Skilled Construction Trades and Respected Contractors
Building Wisconsin Together ®
Welcome to Construction Business Group's Industry Updates. This monthly e-newsletter will help us communicate the important initiatives that we have underway and relevant updates on issues that impact Wisconsin's construction industry.  
Message from Executive Director Robb Kahl
Utility-Scale Solar Farms Could Produce Nearly $200M in Economic Benefit to Rural Wisconsin - But Only If Local Workers Are Used
On Wednesday, Forward Analytics released an economic impact study called “Capturing the Sun” regarding utility-scale solar farms in Wisconsin. The study concludes that the 19 solar farms currently being constructed or pending at the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin would generate $195 million in economic activity in the rural Wisconsin communities where the projects are located. 

This much-needed economic boost to our rural communities, however, will only happen if local workers are used. If out-of-state workers are used, the economic benefit drops by 62%. That is a potential loss of $120 million.

While economic impact studies are common, Forward Analytics isolated the workforce variable. This was done because most of the materials used for the solar farms cannot be sourced locally. Wisconsin does not have any solar panel manufacturing facilities. Solar farms require very few workers for long-term operation and maintenance once constructed. With the materials being sourced elsewhere and few workers needed for operation, the vast majority of the economic benefit from a solar farm comes from worker wages during construction. 

The study concludes a solar farm’s economic impact depends on the workforce’s composition (i.e., local versus out-of-state), meaning local workers generate significantly greater economic impact than out-of-state workers. Wisconsin workers spend more of their wages locally, which is why the economic impact to the local community is much higher.

Historically, utility-scale electric generation plants were constructed by public utilities that often use Wisconsin contractors and workers to build the plants. Solar farms are different because most of the solar farms are being built by out-of-state, third-party developers and then sold to public utilities. These developers do not have a history with Wisconsin contractors or workers, and, as a result, the first utility-scale solar farms were constructed using primarily out-of-state contractors and workers.

The 19 solar farms planned for Wisconsin will cost in excess of $2.6 billion. This is a much-needed capital investment as aging electric generation plants are retired, but it is Wisconsin residents that will pay for the projects through their utility bills. Since Wisconsin is paying for the new infrastructure, it should be Wisconsin contractors and workers who build it.
The full study is available here.
Building Wisconsin Together®
Over 800 students expected at Externship Days on November 8-9th

The Coloma Training Center is gearing up to host over 800 students, educators and parents on November 8-9th. The Externship Day is an important opportunity for students, parents, and educators to learn about the rewarding career opportunity of being an Operating Engineer.

This event requires many volunteers - apprentices, operators and contractors. Thank you to Boldt, Cullen, Walbec Group, and Integrity Grading & Excavating for committing to participate in the event.

There is still time for individuals to register. If you know a student that would benefit from this exploration, please share the flyer below.  
Building Wisconsin Together®
From the News Stand
Virginia AG Brings Felony Charges on Contractors Building General Assembly Offices
RICHMOND (October 6, 2021) – Attorney General Mark R. Herring is announcing the first worker misclassification charges brought by his Worker Protection Unit against two subcontractors, GTO Drywall, LLC (GTO) and Richmond Drywall Installers Constructors, Inc. (RDIC), that have been working on the construction of the Virginia General Assembly Building. Both GTO and RDIC were indicted on ten counts of felony embezzlement each by the Richmond Metropolitan Multi-jurisdiction Grand Jury.
The indictments are related to alleged misclassification of workers by both subcontractors in an attempt to avoid withholding premiums for workers’ compensation and avoid paying various taxes to the Commonwealth. Attorney General Herring’s Worker Protection Unit worked with an investigator from the Office of the State Inspector General, after the alleged illegal conduct was brought to the attention of the Unit.
These are the first worker misclassification charges brought by Attorney General Herring’s Worker Protection Unit since its creation earlier this year. Worker misclassification – one of the most common forms of worker exploitation – involves falsely identifying individuals as “independent contractors” when they are really employees. This allows employers to avoid paying unemployment and other taxes on workers and to avoid the costs of covering the employees with workers’ compensation and unemployment insurances, and it has been consistently shown to drive down the wages of other workers.
Criminal indictments are only charges and not evidence of guilt. Both subcontractors are presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty.
Current Surface Transportation Program Funding Expires Sunday, Oct. 31st
The bipartisan Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act would provide a new five-year reauthorization of highway and public transit programs with historic investment increases.
With Democrats still negotiating a larger reconciliation bill, Congress may look to another short-term extension. A recent American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) survey of state DOTs detailed the downside of short-term extensions.
Here is what WisDOT had to say: Short-term extensions of the surface transportation authorization create uncertainty and make planning very difficult. The impact is even greater on the transit program as funding is often held up until a full extension or reauthorization is enacted. Gaps in authorization, even for one day as recently experienced, are even more harmful. A continuous, multi-year authorization act is essential for efficient and effective infrastructure planning and programming and states’ transportation systems.
Tell your representative in the House it is time to stop kicking the can down the road and pass the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act.  
Study: Union Construction Apprenticeships in Wisconsin Rival Bachelor's Degrees on Key Economic and Diversity Metrics
Researchers say investment in joint labor-management (union) programs is driving parity.

La Grange, IL: Graduates of registered apprenticeship programs in Wisconsin’s construction industry achieve near wage parity with workers that have four-year college degrees, according to a new study by the Midwest Economic Policy Institute (MEPI) and the Project for Middle Class Renewal (PMCR) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. 
The study analyzed and compared data from the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, University of Wisconsin System, U.S. Department of Labor, U.S. Census Bureau and Internal Revenue Service to assess outcomes associated with the state’s construction training programs, which represent nearly two-thirds of all apprentices in the state. Researchers not only compared construction apprenticeship programs to colleges and universities, but also assessed key differences between union-affiliated and nonunion-affiliated apprenticeship programs in construction.
Special COVID Mandate Breakdown
It's absolutely vital to remember that there are two federal mandates floating around with different targets and different requirements. The first mandate affects federal contractors only and requires that those workforces be vaccinated, while the second will affect employers with at least 100 employees and will require either vaccination or weekly negative test results. We have a lot more information on the federal contractor mandate right now than we do on the 100+ employer rule.
Click HERE for AGC of Wisconsin's "Legal Briefs" special edition regarding these mandates.
The Intersection Between Workers' Compensation Fraud & Human Trafficking
Work is supposed to be a safe place that provides economic stability and growth opportunities for employees. However, that isn’t the case for everyone. Often construction workers are misclassified so their employers’ can manipulate the premium they pay to their workers’ compensation insurance carrier. 

Sometimes premium isn’t the only thing manipulated. 

Human trafficking of undocumented workers is a real problem within some industries. 

The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) is proud to welcome guest speaker Cynthia Buchko of the Construction Business Group (CBG) for her presentation, The Intersection Between Workers’ Compensation Fraud & Human Trafficking. 

The Intersection Between Workers’ Compensation Fraud & Human Trafficking
December 15, 2021
12:00 – 1:00 p.m. CDT
Construction Business Group | 608-240-4170 |