I take great pleasure in complementing our craftsmen’s work. They have the talent and artistic ability to build today’s landmarks, and it takes years of training and experience to acquire these skills. As the executive near the top, it’s my responsibility—and many of my AWCI partners—to provide career avenues for our craftsmen. It is a pathway to success for them, their families and our businesses.
Education and training are fundamental building blocks in our industry, and they are important factors to emphasize to school counselors on our recruitment drives. Reputable companies provide training, financial security, health and well-being, benefits and retirement plans. It is important to convey the image of work in our field as a great career opportunity.
But there is a growing concern that our industry is abandoning career building, choosing instead to simply focus on getting the job done. In many cases that means subcontracting out the work to a labor crew to perform the company’s jobs. That leads to many questions: Does the crew have liability coverage and workers’ compensation? Is the crew using the company’s tools and equipment, and is it installing company-furnished products? Are these workers required to abide by the company safety policy and attend a safety orientation? Is the crew directed and supervised by the company agent?
In many cases today, these crews are treated as subcontractors or independent contractors when in fact they meet the criteria of employees. It means, unfortunately, that their employers are not providing them with benefits such as healthcare and retirement plans. In some cases they even expect each worker to pay their own payroll taxes. And they are not provided with proper training (accredited training programs, for example), which is why we never see their employers at job recruitment fairs or visiting high schools to promote dual credit craft training programs. I believe these crews damage the image of our industry. What do you think?
Join me and my partners at AWCI in giving thanks to the great companies that help build careers, protect employees and improve the image of our industry.