Here we go again. In all of my 33 years working in the roofing industry, the discussion of contractor registration and certification has never been off the table. But now there are things going on in our world that, if local and state authorities pay attention, may bring about changes that many in the industry have been clamoring for these many years.
As the battle rages over our nation’s immigration policy, we are dealing with news that the FBI recently foiled a plot hatched by six Muslim extremists to “kill as many servicemen as they could” at Fort Dix, N.J. Three of the alleged terrorists, Eljvir, Dritan and Shain Duka, operated as roofing contractors out of their home under the names of Qadr Inc., Colonial Roofing and National Roofing. It has been widely reported that the Dukas entered the country through Mexico as children over 20 years ago and have been living here illegally ever since.
Many employer groups have complained that nearly every piece of legislation being put forward to address the issue of border security and illegal immigration call for employers to act as the nation’s gatekeeper. Employers will be held to higher standards in terms of worker documentation. I feel that customers of contractors should be brought to that party as well, but that is another episode of “Oprah.”
There’s one problem with unfriendly folks like the brothers Duka: They are the employer. Doubt that they paid much attention to their hiring practices or paying taxes or insurance. Their local newspaper reported that the Dukas were the contractor of choice for roof repairs on their hometown fire stations beginning in the late 1990s. They lost the work when New Jersey passed a law in 2004 requiring home improvement contractors to register with the state’s consumer affairs division. Seems they never got around to registering.
Not being registered with the state did not put them out of business, but it did curtail their operations. If state and local authorities did a better job of consumer education and policing of their standards, outlaw contractors would eventually be put out of business, or at least greatly diminished. But many state and local governments do not see work such as roof contracting to be worthy of any kind of regulation.
In my view, if the federal government calls on employers to act to enforce immigration law, state and local authorities must step up to qualify who the employers are. In our world, that means that roofing contractors should be qualified and credentialed.
Now that issues of immigration policy and homeland security are on page one, some of the initiatives that roofing contractors have sought for years may actually see the light of day. If you agree, this would be a good time to contact your local or state roofing association to find out how you can help lobby for change.