As I listened to President Obama’s State of the Union Address and his bold meeting with the Republican Caucus a few days later, I found myself silently thinking, “Jobs, jobs, jobs. We need more jobs.” I sounded like the folks who chanted “Drill” “Drill” “Drill” at the Republican Convention.
As I listened to President Obama’s State of the Union
Address and his bold meeting with the Republican Caucus a few days later, I
found myself silently thinking, “Jobs, jobs, jobs. We need more jobs.” I
sounded like the folks who chanted “Drill” “Drill” “Drill” at the Republican
There is now talk about a high-speed rail coming to California, the long
hiatus of building new nuclear power plants may be coming to an end, banks may
soon be making more small business loans, and tax incentives for hiring new
workers and even a mention about a break for giving wage increases.
In my 35 years at the trade I’ve never seen things as slow
as they are right now, nor had I seen things as busy, on a national level, than
say a few years ago. Did we over-build? Did we concentrate on using cheap labor
to build a few million mini-mansions no one can afford to own now? Did we
nurture the middle class or just concentrate on Wall Street in the hope the
“trickle-down” effect would actually work?
As we slowly climb out of this hole we find ourselves, I ask
myself “Will we learn from the mistakes we made during the boom?” I hope so.
Some suggestions from the cheap seats:
Eliminate the possibility of illegal aliens taking jobs that
legal residents and citizens need. Construction jobs should never be considered
on the same level as season fruit picking.
Stop subcontracting abuse. You know what I mean: contractors
who “sub” to a group of workers for the sole purpose of avoiding workers’
compensation and tax liability. This is unethical and unfair to legitimate
builders, and masks the exploitation of illegal labor.
Come up with some tax incentive for using materials
manufactured locally. Save energy and stimulate manufacturing.
These are my suggestions for building a stronger middle
class as the work returns. What are yours?
Trowel Talk: Jobs, Jobs, Jobs
William Rogers is the executive director of the Plasterers and Cement Masons Job Corps Training Program, a national training opportunity for America's disadvantaged youth sponsored by AWCI, OPCMIA and the U.S. Department of Labor.