Carpenters Messaging, Teaching, Recruiting Earlier than Ever Before


Organizations like the Mid-America Carpenters Regional Council are approaching students at younger and younger ages to introduce them to the possibility of pursuing a construction career.

Scott Byrne, St. Louis regional director of the Carpenters, says recruiting – and translating the trades to skills and experiences that ring true for elementary and middle school students – is what it’s all about.

“The days of standing behind a table at a high school jobs fair are long gone,” said Byrne. “Today we’re communicating with students beginning in second and third grade, teaching them how to build a birdhouse and a doghouse and showing them what building with their hands is all about.”

Another innovative entry the Carpenters has made is building relationships nationwide with high school career counselors and mathematics instructors. Byrne says the regional council is currently integrating real-world math skills building in 114 high schools across Missouri.

“Our international union, the United Brotherhood of Carpenters, created career connections, a component that offers math curriculum that’s very practical and useful in the field,” he said. “For example, rather than teaching theoretical geometry, we’re teaching students how to learn the Pythagorean Theorem so they can understand how to lay out a building very quickly. We’re working alongside talented mathematics teachers, showing them a real-world way to apply lessons in geometry, trigonometry and calculus through the context of construction practices.”

Brian Turmail, spokesman for the Associated General Contractors of America, says communicating regularly with high school guidance counselors is also critical. “Students and their parents need to hear that there is another real option out in front of them as an alternative to a four-year college education,” Turmail said. “It’s bonkers that many K-12 students still are not hearing about the pathway through a construction career track. When we speak with our members and their AGC chapters across the U.S., one of the subjects that comes up every time we discuss workforce development is reaching guidance counselors.”

Idaho passed legislation that requires guidance counselors to present vocational education as an option, he said.

Carpenters Support DOL Rule Determining Independent Contractor Status


The United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America this month announced on October 13 its support of the U.S. Dept. of Labor Wage and Hour Division’s proposed rule on determining employee and independent contractor status under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

The proposed rule rescinds and replaces the 2021 rule that the DOL rushed to implement in the closing days of the Trump Administration. Once implemented, this rule would affect millions of workers, including construction workers, healthcare workers and gig workers.

“Misclassifying workers as independent contractors has been a coordinated effort for years by companies who cheat their workers on wages and overtime, and who cheat payroll taxes,” said Douglas J. McCarron, general president of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters. “The previous administration’s independent contractor rule did nothing to solve that problem. In fact, it aggravated the issue and undermined law-abiding employers. We commend the Dept. of Labor for supporting good jobs and high-road employers.”

The classification of a worker as either an employee or an independent contractor is significant, says McCarron, because the Fair Labor Standard Act’s minimum wage, overtime and recordkeeping obligations apply only to employees, not to independent contractors. The consequences of misclassifying employees as independent contractors can include liability for failure to pay minimum wage and overtime, and possible criminal penalties in addition to other penalties under state wage laws.

Shortly after the Biden Administration commenced in January 2021, the Dept. of Labor first delayed implementing the Trump Administration rule and then withdrew it altogether in May 2021.

In March 2022, however, a Texas federal court held that both the rule implementation delay and the rule withdrawal were unlawful. As a result, the Trump rule went into effect.

The latest notice of proposed rulemaking abandons the Trump Administration’s list of factors in assessing independent contractor status and returns to a “totality of the circumstances” approach where the factfinder is free to consider any relevant facts in assessing whether individuals are economically dependent on their employer for work.

The Dept. of Labor is accepting comments on the proposed rule through November 28.

For more information and/or to comment on the rule, see

Industry Still Struggling to Find People, AGC Survey Says


The Associated General Contractors of America’s latest workforce survey reveals that 77 percent of construction industry job candidates either lack the necessary skills or cannot pass a drug test.

A total of 1,266 individuals coast to coast representing all sizes of companies and all sectors weighed in on the survey during July and August.

According to AGC Chief Economist Ken Simonson, 93 percent of construction firms surveyed reported they have open positions they’re seeking to fill. Among those firms, 91 percent are having trouble filling at least some of those positions.

“Construction workforce shortages are severe and having a significant impact on construction firms of all types, all sizes and all labor arrangements,” Simonson said. “These workforce shortages are compounding the challenges firms are having with supply chain disruptions that are inflating the cost of construction materials and making delivery schedules and product availability uncertain.”

More than half (55 percent) of Missouri respondents indicated that their construction firm’s headcount has increased over the past year. Estimating personnel are the most needed salaried positions, according to Missouri firms, followed by project managers/supervisors and engineers.

Regarding the direst needs for craft workers, 91 percent of Missouri construction respondents identified concrete workers and carpenters as the most sought-after tradespeople, followed closely by cement masons and laborers.

Missouri’s surveyed response to the problem of filling available construction industry positions of all types tracked closely with the national statistic. Seventy-six percent of Show-Me State respondents identified job candidates’ lack of transferable job skills and inability to pass a drug test as the greatest barriers to hiring.

A total of 89 percent of those responding from Missouri companies of all sizes said their firm has increased base pay rates and/or benefits in the past 12 months. Eighty-two percent of those surveyed who work in Missouri reported schedule delays due to longer lead times, material shortages or both. More than half (54 percent) said upcoming projects have been canceled, postponed or scaled back due to increasing costs.

For more detail on the AGC’s latest construction industry workforce survey results, see