Leading on the Issues — 2018
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 the 115th 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.
A Select Congressional Committee has floated it’s “solution” to ensure the solvency of multiemployer pension plans. MCAA and the UA consider the proposal to be flawed and counterproductive for a multitude of reasons and have notified the committee of their opposition to it.
ARCA/MCA Executive Vice President Dick Sawhill and the ARCA/MCA Board made substantial contributions to the MCAA Political Action Committee again this year. This ongoing commitment, along with commitments from several other MCA local affiliate Boards and other groups across the country, ensure that MCAA’s Government Affairs Committee has sufficient resources to deploy on a non-partisan basis to advance key MCAA member interests on Capitol Hill.
MCAA and the UA have partnered with the Society of American Military Engineers (SAME) in a new alliance focused on building our national security by contributing to America’s infrastructure development. The groups will collaborate on workforce development, educating influencers and decision makers, and education and training.
UA General President Mark Mc Manus and MCAA President Mike Brandt submitted joint UA/MCAA comments to the Joint Select Committee on Solvency of Multiemployer Pension Plans. In the comments, they outline the steps that the UA and MCAA have taken, both directly and through our affiliates, to insure the financial health and stability of the multiemployer defined benefit plans in our industry.
MCAA President Mike Brandt joined UA General President Mark McManus in nominating the UA’s Rich Benkowski for an open “Building Expert” position on the U.S. General Services Administration’s Green Building Advisory Committee. As a Training Specialist for the UA/MCAA International Training Fund, Benkowski has been closely involved in the development of the UA/MCAA’s green building and energy efficiency skill training and certification programs. Ash Awad of Seattle-based McKinstry Company represents MCAA on the committee.
In response to a request from the MCAA Board of Directors following discussion of the stalled legislative proposal allowing new Composite Plan options, Horizon Actuarial Services provided an in-depth analysis of Alternative Retirement Plan Designs. The report, authored by actuaries Cary Franklin and Jonathan Feldman, offers a general risk-factor analysis for plan trustees to consider in any more in-depth analysis of particular plan circumstances and plan design options. It focuses on six areas: 1) traditional defined benefit (DB) plans; 2) variable DB plans; 3) cash balance plans; 4) money purchase plans; 5) profit sharing plans; and, 6) proposed new composite plans (not yet enacted into law). Cary Franklin will be making a presentation on this analysis at the National Issues Conference.
MCAA and the United Association filed a joint brief in the Velox Express, Inc. case pending before the National Labor Relations Board. The organizations voiced support for an NLRB Administrative Law Judge’s opinion that worker misclassification itself is an independent violation of workers’ rights under the National Labor Relations Act. The act includes provisions barring employer interference, restraints or coercion with respect to a worker’s right to engage in protected concerted activity.
The construction industry’s multiemployer defined benefit pension system is showing signs of resilience, according to the recently revised Inventory of Construction Industry Pension Plans, MCAA and Horizon Actuarial Services’ groundbreaking analysis of historical trends in pension plans’ key operating data. Roughly 75% of all construction industry multiemployer plans are projected to be fully funded within 15 years according to the inventory, which is based on the annual reports (Form 5500) filed with the Labor and Treasury Departments for Plan Years 2006 through 2015.
All members of the MCA of Detroit’s Board of Directors recently contributed to the MCAA PAC, continuing a long-held tradition of unanimous Board support. The boards of the MCA of Connecticut, M&SCA of Eastern Pennsylvania, MCA of Houston, ARCA/MCA, CPMCA, New England MCA and MCA of South Florida also contributed to the MCAA PAC recently, as have the members of many Peer Groups. This support enables the MCAA PAC to gain MCAA members and our industry a fair hearing in federal public policy decisions.
Looking for the light at the end of the tax reform tunnel? Anthony Nitti will give you the “Nitti-Gritty” on the new tax reform act at MCAA18. His insights and analyses will show you how the changes in the tax law affect your company and your customers.
The long-awaited multiemployer pension reform legislation championed by MCAA, the UA and virtually the entire organized construction community has been introduced in the House by Representatives Phil Roe, M.D. (R-TN) and Donald Norcross (D-NJ). The legislation, H.R. 4997, the Giving Retirement Options to Workers Act of 2018 (GROW Act) is meant to safeguard the multiemployer pension plan system by authorizing the creation of a new type of retirement option – the Composite Plan – that combines the key features of defined benefit and defined contribution plans.
Union representation in the construction industry ticked up slightly in 2017, tallying 14.7% (1.156 million among the 7.844 million total employees) according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The findings are outlined in Union Members 2017, USDL Release 18-0080, Jan. 19, 2018.
Congress is back in session! This is your chance to get in touch with your House representative or Senators about the industry and business issues that concern you. If this is your first time advocating for a cause, a newly revised Management Methods Bulletin is available to show you the ropes.
During the negotiation process of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act at the end of 2017, the tax credit for R&D spending was temporarily removed. Fortunately, MCAA and others worked hard to ensure that, the final bill re-inserted the language for the Research Tax Credit (“RTC”) and made changes that potentially increase the Credit by more than 20%. Learn about how MCAA members are taking advantage of these tax credits on BIM design, change orders and estimates.
The Tax Reform legislation recently enacted by Congress and signed into law transforms the landscape for construction contractors. Check out this summary of provisions important to our industry, compiled by Withum Smith + Brown, PC construction tax experts. And for more detailed information, we will have a workshop on this important topic in San Antonio, so more information to come!
Emily Murphy has been unanimously confirmed by the Senate as Administrator of the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA). As GSA Administrator, Murphy will lead a workforce of 11,600 full-time employees and oversee more than 371 million rentable square feet of property and approximately $54 billion in annual contracts. Murphy is the daughter of MCAA past president Jim Murphy and Mimi Murphy.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) internet reporting rules and overtime pay regulations are under review by the Department of Labor, but two other Obama Administration rules of interest to the industry remain in uncertain status—the non-discrimination and affirmative action requirements for registered apprenticeship programs and the paid sick leave (EO 13706) rules for direct federal prime contractors and subcontractors.
The John W. Danforth Company, a charter member of MCAA and a leading northeast US regional mechanical construction company, hosted a fundraiser for New York Congressman Chris Collins on May 31st in Buffalo, NY. Congressman Collins discussed his amendment in the House-passed health care measure to alleviate the local county tax burden in financing health care subsidies, among other topics. Local area construction firms highlighted issues related to multiemployer pension reform and the need for quick Congressional proactive policy changes.
The MCAA/Construction Employers of America (CEA) Legislative Conference brought together a near record crowd of MCAA members and members of other CEA sponsoring groups. The conference’s education sessions and lobbying meetings focused on key MCAA/CEA legislative issues and provided an opportunity for members to share their views with Senators, Representatives and key staff.
OSHA’s new rule to protect construction workers from overexposure to crystalline silica becomes enforceable on September 23, 2017. Under the right conditions, overexposure to silica can lead to silicosis and other health problems. To help its members protect their workers, MCAA provides several resources. All are free to members as a benefit of membership.
President Trump signed H. J. Res 83, rescinding a controversial change to OSHA’s recordkeeping rule. The rescinded provision extended the statute of limitations for OSHA to issue citations for recordkeeping violations from six months to five years.
MCAA’s Collective Bargaining Seminar aimed at improving bargaining relations, the effectiveness of terms and conditions to improve project performance and achieving the ultimate goal of improving MCAA and UA market share.
Following a multi-year tradition, board of directors’ members for the MCA of Connecticut and the MCA of New England all donated generously to the MCAA PAC. Both associations are among the most consistent supporters of MCAA’s PAC and legislative policy initiatives.
Flat rate premiums for multiemployer pension plans increased by 3.7 percent, rising from $27 to $28, for plan years beginning in 2017.
For the eighth consecutive year, 100% of ARCA/MCA’s Board members have contributed to the MCAA PAC. Increasingly, MCA local affiliates’ boards are supporting the MCAA PAC, allowing MCAA to better meet the legislative challenges facing our industry.