The serious workforce shortage and what can be done about it

Discussion in 'Wireless Estimator Site Discussions' started by Wireless Estimator, Jul 19, 2012.

  1. Wireless Estimator

    Wireless Estimator Administrator Staff Member

    There's a workforce shortage and it could affect project pricing, employee compensation and most importantly, safety. Share your comments in this thread with our many thousands of viewers. Your suggestions can make a difference. (View Article)
  2. PAnative

    PAnative Friend of the Community

    Your turfing contractor PM acknowledged that he became aware of what looked like unapproved subs, but he did nothing. Some of it could be due to the pressure to get the job done, but it's a lack of corporate culture to enforce compliance which is why it still continues.

    I believe that safety directors for "some" of these turfers are deeply dedicated in their desire to prevent injuries and save lives, but safety is the drill down exercise in the morning and in the evening that is overshadowed by an ass kicking by the scheduling morons if the project wasn't completed on time.
  3. SOS synconsite

    SOS synconsite Friend of the Community

    YES! Great article. This is why I love Wireless Estimator, they aren't afraid to publish the issues. This is a real issue that carriers and turfing vendors need to acknowledge, because from my end, I don't see it getting better.

    There are still climbers out there but they want to be paid for being road warriors, and they deserve it! Carriers need to raise their pricing according to demand, but turfing vendors could also look at what they can shave off their cut too.

    Turfing vendors are also beginning to see that just because you award work to some fly-by-night vendor at dirt cheap rates, it doesn't mean the work gets done. Some markets have figured out what happens when you whip crews and bully contract companies with threats too.... they pull out of your market and head for a multitude of other projects.

    There are middle men involved here who have made this mess even LESS profitable and more chaotic... 3T companies who do not have in-house crews, recruiters and con-artists.

    Turfing companies would be better off hiring only 3T companies with verifiable in-house crews. WHY are recruiters and temp-agencies involved with crews?! They can't even figure out my resume half the time and they know nothing about crews! This is just one more layer of pricing that comes out of contractor's pockets and results in less pay for crews and even less funds for safety equipment.

    I have been hit by one of these con-artist companies out of New Jersey and their 'investor' was a known con. Shame on me for not researching them. We need to push these cons out of the business people! They are one of the reasons the former climbers don't want to come back.

    The 90's were tough, but there seemed to be a better handle on things. Carriers hired GCs in-state, they hired CMs and PMs from companies who could read their resumes and speak English and they actually showed up on their sites to make sure safety and quality standards were practiced. Then came turfing...
  4. Janfree

    Janfree Industry Observer

    You are right!!! These guys are journalists and deserve a lot of credit for what they do for our industry. Nobody digs into this stuff like they do.

    It's too bad you got taken by one of the many of swindlers in this business. Why not call them out on the carpet? Why not start a blacklist here?

    I think it is getting better. I believe that judgment day is coming for the turfers. For years they've been able to wield the big stick and you had to jump through hoops for peanuts. Every good company will jump through hoops, but they need to be provided with a fair price from some of the goobers out there.

    The Times, They Are A Changin...:)
  5. Wireless Estimator

    Wireless Estimator Administrator Staff Member

    Thanks for the kind comments regarding our articles and research.

    Regarding a blacklist, we have a policy of not allowing folks to air their concerns with a particular contractor or vendor in the forum.

    They may deserve to be called out, but this is not the venue for it.

    Before committing to any project with a contractor it's important to check references. And I mean a number of them.

    If they're put off by your request, that should be a serious warning sign.

    Also, recently a number of major losses have occurred because companies put their trust in an individual they've known for years and not the company he or she recently relocated to.
  6. Marc LeClair

    Marc LeClair Frequent Poster

    What makes me laugh is all of the ads on the Linked in and Facebook sites. I need 20 this, 50 that.
    Many of them are trolling as illegal recruiters and pretty soon they'll get burnt. Hopefully the person signing up with them wont. None of these companies have an exclusive contract otherwise they would put it in their ad. Companies are too smart for exclusive contracts today and are taking advantage of anyone who says they can provide workers.
  7. Kelly Calders

    Kelly Calders Frequent Poster

    You got it, Marc!!! Great points, sir!

    The days of exclusivity are gone. I don't want to say may they rest in peace because it would be great if you could rely upon a couple of good staffing companies. But there are all sorts of staffing companies entering the marketplace, just as there are many companies that they're hiring or employees that are working for them that have no idea what they're doing.

    My suggestion is to go with a staffing company or contractor that has impeccable credentials.

    Let me add to the Wireless's comments.

    Don't just ask for recommendations from other contractors they have subbed to, ask for the contact information for Verizon or other carriers they can contact that will verify that they did a good job.

    There are lots of bogus companies out there and they'll continue to survive when people don't check them out.

    It's not easy to say, it's your fault, because you didn't pull down their shorts.

    Actually, I take that back. It is easy!!!
  8. robertpirtle

    robertpirtle First Time Poster

    I agree with most of the comments here. But let's not forget that the 2nd and 3rd tier contract companies do not have to accept these rates. There are some higher paying contracts outside the turfing model. I have several clients that will not touch turfing, but sometimes you have to take what you can get, I understand that, but be versatile and bid on the other work as well.

    There is nothing wrong with working for an "agency". I have worked as a field employee through agency and now work directly for one. Yes, you have some crappy ones out there, so here are a few tips on how to distinguish the better ones.

    1. How long have they been placing people doing your line of work? A lot of companies are getting into the tower game, but if they don't know what your job is, they cannot place you in the right positions.

    2.Who is the work for? If it is only with one company and they don't work with anyone else, be wary. This usally means they do "other" positions for this company and were asked to help place tower climbers as well. They will not understand how you differ from an IT person or admin working in an office. So you will get a hard time over perdiems, travel advances etc...

    3. How many people do they have working in your type position already? If the answer is less than 20, walk away. Anyone that has any, ANY idea of what they are doing should have 50 plus people just by backing into them. We have placed 70+ in the last 60 days, and have 100+ positions still to fill, so anyone that has been in the business for a little while should be about the same.

    4. Do they know about PPE, Truck, Tools, Travel? Do they know how those things work in the tower industry?

    5. Are they offering you 1099?? If so.. in all cases you should run.

    6. Have they completed a safety evaluation on the company? What are their EMR values for the last 3 years. Any serious injuries?

    7. Are they promising you work without running a background and a drug screen? This means no one else you are working with has completed one either!

    8. Are they promising you ANY amount of hours? agency has no control over hours worked. It could be 30, 40, 60, who knows. But no one that has been in the industry, I have been for 20+ years, can guarantee you a certain amount of hours. Too much depends on equipment, weather, customers, travel, NTP's, payments, slowdowns, shut downs, a hand failing to show, rotations, truck breaks down, on and on and on.

    9. Do they offer benefits? Most legit agencies offer at least a basic benefits package.

    It is OK to work for an agency. You will get paid weekly, in most cases. You get a foot in the door that you may not be able to get on your own. They are NOT taking a cut of what belongs to the worker. Pay rates are the same and in some cases more.

    There are some 2.78 Million workers in the US alone working through an agency. And it is growing faster than ANY other segment in the US. It is highly regulated and in most cases run by ethical companies.

    But there are some out there that do not know the difference between a climber and a warehouse worker. Those are the ones you need to look out for. So do your research and do not be afraid to ask these questions.

    You can go to (, American Staffing Association, you can see if the agency is a member. If they are, they have made a commitment to hold themselves to a higher standard and each recruiter is tested on federal and state labor laws.
  9. Paul Russell

    Paul Russell Frequent Poster

    Excellent points Robert...the best...No. 5
    5. Are they offering you 1099?? If so.. in all cases you should run.
  10. towerman

    towerman Friend of the Community

    Your story a few months ago was timely and well done. Right now in order to get some of the projects done in time there is a need for hundreds of extra crews.

    The good news is that pricing is going up and contractors are being very lenient with pay terms and other matters. I've seen sign on bonuses as high as $3,000 for climbers and pricing that has gone up 25%.

    Would you believe one turfer was offering net 21? There are still companies out there that are still stuck in the need me to work... mindset. If they keep that up they'll go the way of the Edsel, box cutters on a Bechtel job and the iPhone 4.
  11. texas-pm

    texas-pm Friend of the Community

    Start doing salary surveys so that people can know whats a fair wage for risking your life.
  12. zot64

    zot64 Friend of the Community

    I was recruited as their Qualified Agent Master Electrician! I was then put to work 80+ hours per week and when I tried to make some sort of a life out of it, or explain that it was going to kill me, they ground me into the concrete....weirdest employment experience of my life!
  13. Oklahoma-J

    Oklahoma-J Friend of the Community

    Salary surveys seem like a great idea. Tower climbers wouldn't climb for $15 and hour if they knew that the lazy butts on the ground and in the offices were making $200,000 a year with $100,000 bonuses.
  14. Napster

    Napster First Time Poster

    I just got my authorized certification in climbing and rescue last friday and still have no clue where to go for work, I don't want time spent training going to waste real world experience would be great.
  15. Ginpole ll

    Ginpole ll Industry Observer

    Go to the help wanted section. I think there's like 500 help wanted jobs there.

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