Green Buildings

May 14th, 2019 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet

What are green buildings? Buildings that have been created structurally using processes that are environmentally friend and very resource-efficient. The entire process from design to construction, operation, maintenance, renovation and reconstruction is environmentally responsible, in both parts and labour.

Green buildings are also known as Sustainable.

Green buildings are designed to reduce the overall impact of the built environment on human health and the natural environment by:

  • Efficiently using energy, water, and other resources
  • Protecting occupant health and improving employee productivity
  • Reducing waste, pollution and environmental degradation

Green building may utilise sustainable materials, minimize the use of pollutants and feature landscaping that may require less watering, allowing for the conservation of water.

There are countless reasons to build green and we are seeing an increase in green buildings as businesses and individuals become more aware of the impact humans are having on the planet. Consumers are actively looking to do business with companies that are environmentally responsible.

History of Green Building

Green building became a movement that people became passionate about, out of necessity. The need for more energy efficient solutions became important due to oil prices increasing in the 1970s.

The movement started with a flurry of research and activity that focused on improving energy efficiency and finding and using renewable resources.

This combined with the environmental movement of the 60s and 70s, led to much experimenting and learning about green building.

It was in the 1990s that the movement became more established. The U.S. saw environmental laws increasing and a demand for more accountability for the carbon footprint.

EPA ProgramsThe EPA has a number of programs and resources to help you learn more about the components of green building.

Top 3 Fastest Growing Careers in Green Construction

February 19th, 2019 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet

As we’ve said in previous blogs, the American construction industry is undergoing a green transformation, promoting a healthy planet and a booming economy. Let’s take a look at some of the highest-demand construction jobs that focus on green energy.

#1: Water Quality Technicians

The lack of clean water supplies for cities, such as Flint, MI, is a hot topic across the country. Because of this, cities & construction companies are looking for water quality technicians who can ensure resource stability for new developments.

With an Associates Degree, water quality technicians are very knowledgeable and receive an average of $60,000 per year for their services. If you have a passion for construction as well as environmental sustainability, this might be the perfect job for you.

#2: Solar Panel Technicians

Solar panels are becoming increasingly affordable and are straight-forward to install as well. This means that companies who want to do their part to save the planet should include them in their construction plans.

Solar panels have been installed at over 7,000 sites across the country, and construction companies need more solar panel technicians if they want to keep up with the demand. Wages differ from state to state, but the average solar panel technician in California takes home a staggering $84,000 per year. Do you have what it takes to become one?

#3: Green Designers and Architects

Companies aren’t just looking for skilled technicians to work at the job site, they’re also looking for green architects and designers to plan and execute these environmental systems. Of all green construction jobs, green designers and architects are probably the most in demand, as sustainable building designs make up the majority of construction projects today.

Designers and architects are paid accordingly, with the average individual making over $70,000 a year. This is a highly technical field, however, and companies expect a bachelors degree or more from potential designer candidates.

CREED LA fights to ensure that developers pay fair wages to all the hard-working construction professionals throughout the industry while simultaneously providing them with quality health care, continued training, and trustworthy retirement plans. To learn more about how our non-profit organization supports those building a better, greener world for us all, contact CREED LA online or at (877) 810-7473.

How Green Engineering Is Reshaping the Construction Industry

February 5th, 2019 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet

The construction industry is going through a profound transformation as the world becomes more aware of the importance of sustainability. Concepts like green engineering are gaining popularity whereas old practices that harm the environment are fading away. The result is the rise of a new generation of buildings that are economically viable, environmentally friendly, and energy-efficient.

What is Green Engineering?

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines green engineering as “the design, commercialization, and use of processes and products in a way that reduces pollution, promotes sustainability, and minimizes risk to human health and the environment without sacrificing economic viability and efficiency.”

Green engineering is not a new technology but it is a mindset shift. Not so long ago, construction companies used to build without worrying about CO2 emissions or water management. They would do anything to maximize their profits regardless of the consequences for the environment.

Fortunately, the times are changing.

Environmentally-Friendly Buildings

In this very interesting article, BBC talked to people who are contributing to building a greener future. One of them is Scott Moran, senior director of exhibits and architecture at California Academy of Sciences.

Scott has helped design the building’s green systems over the past 15 years. Some of the features include a living room with nearly 1.7 million plants, insects, and birds; solar panels; hydroelectric power generation; and automatic skylights. “Buildings need to be designed and used in a way to save as much energy and water as possible”, he says.

Buildings like the California Academy of Sciences are expected to become more popular in the near future. According to the International Labor Organization, environmentally-friendly buildings will generate more than 6.5 million jobs by 2030.

If you want to help build a greener future, we can work together!

CREED LA fights to ensure that developers pay fair wages to all the hard-working construction professionals throughout the industry while simultaneously providing them with quality health care, continued training, and trustworthy retirement plans. To learn more about how our non-profit organization supports those building a better, greener world for us all, contact CREED LA online or at (877) 810-7473.

How To Revitalize Communities Without Gentrification

January 12th, 2018 Posted by Uncategorized No Comment yet

Cities are always looking to improve their neighborhoods for the better. But what is better for developers and the upper middle class isn’t always what’s best for the community as a whole. With so much controversy surrounding these changes, the question arises: is it possible to revitalize neighborhoods without gentrification?

What is Gentrification?

To answer this, first we must look at the definition of gentrification itself. Urban studies refer to gentrification as “the process of renovation of a deteriorated area, generally associated with an influx of affluent residents.” As a city builds and improves on a neighborhood with intent to transform it from “low value” to “high value”, wealthier residents move in, the cost of living increases, and this creates a cycle. However, while this change may seem outwardly beneficial (reduced crime rates, quality of living improvements, improved economic status), it can actually displace longtime residents and businesses as the costs of rent, taxes, and mortgages in the area increase.

Is It Possible to Revitalize Without Gentrification?

If one of the main issues with gentrification is that it displaces the current population of a neighborhood in favor of wealthier inhabitants, then one answer is to build a seven step place-based economy. The seven steps include attention to place, ownership, multipliers, collaboration, inclusion, workforce, and system. Economic growth and entities can be designed to benefit the communities and neighborhoods in which change is taking place. Developing and improving the local assets of a neighborhood can ensure that wealth stays local. In many cases, residents of these neighborhoods do want the area to be cleaner and safer, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they want it to be hip or trendy. Sometimes “flipping” a neighborhood isn’t the answer: gradual, sustained, and smaller-scale improvement is.

Any kind of change is going to have an effect on the neighborhood and community. It’s the responsibility of the people making the changes to ensure that the community can thrive and succeed during and after the changes are implemented.

CREED LA fights to ensure that developers pay fair wages to all the hard working construction professionals throughout the industry while simultaneously providing them with quality health care, continued training, and trustworthy retirement plans. To learn more about how our non-profit organization supports those building a better, greener world for us all, contact CREED LA online or at (877) 810-7473.

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