A Clear View of the Construction Career Collaborative (C3)

Bryant Black

Director, Workforce Development
Greater Houston Partnership

Houston’s Construction Career Collaborative (C3), a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization focused on the commercial construction industry in the Houston Region, has made significant progress in the last two years. Today, we are an alliance of over 200 institutional owners, general and specialty contractors that have each embraced the principles that drive C3. Those principles include providing construction craft employees with financial security (hourly wage plus overtime), social security, worker’s compensation insurance, safety and craft training. We are constantly working to attract new alliance members and C3 accredited companies. We need your help.

You might ask,  “What is C3’s mission anyway?”  C3’s mission is to positively affect the issues facing the craft worker for the commercial construction industry in the Houston Region.  The goal of this alliance of contractors, specialty contractors and owners is to create a highly trained career construction workforce for Houston for the 21st century. Evidence of that success will be a net gain in those jobs in the Houston Region and perhaps ultimately beyond our region.

For the long term, in the face of demographic shifts, lack of defined craft career road maps and clear education for those students looking for a career in the construction trades, and a current shortage of skilled workers, C3 members are understandably concerned about the sustainability of the Houston commercial construction craft workforce.

The C3 alliance includes eight prominent C3 owners who endorse the three major principles and who specify C3 accreditation as a requirement on their projects.  These “endorsing owners” have completed three C3 projects, are under construction on seven more and have several others in the design and planning stages.

Success has created a growing need for us to get our message to company leaders like you in the Houston Region who share the vision for the future of the Houston Commercial Construction workforce and to clarify our goals for the future. The rapid growth of the C3 alliance has created some notable successes but has also created some misconceptions about our objectives in the marketplace that we want to clarify.

In order to create a sustainable craft workforce and attract candidates to a career in the craft trades, the Houston Commercial Construction industry must treat its craft workers as valued assets. Commercial Construction companies must provide their craft workforce with the tools to work safely and successfully.  We must clearly demonstrate that there is a path to a middle class lifestyle for craft workers in commercial construction in the Houston Region. To that end, the C3 alliance is working with the Greater Houston Partnership’s Upskill Houston initiative and its “partners in education” and industry to help make a career in the craft trades attractive once again.

As referenced earlier, C3 has adopted three principles- Financial Security, Health and Well Being of the Craft Worker, Craft Training and Safety Training.  The C3 alliance achieves these principles through an accreditation process by which each C3 “Owner endorser” requires Accredited Employers (Contractor or Specialty Contractor) to pledge:

  1. To pay by the hour and not by the piece
  2. That all craft workers receive a Form W-2 and not a Form 1099 at the end of the tax year
  3. To provide overtime pay as prescribed by federal law
  4. To deduct and match all federal and state employment taxes as required by law
  5. To provide worker’s compensation insurance coverage for all employees as defined by the Texas Worker’s Compensation Act
  6. That all company craft workers have an OSHA 10 card
  7. That all company supervisory personnel have an OSHA 30 card
  8. To support the development and delivery of craft training for their craft workers
  9. To pay an annual C3 accreditation fee of $1500

C3 Project Participant firms must meet all of the criteria itemized above for their workers on a C3 project and pay a per-project fee determined by the size of their contract.

It is also important to establish what C3 believes:

  • Minimum wage levels are defined by Federal law and not by C3.
  • The free market will establish competitive wage rates through the economics of supply and demand, and we support the free market.
  • Companies have varying views on the immigration laws, and as a result, C3 does not take a stance on immigration.
  • C3 companies believe that the industry must provide safety and craft training for its workers.
  • Most Houston commercial projects utilize a combination of union and merit workers in the construction process. The C3 alliance represents the Houston Commercial Construction industry, which includes both Union and Merit shop companies, who are both represented on the C3 Board of Directors.

The ultimate vision of the C3 alliance is a Houston Commercial Construction industry that is populated by a highly skilled craft workforce, which delivers top quality work in less time with less rework. Owners building projects under the C3 guiding principles will receive higher quality buildings with longer life cycles and lower life cycle costs in addition to the productivity, efficiency and economy realized in the construction process that embraces the C3 principles. On C3 projects, General and Specialty Contractors will compete on a “level playing field” for new projects.  Finally, the Houston Commercial Construction industry will establish a sustainable craft workforce because young people recognize that construction offers a path to a fulfilling career and a middle-class lifestyle.

If you are an owner, the leader of an institution, a commercial developer, Contractor or Specialty Contractor who shares the C3 vision of creating a sustainable, highly skilled commercial construction workforce for the 21st century, become part of the C3 solution.

Chuck Gremillion is the executive Director of the Construction Career Collaborative (C3)

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