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.
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.
The $2.3 trillion Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (H.R. 133) provides badly needed COVID economic relief, construction market stimulus and a forward-looking prospect for market recovery in public sector infrastructure investments as the pandemic recedes. In a memo to the MCAA Government Affairs Committee, Chair Jim Gaffney provided a summary digest of the items most likely to impact MCAA members and the MCAA policy agenda. The President is seeking greater individual stimulus checks, so there may be an amendment or veto, but this summary will stand for most of what will be the final result. Correction: The latest COVID relief measure signed into law Sunday does not extend the requirement that employers offer paid sick and family leave as required under the Families First Coronavirus Relief Act passed last March as erroneously reported in the MCAA summary published in the Weekly Update on December 28, 2020. The latest COVID bill extends only the availability of the refundable tax credit as under the FFCRA until the end of March 2021 for those employers voluntarily providing such paid leave after December 31, 2020. MCAA regrets the error.
Experts from Withum’s SBA Financial Services and Tax Services teams navigate through the myriad of provisions included in the more than 5,000 page legislative package finalized mid-December
MCAA joins the coalition of 683 groups (as of December 10, 2020) calling on Congress to pass legislation ensuring that expenses associated with PPP loan forgiveness are tax deductible. We continue to share the letter with colleagues and state/regional/local affiliates, hoping to grow the support and push Congress to enact legislation before the end of the year.
Discover perspectives from around the country when you connect with industry improvement fund trustees and local association executives at the 2020 Industry Improvement Funds Virtual Seminar. Group discussions will provide time to learn from one another about hot-button topics. Legal updates and a legislative and regulatory outlook round out the program. Join us for this free education. Don’t delay – register today!
Withum’s SBA Financial Assistance Services Team held a webinar on November 20, 2020 discussing the latest developments with the SBA Loan Forgiveness Application submissions. We have provided the recording to the webinar along with the presentation slides.
Registration is now open for the 2020 Industry Improvement Funds Virtual Seminar on December 3, 2020 from 11:00am – 1:45pm Eastern. The seminar will provide legal updates and a legislative and regulatory outlook. Group discussions centered around the new norm, engagement, post-COVID actions and collective bargaining agreement extensions will round out the program. Don’t delay, register now for this complimentary education.
In a joint letter to the Department of Labor (DoL) submitted on October 26, 2020, MCAA and the UA requested that the agency withdraw proposed regulations on independent contractor status under the Fair Labor Standards Act (RIN 1235-AA34).
MCAA partner Littler shares information on the U.S. Department of Treasury’s recent guidance for employers with respect to the deferral of the employee portion of certain payroll taxes.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the MCAA Government Affairs Committee has been working tirelessly meeting with countless Congressional and Senate offices remotely to push our agenda forward. This vital work was made possible by PAC contributions to candidates who support our positions over the long term. Please join us in thanking those who gave and consider making a contribution to support these vital efforts.
In March, as a majority of the country slowed down, the MCAA Government Affairs Committee continued to work tirelessly meeting with countless Congressional and Senate office’s remotely to push our agenda forward. The committee has been working on COVID-19 cost increases on Federal projects, change orders in the NDAA, pension issues, and the PBGC just to mention a few.
As the new Senate bill was passed by the House on April 23, 2020, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) gained additional emergency funds. MCAA partners and law firm, Lindabury, McCormick, Estabrook & Cooper, P.C., provide an overview of the program application and loan forgiveness requirements to assist MCAA members.
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) requires certain employers to provide their employees with paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19. The Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division administers and enforces the new law’s paid leave requirements. These provisions are effective on April 1, 2020, and apply to leave taken through December 31, 2020.
The Department of Labor has provided guidance explaining the Paid Sick Leave and Expanded Family Medical Leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. Please note questions 35-37 deal with Multiemployer CBAs but still need more clarification.
Alston & Bird has gathered information and released the Analysis of Funding Streams in the CARES Act. The analysis covers what type of loans are available through the Small Business Administration (SBA), what is new for small businesses under the latest stimulus bill, what is paycheck protection, who qualifies for paycheck protection, what the modified EIDL Program is and how to access it.
The DOL Wage and Hour Division has updated their COVID-19 webpage to include Field Assistance Bulletin 2020-1, announcing a temporary non-enforcement period. Separately, the Wage and Hour Division have released the posters that employers are required to display outlining the rights of federal employees and non-federal employees under the FFCRA.
The following is MCAA’s General Counsel John McNerney’s digest of the recent passing of HR 6201, enacted into law with the President’s signature on March 18, 2020.
The UA and MCAA continue to actively press for balanced multiemployer pension reform this year. In a joint letter to the Senate, the two organizations detailed specific elements of compromise to ameliorate the damaging aspects of the recent Grassley/Alexander proposal. The organizations’ goal is to get multiemployer pension reform back on track for possible enactment this year.
Our industry’s legislative agenda is packed with critical legislation and regulations that will affect your company’s future. The 2020 National Issues Conference provides updates on these issues and a chance to share your concerns about them with your House and Senate representatives. Join us from May 5 – 7, 2020 in Washington, D.C. Your participation is essential to gaining credible outcomes for our industry!