Skilled Construction Trades and Respected Contractors
Building Wisconsin Together ®
Welcome to Construction Business Group's Industry Updates.  This monthly e-newsletter will help us communicate the important initiatives that we have underway and relevant updates on issues that impact Wisconsin's construction industry.  
Message from Executive Director  Robb Kahl

CBG hosted its Winter Conference February 22-23. Over 100 people representing a wide cross mix of labor, contractors, and associations attended the two-day event. I would like to personally thank the speakers and the attendees. The conference would not have been a success without you.
 
For those unable to attend, our speaker lineup was impressive. On Thursday afternoon, four of the candidates running for Governor answered questions from the audience on their vision for the future of infrastructure in Wisconsin. The panelists were Tony Evers (Superintendent of Public Instruction), Matt Flynn (Retired Partner of Quarles & Brady LLP), Andy Gronik (President and Founder of StageW) and Mahlon Mitchell (President of the Professional Fire Fighters of Wisconsin). While the speakers had differing views and approaches on many many things, there was one issue that everyone agreed on: Wisconsin must find a long-term funding solution for transportation infrastructure and borrowing must stop.
 
On Friday morning, Professor Charles Franklin gave an insightful presentation on historical voting patterns in Wisconsin and what that might mean for the the 2018 elections. Craig Thompson, Executive Director of the Transportation Development Association of Wisconsin, gave an overview of the "Just Fix It" campaign, which is an ongoing effort to get the legislature and the Governor to raise revenue for the State's growing transportation needs.
 
We had two speakers address compliance topics affecting much of the construction industry. Matt Capece spoke on Payroll Fraud, and Allen Smith spoke on Benefits Fraud. In the near future, both of the compliance presentation will be available online.
 
Closing out the seminar on Friday was a panel discussion moderated by John Gard on the political happenings in Washington D.C. Congressman Glenn Grothman and Congressman Mike Gallagher gave the attendees insight on what they expect will, and will not, be in President Trump's infrastructure package.
 
Again, thank you to all of the speakers and the attendees. We look forward to seeing you again next year.
 

 

Building Wisconsin Together ®
Taking the Credit You Deserve:  Work Opportunity Tax Credit

Recruiting workers in an economy with record low unemployment has necessitated the need to look at populations that are under-represented in our industry. The Executive Order Expanding Apprenticeships in America is focused on:
  • High school students
  • Job Corps participants
  • Currently or previously incarcerated
  • HS and post-secondary drop-outs
  • Veterans
If your company is recruiting and training individuals from these populations, there is a very good chance that you qualify for the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC). This is a federal tax credit designed to help people gain on-the-job experience and achieve better employment outcomes.  WOTC is a program that offers federal tax credits to employers as an incentive to hire individuals in target groups.  Not surprising, this list of qualifications looks very similar to the target populations of the Executive Order. 
 
WOTC applies only to new employees. Employers can claim up to 40% of the first $6,000 in qualified first-year wages for a maximum credit of $2,400 per new hire. 
 
Your company qualifies for the tax credit if you are:
  • Using a work preparation or apprenticeship readiness program for new hires
  • Participating in regional preference programs (RPPs)
  • Faced with project-specific hiring goals
To learn more about claiming the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC), contact Laura Cataldo at 608-240-2488 or via e-mail at laura.cataldo@bakertilly.com


April 18th Externship for Educators and Students
 
The next externship for educators and high school students is scheduled for April 18th at the Coloma Training Center.  This full day event is the perfect opportunity to learn about the career path of an Operating Engineer, tour the training center and learn about the pre-apprenticeship and Registered Apprenticeship process.  Please share the attached flyer with educators in your community. 
Industry News and Updates
From the News Stand
Bidding Opportunities for Foxconn Infrastructure Work
 
Contractors specifically looking for work related to road, water mains and sewers can sign up to receive the latest news by going to the newly announced Wisconn Valley Website. The website's public construction info page allows contractors to provide an email address that will be used to tell them of the latest opportunities. 
Funding for state roads down as much as $90 million due to Foxconn project
 
A new road project serving the $10 billion Foxconn plant in Racine County could reduce funding for other state roads by as much as $90 million in the current budget, according to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau.

The reduction leaves state highway rehabilitation funding as much as $870 million short of the $2.4 billion per biennium the Department of Transportation estimates is needed to maintain road conditions at current levels for the next decade.

According to the DOT, 79 percent of state highways were in fair or better condition as of December 2016. Gov. Scott Walker proposed funding state highways at $1.7 billion in the current budget, which, if maintained at that level for a decade, would have resulted in 61.7 percent of roads being in fair or better condition by July 2028.


For military vets, unions offer camaraderie, careers and help adapting to civilian life
 
JANUARY 9, 2018
BY B. DAVID ZARLEY
 
Laura Asher may be the tallest thing for miles.
 
Asher had climbed multiple ladders, lightly struck her helmeted head on a protruding hose, maneuvered through a small, greased aperture, and taken a seat at the controls of a luffing tower crane, roughly 80 feet above Illinois. She was far enough south that the skyscrapers of Chicago had given way to flat former prairie which seems to run, flush and forever.
 
The crane and its canary compatriots tower above the landscape, rivaled only by the wind turbine trainer and the stacks of shipping containers across a large pond from the William E. Dugan Training Center, where the Local 150 of the International Union of Operating Engineers trains apprentices and journeymen.
 
Two billion dollars in stolen wages were recovered for workers in 2015 and 2016-and that's just a drop in the bucket

EPI Report * By Celine McNicholas, Zane Mokhiber, and Adam Chaikof 
December 13, 2017
 
What this study finds:  In 2015 and 2016, a total of $2 billion in stolen wages ($880.3 million in 2015; $1.1 billion in 2016) were recovered for workers by the U.S. Department of Labor ($246.8 million in 2015; $266.6 million in 2016); by state departments of labor and attorneys general in 39 states ($170.0 million in 2015; $147.5 million in 2016); and through class action settlements ($463.6 million in 2015; $695.5 million in 2016). These represent wages stolen by employers who, for example, refuse to pay promised wages, pay employees for only some of the hours worked, or fail to pay overtime premiums when employees work more than 40 hours in a week.
 
Why it matters:  Given that wage theft disproportionately affects workers from low-income households-who are already struggling to make ends meet-the loss of wages can be devastating. And these recovery numbers likely dramatically underrepresent the pervasiveness of wage theft-it has been estimated that low-wage workers lose more than $50 billion annually to wage theft. Regardless of what share of actual wage theft the recovery numbers represent, these data are one more reminder that wage theft is not isolated to a few bad employers, but affects workers much more broadly.
 
 
 
 

DA cracking down on wage theft by construction contractors (NY)
 
By Priscilla DeGregory and Emily Saul
December 4, 2017 | 4:36pm
 
The city's five district attorneys have agreed to crack down on wage theft by construction contractors - after an investigation revealed that more than $1.2 million in wages had been illegally withheld from workers.

The state Department of Labor has uncovered some 400 cases since it began looking into wage theft earlier this year. Nearly $700,000 has been returned so far, authorities said, and the investigation is ongoing.

"Every week, New Yorkers lose $20 million in unpaid wages. And every day, construction workers who risk their lives doing dangerous jobs have to wonder whether they'll actually be paid for their work," Manhattan DA Cy Vance said Monday.
 

 
Year-End Financial Report on Wisconsin's UI Trust Fund
 
Recently, the Unemployment Insurance Advisory Council received a report from the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) on the year-end financial condition of the state's Unemployment Insurance (UI) Trust Fund.
 
By way of background, state UI taxes paid by Wisconsin employers are deposited into the UI Trust Fund and from this account UI benefits are paid to unemployed workers. The highlights from the report are:
  • Benefit payments for calendar year 2017 total $408.0 million - down 10.8% from calendar year 2016. The last time UI benefits payments were this low was 1999;
  • 2017 calendar year tax receipts were $683.1 million compared to 2016 tax receipts of $842.5 million. The 18.9% decrease is a result of the change in UI Tax Rate Schedule from B to C, along with the movement of employers as their experience rating has improved;
  • The December 31, 2017, UI Trust Fund ending balance was nearly $1.5 billion - up 27% from the previous year; and 
  • The balance of the UI Trust Fund on June 30 of each year determines the tax rate schedule for 2018. The Trust Fund balance exceeds $1.2 billion therefore the 2018 tax rate moved from Schedule C to Schedule D. The last time, Wisconsin employers paid at the lowest tax rate schedule was 2003.
Wisconsin Exports Up in 2017
 
According to United States Census Bureau data, Wisconsin businesses exported $22.3 billion in goods and services to 202 countries in 2017 - up 6.1% from the previous year.
 
Wisconsin's export growth was generated by significant increases in shipments to Canada, Mexico, and China, the state's three largest export destinations. More specifically:
  • Exports to Canada grew by 4.3% to $6.9 billion, driven by increases in the export of miscellaneous mineral products and electrical machinery.
  • Exports to Mexico were up 4.8% to a record $3.2 billion, mostly because of an increase in the export of electrical machinery and oil seeds (primarily soybeans).
  • Exports to China jumped by 21.6% to $1.7 billion also a record for exports to that country. Driving the growth in exports to China were increases in the shipments of aircraft and parts; industrial machinery; dairy products; wood and wood products; and raw hides and skins.
Chao Hints Document Will Flesh Out Infrastructure Plan

Transportation Secretary Tells AASHTO of Additional Details to Come
 
WASHINGTON - Transportation leaders should look forward to a document coming out in the next few days that will provide additional details about President Donald Trump's infrastructure plan, according to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.

Chao delivered keynote remarks at the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials' legislative meeting in Washington Feb. 28. She said the publication, called the "President's Initiative for Rebuilding Infrastructure in America," was supposed to be released Feb. 28.

"This is the work of a lot of really wonderful people at the department, and it provides fuller picture behind the reasoning of the president's infrastructure plan and the goals as well," Chao said.


Legislative News
New York State Reciprocal Debarment Legislation Signed into Law by Governor Cuomo
 
ALBANY, N.Y., Dec. 22, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE)

On December 18, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law new reciprocal debarment legislation to amend labor and general municipal law, as it relates to reciprocity of debarments imposed under the federal Davis-Bacon Act. The bill states that any contractor debarred by the U.S. Department of Labor for violations of the Davis-Bacon Act cannot work on New York State public works projects.  The statute will take effect in March 2018.

"This is an important new State law that ensures that contractors barred on the federal level from public works projects won't have the ability to win new projects in the State of New York," said John Ballantyne, NRCC's Executive Secretary-Treasurer. "We're pleased to support a law that ensures that hardworking men and women carpenters receive good pay and benefits from reputable, law-abiding companies in the State."


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