It All Comes Down to You
"I am a partner of an open-shop drywall company," he wrote. "I (came up with an idea) of a code of ethics backed by an organization, such as yours, that we drywall contractors could join and be subjected to."
Brian then went on to list his "trade fair certified subcontractor 10 Commandments." Last month, of course, Pete Battisti gave us 12 Construction Commandments. Here is more gospel, according to Brian:
1 Use American labor only, including naturalized citizens and legal immigrants.
2 Provide a wage that is at the least comparable to the median wage rate of the region in which said work is performed.
3 All overtime after 40 hours is to be paid at government-mandated rates.
4 Provide a paid holiday and vacation package that allows a minimum of 10 working days off a year for each employee. (I assume he means paid vacation days).
5 Provide health insurance that is 50 percent or more paid by the employer.
6 Keep pace with and enforce industry standard safety regulations.
7 Strive to provide a labor force of hourly employees and not rely on undocumented subcontractors.
8 Provide a professional workforce whose primary objective is to bring each job in under budget and on schedule.
9 Provide all tools and equipment other than personal hand tools so that each employee can perform his duties in a consistent professional manner.
10 Adhere to a moral code of ethics that will guide you with your employees' and clients' best interests at heart.
Unfortunately, it isn't our job to create such a code, let alone enforce it. That falls to the industry professionals themselves. Nonetheless, Brian's call is to anyone who shares his concerns. What concerns me is that in my opinion, everything on this list should be a given. Is our industry really in such a state that if someone isn't commanded to adhere to a moral code of ethics that he won't? In other words, if murder weren't illegal, would people kill regularly?
There's a word called accountability. We are responsible for the world we create. It's easy to list a set of "commandments" but the world isn't so black and white. In response to each of Brian's commandments:
1 What if no Americans want to do the work?
2 How can one learn what a median wage is? Are median wages relative?
3 Why are there people out there who don't pay overtime?
4 It took me several years to earn 10 paid vacation days. What is the timetable for this benefit?
5 Is it really an employer's job to provide health insurance? Is the problem elsewhere?
6 Are there really that many subs oblivious to safety issues?
7 Not all business entities can support a labor force. Again, a relative issue.
8 A credible sub can do this but what about exterior forces beyond a sub's control?
9 Again, are there subs who don't supply the proper tools?
10 Can we have ethics without morality and vice versa? Working people depend on ethics to survive. Often, ethics are absent where they are most necessary.
I don't mean to pick on Brian's list. I'm sure these are real issues for him and many others. But whose job is it to enforce them? When are we each going to take responsibility for our own actions, behaviors and practices? As a partner of his company, I assume he runs it according to his list and laments that not enough others do the same.
We know right from wrong. If we would just act accordingly, we wouldn't need to create rules for others. Examine your company. Are any of these "commandments" issues? If so, consider solutions that benefit the industry as a whole not just a single company. If we all lead by example, we'd know of no other way but the way "with the employees' and clients' best interests at heart." Thanks for the letter, Brian!