|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
Essential Business Declaration
On March 24th, Governor Tony Evers issued the 'Safer at Home' order to close all nonessential businesses for the next 30 days. By March 30, at least 30 states have issued 'stay at home' orders and most have included construction as "essential" businesses.
Governor Evers' decision to exempt construction is based on the importance of balancing public health with the need to address critical infrastructure projects. Construction Business Group coordinated the efforts of labor and management to deliver a unified
to Governor Evers.
Fifteen labor and management organizations in Wisconsin committed to the health, safety and welfare of our workforce and the public by issuing
specific mitigation strategies
to combat the COVID-19 outbreak on jobsites.
We are committed to working together with Governor Evers and the State of Wisconsin to enhance jobsite protections and ensure a safe workplace for our workers and the general public. We will keep you updated on all further developments. Great things happen when labor and management are Building Wisconsin Together.
2020 CBG Winter Conference - A Success
Annually, CBG hosts a winter conference to bring labor, management and stakeholders together for two days of industry education and comradery. The 2020 conference was attended by over 165 people from multiple trade unions, general contractors, specialty subcontractors, utilities, municipalities and service companies that support the construction industry.
The conference kicked off on Thursday, March 5, with Governor Tony Evers giving the keynote address. Governor Evers' remarks confirmed for the industry that he is committed to long-term infrastructure investment and planning. He intends to work cooperatively with the Legislature to find a long-term solution for sustainable transportation funding in the next budget. He expressed his willingness to continue to invest in public schools, universities and technical education. He stated he will continue to push for broadband expansion to underserved and rural communities because it is essential to the economic health of the entire State.
Governor Evers is not a typical politician. He has no grand political aspirations and is not tied to a political ideology dictated by the outside influence of billionaires. He cares about Wisconsin and its residents, which is why he pushes for infrastructure investment, stable public education and quality healthcare. These are bi-partisan, common sense issues that are important to Wisconsin families and businesses.
Also speaking on Thursday, was Department of Revenue Secretary Peter Barca. Secretary Barca explained the DOR's efforts to locate out-of-state contractors that build construction projects in Wisconsin and then leave the State without paying their fair share of taxes. The DOR's efforts have resulted in the collection of tens of millions of unpaid tax dollars from out-of-state entities.
On Friday, two panel discussions were the highlights of the day. The first panel discussion included Governor Evers' Chief of Staff Maggie Gau, as well as trade union and construction industry lobbyists representing the entire political spectrum. While all panelists expressed concern with the growing radical contingencies in both the Senate and the Assembly, the group agreed that having a democratic Governor forced the Legislature to compromise on transportation funding, the capital budget and broadband expansion. To keep that critical balance of power, the 2020 election results need to keep the Senate and Assembly Republicans from winning veto-proof majorities.
The second panel discussion concentrated on payroll fraud and misclassification. Department of Workforce Development Unemployment Insurance Administrator Mark Reihl and contractor and trade union panelists discussed the status of the Governor's Task Force on payroll fraud, including the anticipated release of the first report, the common sense recommendations unanimously approved by the task force and the work of the task force in the coming months. The audience heard about successful criminal prosecutions of labor brokers and construction companies in Minnesota and how the Minnesota model of targeted prosecution could be used in Wisconsin.
In addition to the special guests Governor Evers, Chief of Staff Gau, Secretary Barca and Administrator Reihl, additional conference presenters spoke on a wide variety of topics, including Davis Bacon compliance, independent contractor standards in the gig economy, family business dynamics impacting closely-held construction companies, CBG's launching of two apps, and the status of the Operating Engineers Pre-Apprenticeship program for high school.
On behalf of myself and the entire CBG staff, thank you to all of the conference speakers and attendees. It was a great two days. We hope to see you again next year.
Building Wisconsin Together
Local 139's workforce efforts highlighted to a national audience
It was a proud moment for Local 139 as a number of their workforce initiatives were highlighted as a success story at CONEXPO/CONAGG 2020 in Las Vegas. Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) was looking for an education session for CONEXPO focused on youth outreach and AEM's Director of Education Program, Brooke Konopacki, recalled seeing her college friend Robb Kahl's postings on social media about Destinations Career Academy, the online school that offers the Operating Engineers' pre-apprenticeship program. It only took one conversation for Brooke to realize that the expertise and success stories she was seeking came from Wisconsin and Local 139.
Laura Cataldo, consultant to CBG and Local 139, led the presentation on attracting and training Generation Z to the construction industry with a panel that shared their individual perspectives. A special thank you to the following panelists:
- Matt Binsfeld, President and CEO, JF Brennan Company
- Kip Gutke, Training Staff, Local 139
- Zach Karsten, Apprentice, JF Brennan Company
- Jeff Vincent, Executive Director, IUOE Training Fund
The focus of the presentation and panel discussion was to share Local 139's successful strategies in reaching Generation Z through exploration, education and engagement.
- Exploration: Local 139's Externship Day was highlighted and panelists shared their perspectives on outreach/marketing of the event, contractor participation and leveraging member/apprentice/retiree volunteers.
- Education: The unique online pre-apprenticeship program available to high school students through Destinations Career Academy was explained. Jeff Vincent strongly encouraged other locals in the audience to consider adopting the curriculum in their states and Zach shared his personal experience with the online curriculum.
- Experience: Local 139 has been an active partner with school districts and contractors in providing relevant experience for young people interested in construction through career fairs, school visits and the pursuit of youth apprenticeship. Matt Binsfeld shared the employer's perspective on the importance of considering hiring employees that have passion and drive.
Thank you to the Local 139 members and retirees that joined us in Vegas for the presentation. It was a pleasure to share your success with the audience of contractors and labor organizations that attended the presentation at CONEXPO/CONAGG
Spring 2020 Externship postponed
In accordance with Governor Evers' 'Safer at Home' order, the Wisconsin Operating Engineers are postponing the previously scheduled externship days (April 22-23).
Industry News and Updates
Legal Update: United States Department of Labor Issues
First Guidance on Families First Coronavirus Response Act
(Article provided by WIB Attorney, Jacob Frost)
On March 24th, the United States Department of Labor (DOL) issued its first guidance documents related to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). The new guidance is in the form of a FAQ.
Most importantly, the DOL guidance states that the leave portions of the FFCRA will be effective on April 1, 2020, not April 2, 2020 as was previously anticipated. The guidance also provides instructions to employers for calculating whether they have fewer than 500 employees (and thus are subject to the FFCRA). Additionally, the guidance provides some information on calculating the amount of pay owed to employees under the FFCRA.
More guidance and formal regulations are still expected from the DOL. Additionally, the DOL might revise its existing guidance to provide further clarity. It appears that the DOL is continuously revising the websites containing the guidance documents related to the FFCRA without providing notice of the revisions or indicating the date on which the DOL made revisions. These revisions have created inconsistencies between the various guidance documents, and we recommend that employers consult with legal counsel to ensure that they are in compliance with the latest and most accurate DOL guidance related to the FFCRA.
The DOL has created a fact sheet on the FFCRA for employees and a fact sheet on the FFCRA for employers. In a footnote on these FFCRA fact sheets, the DOL states that FFCRA regulations are "expected April 2020."
These regulations are very important for businesses with fewer than 50 employees that may be seeking a small business exemption from this law. For now, the DOL merely instructs these small businesses to "document why your business with fewer than 50 employees meet the criteria set forth by the Department." Unfortunately, these businesses likely will not know the exemption criteria before the FFCRA goes into effect on April 1, 2020. Obviously, this poses a real challenge for small businesses seeking to rely on the exemption.
Notice for Posting
The DOL has also created the Notice of FFCRA requirements that employers must conspicuously post on their premises. Employers should post this notice where it posts other employment notices. The DOL has also posted a FAQ regarding the Notice. The FAQ states that because most employees are working remotely, an employer may satisfy the posting requirement by emailing or direct mailing the Notice to employees or posting this Notice on an internal or external website.
The DOL changed this notice on March 26 without indicating the change on the Notice itself. The DOL recommends that employers sign up for "Key News Alerts" to ensure they remain current with all notice requirements or visit its website.
Employers who sent out the old version of the Notice should post and distribute this new version of the Notice in same manner as they did previously. This new Notice still does not provide completely clear guidance to employees on all aspects of the FFCRA. Therefore, there is a chance the Notice might be revised again by the DOL in the future. If that happens, employers will likely have to post and distribute the new Notice in the same manner as they did previously.
Temporary Non-Enforcement Period
On March 24, 2020, the DOL published a Field Assistance Bulletin specifying that the the DOL would observe a temporary period of non-enforcement of violations of the FFCRA occurring within 30 days of the enactment of the FFCRA, which is from March 18 through April 17, 2020 (non-enforcement period).
The DOL is providing this non-enforcement period in order to enable employers covered by the FFCRA to come into compliance with the new paid leave benefits. This means the DOL will not bring enforcement actions against any employer for any FFCRA violations that occur through April 17, 2020 provided the employer has made reasonable, good faith efforts to comply with the FFCRA.
Employers will be found to have acted "reasonably" and "in good faith" when all of the following are present:
- The employer remedies any violations, including by making all affected employees whole as soon as practical if FFCRA payments were missed or paid incorrectly.
- Violations of the FFCRA were not "willful," which the DOL defines as the employer either knew or showed reckless disregard for the matter.
- The DOL receives a written commitment from the employer that it will comply with the FFCRA in the future.
If the employer violates any of the three conditions above, the DOL is authorized to fully enforce the FFCRA during the non-enforcement period.
This Field Assistance Bulletin does not restrict an employee's right to file a private cause of action for violations during the non-enforcement period. At this time, it does not appear there will be any "grace period" for unintentional FFCRA violations that occur after April 17, 2020.
(If you have further questions or need additional information, please contact Brian Dake at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can forward them on to Jacob Frost who is working from home.)
Governor Evers Issues Additional Guidance on
On March 25th, the Governor posted a Safer-at-Home Order
on the Wisconsin Economic Development
to help clarify the scope and intent of this statewide directive. Of note, the FAQ clarifies the following matters:
- Moving and relocation services are essential businesses and operations;
- Landscape businesses are not considered essential businesses or operations. Staff can perform minimum basic operations as defined in the order; and
- If a local unit of government issues a similar order that conflicts with the statewide order, individuals and businesses in that community must follow the statewide order.
We encourage you to review this four-page document.
Fair Contracting Foundation of Minnesota
January 2020 Newsletter
Trades Women Build Nations: Epic Movement in the Making
The next generation of building trades members came to Minneapolis in October. To organize, to learn, but most importantly, to celebrate being in the trades.
The 9th National Trades Women Build Nations Conference solidified itself as the North America's Building Trades Union's (NABTU's) largest annual gathering. More than 2,700 women from across North America attended, surpassing last year's total. Equally impressive is that the attendees paid their own way.
"The people in leadership who attended were very surprised at the pride women have in being union trades workers. They couldn't believe the energy of the conference as a whole," said Vicki O'Leary, chairwoman of the NABTU committee. "More general presidents taking a role is exactly what we need to keep women's membership growing."
Local Minnesota unions and their leadership made a strong contribution to the success of the conference according to Jessica Looman, executive director of the Minnesota Building Trades. "The conference was very well supported by the locals. One thing really exciting to see was local union leadership really embrace the conference not just by asking their members to attend but by encouraging them to be leaders," she said.
(Visit FCFMN's Resources Page)
Wage theft: An underreported crime
Catholic News Service | Mark Pattison
February 21, 2020
A rising tide lifts all boats, according to the popular economic adage.
But what if the reverse also is true? What happens when wages are depressed, and illegally so?
The Catholic Labor Network, based in Washington, is testing that theory right now through its Mid-Atlantic Construction Wage Theft Project. It has sent a man to construction sites in Maryland and the District of Columbia to talk to workers to learn who hired them and how much they're getting paid.
Ernesto Galeas, who has gone to the job sites, said a growing number of builders are going through labor brokers to obtain workers. The brokers get their fee - and, according to Galeas, the workers get about $10 an hour with no overtime, no Social Security, no worker's compensation and no health insurance.
WisDOT Requests Project Washing Stations
Contractors should expect WisDOT Project Staff to request hand washing stations on projects. As stated below, this will be done by contract modification and if you are having difficulty obtaining washing stations, you should inform the Project Leader.
The following note from WisDOT was sent to project staff:
For all active construction projects and projects starting up:
Please enter into a contract modification to add a wash station to your field office location. This is only needed if you are in a temporary field office with no available running water and soap. These wash stations should have soap and a foot pump to convey water thru a faucet. The contractor should maintain and supply these facilities until further notice. You may want to write the mod as a per month fee. If the contractor informs you that they are having difficulty securing one of these stations, please let your area construction oversight engineer know.
Please issue these mods as projects start until further notice.
Construction Business Group | 608-240-4170 | www.cbgwi.com