A Reader Responds

Laura M. Porinchak / October 2015

The immigration issue is a big one in construction. Some contractors freely admit to hiring misclassified workers just to keep the jobs on track, while others can’t believe those contractors would admit to it so freely! The amount of discussion on this subject prompted our “InSync” columnist, Mark L. Johnson, to run a two-part series on the misclassification of workers.

We received some response to those columns and AWCI President John Hinson’s, but readers asked that their thoughts remain unpublished. Only one person, Mark Nichols of Imperial West, Inc., was bold enough to go where no man had gone yet, so I offer some of my editorial real estate to Mark’s letter:

I'll start off by saying that I am aware you did not write the referenced article (August 2015 “InSync”).

The article title would seem to confer a certain level of accidental happenstance with regards to employer classifications of their workers. As if it was a “mistake,” or someone “mis-spoke,” perhaps a “misguided” attempt of reporting wages. Current politicians seem to “mis-remember” quite often these days. All to attempt a bit of a dust-cloud to distract the audience/authorities to the fact that the action was intentionally committed.

This is particularly true in the Arizona cases regarding the third party sham LLC organizations into which the workers would “buy-in” with a nominal (usually $1) payment to become a partial owner of the LLC, thereby eliminating wage and hour requirements, overtime requirements, worker’s compensation coverages, payroll FICA/Medicare matching deposits, etc. since as an “owner” these requirements would be waived by signing the purchase document.

I know this to be true, because I had the LLC set-up artists stop at our office and try to pitch the idea and available company savings (listed above) for us to utilize. When I told them, even at first blush, that there was no way that the process could be legal, they claimed it was all totally and completely legal and had been being done up in Utah for quite some time with no problems. I told them to not let the door hit them in the butt on the way out.

Anyone who signed up for the subterfuge, and would claim that they were unknowingly duped into something of which they were unaware, is the lowest form of contractor in my opinion.

And just so you know, I have been told by a contractor friend who attempted to very recently hire a worker from one of the previous perpetrators. Asked for ID for E-verify, and the person said, “No, no, I become part owner” with the proffered dollar payment. Told that was not how they did it and could not hire someone that way, the worker said that Brand X Drywall was doing it to that day. I realize this is third-hand information, but it just confirms the information out on the street here in Arizona.

Mistake, misclassification, my fanny.

Thanks for writing, Mr. Nichols. I know that the immigration issue may not be an actual issue for some of you, but until we have a law—whether we like it or not—that resolves the problem, this will be something that has adverse effects the construction industry. What are your thoughts?

And with the little space I have left, let’s get to what’s inside this issue. Page 36 has an article that describes today’s “new normal.” Eight or so years ago, we had a completely different “new normal.” So, are GCs still self-performing today? Has the way we compete changed? You’ll have to read the article to find out.

Keep reading to see the great work done by AWCI member South Valley Drywall in Colorado on the Exempla Saint Joseph hospital project. The country’s largest hospital had one of the shortest schedules, but South Valley helped make it happen. Their story is on page 46.

Finally, page 50 brings you an update on the AWCI Cares program, which has now given back more than $150,000 in grants to AWCI members in need.

Enjoy!