Leading on the Issues
Year after year, you can count on MCAA to take the lead on the issues that make a difference to you and your company. Here are just some of the issues we are working on in Congress to protect your livelihood and set the stage for a bright future. Working in concert with other like-minded associations and with our labor partners at the United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters, MCAA staff is again on the Hill making your voice heard.
MCAA continues to press for new multiemployer pension plan design options for pension trustees to consider - most notably the Composite Plan option, which combines the best features of Defined Benefit plans for plan participants, and the sustainability features of Defined Contribution plans for contributing employers. MCAA also supports technical corrections to the 2014 Kline-Miller Multiemployer Pension Reform Act to allow regulators to more readily approve benefits suspension applications for the 100 or so critical and declining plans, to preserve benefits for plan participants and forestall plan insolvency and mounting insurance claims on the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC). MCAA also works to make sure any eventual PBGC insurance rate increases on multiemployer plans are kept to the minimal extent necessary, and are phased in gradually so as to limit incentive to exit PBGC-insured plans solely because of premium hikes. MCAA also would support low-interest Federal plan programs only to the extent necessary to forestall PBGC insolvency and exorbitant PBGC premium increase on the majority of well-funded construction industry plans.
MCAA supports legislative proposals to increase Federal infrastructure investments, with a fair balance of vertical and building and utility service infrastructure, as well as highways, roads and bridges. Direct Federal appropriations are essential, but given budget constraints, Federal and state cost sharing and public/private partnerships may be essential to meet the government’s need to provide adequate public purpose projects and services. Still, with those alternate financing options MCAA will work to make sure that Federal prevailing wage and workforce development policies are maintained. Davis Bacon should be preserved, Federal contractor selection procedures and other contracting protections (contract provisions providing for equitable adjustments, differing site conditions, warranty provisions, performance and payment bonds) are preserved in those programs to the maximum extent possible. Similarly, MCAA works to preserve public agency options to consider use of project labor agreements on both direct Federal and federally assisted projects as well.
MCAA works to make sure the basic structure of Federal prevailing wage standards is not undermined in separate Federal agency funding bills for traditional direct Federal projects. MCAA also opposes Labor Department administrative or funding changes that would undermine the Davis Bacon wage determination process, or oversight and administrative compliance enforcement by the Labor Department. MCAA aids contractors with specific Davis Bacon project administration issues.
MCAA continues to work to preserve the proprietary discretion allowed to public procurement agencies to consider the beneficial of use of project labor agreements on direct Federal and federally assisted construction projects. MCAA opposes any legislative, regulatory or Executive Order dictate that would remove existing discretion in the Federal Acquisition Regulations permitting Contracting Officers, as a matter of sound acquisition planning and proprietary judgment, to assure adequate project workforce skills and availability to ensure successful project performance.
MCAA continues to work for Federal legislative and regulatory reforms that would curb widespread worker misclassification abuses and clamp down on unfair and illegal competitive advantages for unscrupulous firms in the industry. MCAA defends against proposals that would promote lax worker classification procedures, and supports legislative proposals that would allow tax authorities to set misclassification standards on and industry-by-industry basis, believing that one-size-fits-all industry standards don’t promote unfair competition in the construction industry.
MCAA works to monitor various regulatory initiatives that undermine the benefits of registered apprenticeship programs for MCAA member firms relative to other employers participating in non-regulated industry-certified programs. Moreover, MCAA is working to roll back much of the overregulation put forward by the last Administration’s non-discrimination and written affirmative regulations requirements for registered apprenticeship programs with 5 or more participants.
MCAA opposes Federal executive agency procurement mandates requiring paid sick and family leave payments on direct Federal construction projects. MCAA is working to roll back Executive Order 13706's paid personal time off requirement on direct Federal projects. Moreover, MCAA helps local affiliates address the proliferation of such paid personal time off requirements in state and local jurisdictions across the country. MCAA supports state preemption of various local ordinances in any state, and similarly supports Federal preemption of the various state mandates. MCAA also works to gain exemptions in the various laws or regulations for construction employers with collective bargaining agreements covering project workforces. Similarly, MCAA seeks regulatory exemptions that acknowledge the unique project scheduling and subcontractor work sequencing demands of construction project employment.
MCAA continues to work to repeal the often -delayed Cadillac tax on multiemployer health plans. MCAA continues to look for opportunities to level the playing field in any remaining employer mandate contained in the Affordable Care Act by lowering the employment threshold for the employment mandate in the construction industry to a level that is commensurate with our industry's small business size standards. Similarly, MCAA worked hard to expand tax credits and deductions for energy efficiency retrofits for commercial and industrial facilities, industrial waste heat recovery investments, and to maintain and expand tax credits and expensing for hvac equipment and fire sprinkler installation in commercial and residential facilities.
MCAA opposes various forms of workforce overtime pay/flex-time proposals that would amend established Federal overtime pay requirements and thereby allow opportunities for abuse and avoidance of strict overtime pay requirements for workers.
MCAA recently submitted comprehensive comments in support of the Biden Administration’s proposed comprehensive modernization of the Davis-Bacon and Related Acts regulatory provisions. The comments confirm the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) goal of modernizing the Davis Bacon regulations, citing the accretion of regressive policy implementation over the years that sought to avoid giving proper weight to collective bargaining rates in the Davis Bacon wage survey and wage determination process.
MCAA is conducting a membership survey to gather data to support our claims that improvements in the administration of the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Davis-Bacon rules will improve competitive conditions in the markets for those projects and overall project performance. Please take 10 minutes to support your association’s efforts in this important area of federal construction policy. Survey responses are due by May 9, 2022.
MCAA applauds Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh, Wage and Hour Division Acting Administrator Jessica Looman, and all U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) policy leaders for their work developing well-considered regulatory procedures modernizing U.S. prevailing wage protections for construction workers, responsible employers, government agency construction agencies and programs, and the taxpayers generally. The proposed regulations were published in the Federal Register on March 18, 2022.
Early February saw the release of the first report related to Executive Order (EO) 14025, White House Task Force Report on Worker Organizing and Empowerment. MCAA and the UA provided joint input for the report. MCAA and the Construction Employers of America (CEA) also filed an amicus brief with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) on the topic of worker misclassification. February also marked the publication of an EO requiring project labor agreements (PLAs) on direct federal construction projects. MCAA’s partnerships ensure our members’ voices are heard.
Union representation rates in the construction industry inched up slightly in 2021, increasing to 13.6%, with 1,112, 000 of the 8,157,000 workers “represented” by unions, up from 13.4% in 2020 (993,000 of 1,050,000 employed). Among those 1,112,000 represented by unions, 1,024,000 were classified as union members, leaving some 88,000 (roughly 8%) of the remainder classified as represented by unions (covered by a collective bargaining agreement (CBA)) but not reported as union members.
The Safer Federal Workforce (SFW) Task Force issued updated Frequently Asked Questions based on Office of Management and Budget (OMB) guidance on non-enforcement of vaccination on Federal contracts and subcontracts. The guidance, which applies to those that had been governed by the vaccination mandates in EO 14042, comes after recent court decisions stayed the effectiveness of those rules pending further legal challenges.
Legislative and regulatory developments are picking up pace in Washington, DC, in advance of the Congressional recess. Key issues of interest to MCAA members include vaccination requirements, clean energy, electric vehicle tax credits, and revised Davis-Bacon regulations.
The Safer Federal Workforce (SFW) Task Force issued more detailed compliance guidance for direct Federal prime contractors and subcontractors performing on direct Federal contracts subject to the COVID-19 employee vaccination mandates under the Biden Administration’s Executive Order 14042. MCAA summarizes the November 1, 2021, guidance.
The Trustees of the UA International Training Fund (ITF) are committed to providing a safe and healthy workplace for all employees, instructors, and students participating in training events sponsored by the ITF. To ensure safe and healthy training, the ITF has developed and adopted the following Preparedness Plan.
MCAA has updates to two items relevant to the Biden Administration’s recent COVID vaccination mandates, including a Federal contract clause and guidance on health plan coverage issues relating to vaccinations.
MCAA President Armand Kilijian and UA General President Mark McManus issued a message highlighting the importance of the COVID vaccine to protect not only ourselves and our families, but our jobsites, our fellow members and contractors, and our end users.
MCAA and the UA filed joint comments on a recent Department of Defense (DoD) procurement policy change proposal. Under the proposal, DoD contracting officers would be required to rate the performance of first-tier subcontractors on DoD construction contracts. MCAA and the UA support the proposed rules, which will lead to more discerning past performance evaluations of first-tier subcontractors competing for subsequent prime contract awards. MCAA and the UA also call for DoD and Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR)-wide use of past performance evaluations of first tier subs in all prime contractor responsibility determinations.
Principal Deputy Administrator for the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division Jessica Looman has joined the lineup of speakers for the Construction Employers of America (CEA) legislative and regulatory conference on Wednesday, July 21st from 11:00 am – 3:00 pm EDT. The virtual event will focus on key regulatory and legislative issues affecting the union construction industry today. As with previous in-person conferences, the CEA will host both Regulators and Representatives from Congress for their expertise and insight on a variety of topics.
Pandemic legislation has created significant opportunities for small and medium sized businesses. Rules ever changing, the programs have been shaped time and time again. Spend one hour with Withum experts as they detail some of the programs which have been most beneficial to businesses. The free webinar takes place June 28, 2021 from 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm EDT.
The Construction Employers of America (CEA), of which MCAA is a charter member, will be hosting this year’s legislative and regulatory conference virtually on Wednesday, July 21st, from 11:00 am – 3:00 pm EDT, and it will focus on key regulatory and legislative issues affecting the union construction industry today. As with previous in-person conferences, the CEA will host both Regulators and Representatives from Congress for their expertise and insight on a variety of topics.
MCAA’s Government Affairs Committee offers an update on the latest happenings on Capitol Hill, including a big victory for prevailing wage policy, possible upcoming positive administrative reforms in the federal prevailing wage program, a shift in construction workforce policy in MCAA members’ favor, an update on PBGC grants for critical and declining multiemployer pension plans, and MCAA advocacy for COVID-19 pandemic cost escalation adjustment clauses in federal contracts. The committee remains busy protecting our MCAA members’ interests on Capitol Hill and providing members with the latest information through programming like the virtual MCAA/CEA National Issues Conference slated for July 21 from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. EDT.
MCAA’s Government Affairs Committee offers an update on the latest happenings on Capitol Hill, including tax credits available to employers under the American Rescue Plan (ARP) and the rescinding of the Trump Administration’s pending regulations that would have relaxed safeguards against worker misclassification. The committee remains busy protecting our members’ interests on Capitol Hill.
Effective public policy advocacy and non-partisan political activities go hand-in-hand with a broader suite of association member services at MCAA. When MCAA’s Board of Directors re-instituted MCAA’s Political Action Committee over 20 years ago, they did so with a renewed commitment to building the profile of pipe trades union-signatory employers’ key role in the industry, and in policy deliberations in Washington, DC. That foresight and initiative have paid off and will continue to do so into the future with our members’ and local affiliates’ ongoing commitment to that vision.
What do the multiemployer pension reforms in the Butch Lewis Emergency Pension Plan Relief Act of 2021 (signed into law by President Biden in the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 on March 11, 2021) mean for your company? MCAA’s John McNerney is joined by leading industry experts Earl Pomeroy of Alston & Bird and Josh Shapiro of The Groom Law Group to lay out the details of the law, the questions remaining to be answered in regulations issued by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation in the 1,200 days from enactment, and what it will mean for your plans and the industry overall.
MCAA is among supporters of legislation reintroduced earlier this week that would increase the financial security of federal infrastructure projects. A recent article in Transportation Today highlights the legislation reintroduced by U.S. Sens. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Mike Rounds (R-SD), along with U.S. Sens. Stephen F. Lynch (D-MA) and Troy Balderson (R-OH), Promoting Infrastructure by Protecting Our Subcontractors and Taxpayers Act of 2021.
Horizon Actuarial Services, LLC, and the Groom Law Group will be co-sponsoring a complimentary webinar on the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 provisions for multiemployer pension plans. The webinar, which will address how recent law changes will impact multiemployer pension plans in general, will take place Tuesday, March 23 at 12:00PM EDT. A summary of the changes can also be found on Horizon’s website.
MCAA’s initiative with the MCA of Maryland, the MCA of Metropolitan Washington, the MCA of New York, and the New England Mechanical Contractors Association (NEMCA) is moving ahead with contacts in the House and Senate expanding to seek an add-on proposal in either the next COVID relief measure or possibly on the infrastructure proposal that is expected soon. The proposal is relatively simple – Congress should set up a separate COVID Cost Recovery Fund on direct Federal construction contracts to pay impaired productivity and other COVID direct costs to be administered apart from the affected projects’ budgets. The rationale is that it is inequitable for the government as proprietor of the project to take the full benefit of the fixed-price award pre-COVID and then drive a hard bargain denying full equitable cost impact recovery post pandemic, while at the same time using taxpayer resources to bail out other industries outside of any contractual relationship.
The Democrats in the 117th Congress are pressing the Butch Lewis Emergency Pension Plan Relief Act of 2021 in two phases. The first phase, the American Rescue Plan of 2021, is moving through the reconciliation process in the House and Senate (not subject to filibuster in the Senate). It would provide funding to enable the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) to pay full benefits for plans in critical status (with a funded ratio below 40% and an active to inactive participant ratio of less than 2:3). Funding would also be provided to help critical and declining plans, and those plans that have already cut benefits (or have applications pending) under the 2014 Multiemployer Pension Reform Act (MPRA) benefit suspension procedure.
MCAA’s Government Affairs Committee has been busy protecting our members’ interests on Capitol Hill. Progress is being made on issues such as multiemployer pension plan reform and equitable compensation for COVID cost impacts. MCAA is also working to prevent the misclassification of employees, protect Federal construction contracts against Internet reverse auctions, and support legislation that would expand apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship.