Working in the construction industry since high school, Hermen Valdez’s career took him from Seattle to Houston to Massachusetts, where he was an independent contractor running a crew of twenty. It was also the cause of his slashed tires, marriage ending and false implications that he was engaged in human trafficking.

Misclassification of employees, low wages, lack of benefits, job insecurity, unsafe working conditions and little to no vocational training have led to an industry in something of a crisis. “This is the most complex business problem I’ve ever seen in my life,” says Chuck Gremillion, Executive Director of the Construction Career Collaborative (C3). “It’s not just a workforce problem. It’s a human problem.” He expounds that for decades the industry has confused its people with its tools, treating them with indifference and neglecting their upkeep, then casting them aside when they break down.

This crisis led five industry leaders — the top executives from Vaughn Construction, Marek Companies, W.S. Bellows Construction, Associated General Contractors Houston and Chamberlin Roofing & Waterproofing — to establish a nonprofit initiative called the Construction Career Collaborative (C3) that governs fair treatment of construction workers. A building built with C3 accreditation means that the contractors are paying their employees by the hour as W2-receiving employees, paying for overtime, providing workers’ compensation, safety training and more. C3 has helped Hermen Valdez re-build his life and prepare for his future. Read more about this vital initiative and Hermen’s story.