Category: Advocacy

John W. Danforth Company Hosts Fundraiser for New York Congressman Chris Collins

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.

Danforth company principals, Kevin “Duke” Reilly, CEO and Chairman, along with Robert Beck, President and MCAA Board Member, hosted some 15 Buffalo area construction and engineering firm principals for the meeting with Congressman Collins to discuss his agenda for the constituents of New York’s 27th Congressional District.

Congressman Collins discussed his amendment in the House-passed health care measure to alleviate the local county tax burden in financing health care subsidies. The third-term lawmaker, last elected with 86% of the vote, also discussed his support for the Trump Administration’s economic and tax reform agenda.

The local area construction firms also highlighted issues related to multiemployer pension reform and the need for quick Congressional proactive policy changes. As presented to Congressman Collins, these changes are needed to forestall a crisis in the multiemployer system for pension plan contributing employers in the Buffalo area and nationwide.

MCAA/CEA Legislative Conference Focuses on Key Issues

The MCAA/Construction Employers of America (CEA) Legislative Conference brought together a near record crowd of MCAA members and members of other CEA sponsoring groupsm SMACNA, FCA International and TAUC. 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.

Lobbying Meetings Press Coalition’s Top Issues

Member company principals had some 160 Hill lobbying meetings with Senators, Representatives and key staff, pressing for the MCAA/CEA coalition’s top issues:

    1. Prompt and long-overdue enactment of multiemployer pension plan reform, including composite plan designs as an option for plan trustees to consider;
    2. Implementation of a broad new infrastructure investment measure, with protections for prevailing wage standards and consideration of project labor agreements for those projects;
    3. Enactment of energy efficiency tax incentives for building retrofits and waste heat recovery industrial projects; and
    4. Tax reform measures that spur private capital facility projects and use worker misclassification reform as a budgetary pay-for measure to fund corporate and Subchapter S tax cuts.

Proposed Changes to Pension, Health and Welfare and Apprenticeship Programs

Josh Shapiro and Cary Franklin at the MCAA/CEA Legislative Conference

The conference kicked off on Tuesday, May 10 with a regulatory policy program covering proposed changes to pension, health and welfare and apprenticeship programs. Josh Shapiro from Groom Law Group and Cary Franklin from Horizon Actuarial Services discussed pension reform and alternate plan de-risking measures available under current legal requirements.

Carolyn Smith and Aruna Vohra at the MCAA/CEA Conference

They were followed by Aruna Vohra (right) from Horizon and Carolyn Smith from Alston & Bird law firm, who discussed the myriad of health care plan changes pending on Capitol Hill.

John McNerney and Lou Malone at the MCAA/CEA Conference

After that, Lou Malone (right) from the O’Donoghue law firm and MCAA General Counsel John McNerney discussed the non-discrimination and written affirmative action requirements pending under the new Administration.

Lawmaker Presentations Mark Start of Second Day

Former Congressman Earl Pomeroy at the MCAA/CEA ConferenceThe next day, participants ventured to the offices of Hogan Lovells in downtown D.C. Former Congressman Earl Pomeroy of Alston & Bird, a consultant to the National Coordinating Committee for Multiemployer Plans (NCCMP), moderated a series of presentations from lawmakers, including Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS), Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), Representative Chris Collins (R-NY-27), and Representative Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA-8).

Senator Pat Roberts at the MCAA/CEA Legislative Conference

Representative Chris Collins (R-NY-27) at the MCAA/CEA Legislative ConferenceRep. Brian Fitzpatrick at the MCAA/CEA Conference

Union Representatives and Employers Discuss Pension Reform

Congressman Pomeroy also moderated a panel discussion among union representatives and employers on the key issue of pension reform. The union representatives included: Sheet Metal Air Rail and Transportation Workers General President Joe Sellers, Painters and Allied Trades General President Ken Rigmaiden, Iron Workers General President Eric Dean, and United Association Assistant to the General President Brad Karbowsky, along with Jeff Green, CEO of Harris Rebar Construction and an NCCMP board member.

The panelists allied in strong support of the necessity for enactment of the composite plan design option for trustees to consider for their plans, and the need to avert a Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp insolvency or premium increases that would imperil the sustainability of multiemployer plans.

Lobbying Meetings Deliver Key Messages to Lawmakers

That afternoon, conference participants set out for the Senate and House lobbying meetings, delivering direct messages from member company principals to key offices from the lawmakers’ home districts. At the debriefing session the following morning, consensus reports were that home district constituents did a good job delivering the coalition’s messages directly to their representatives.

Tax Reform Discussion Closes Out the Conference

Jamie Wickett at the MCAA/CEA ConferenceThe conference wrapped up with a comprehensive discussion of tax reform by Hogan Lovells tax expert Jamie Wickett. He discussed proposals affecting CEA member companies as taxpayers and businesses, and the impact of corporate tax reforms on corporate capital budgets and projects as market expansion incentives for CEA member companies.

Join Us Next Year!

Mark your calendar and plan to join us for the next conference, which is scheduled for May 8-10, 2018 in Washington, D.C.

MCAA Resources Will Help You Prepare for Enforcement of OSHA’s Silica Rule

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 the following resources:

All of these resources are available free to members as a benefit of membership. Access any of them individually using the direct links above, or click the button below to see all of them in the Resource Center. They’re free to members as a benefit of membership.

MCAA Silica Resources

Controversial OSHA Recordkeeping Rule Provision Rescinded

 

The President signed into law H. J. Res 83, a resolution of disapproval 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 and other industry stakeholders insistently lobbied Congress in support of the joint resolution. The resolution not only rescinds the controversial provision, but bars OSHA from issuing a similar provision or rule in the future. The six-month statute of limitations was originally established by Congress in the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970.

Gaining Market Share was Goal of Collective Bargaining Seminar

MCAA’s 2016 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.

Starting off the conference was Richard Barnes, former Director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS). He led a panel discussion with Dave Davia of the MCA of Colorado and Frank Wall of PMCA of Oregon concerning their efforts with their local UA partners to address bargaining issues, improve labor relations and affect project owner and public agency industry issues on behalf of their members who share a strong interest in gaining market share.

Carey Peters, Director of the Construction Labor Research Council (CLRC), detailed ways to track wage and benefits settlements and trends, assess competing open shop wage and benefit levels and trends, analyze the costs of terms and conditions of the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) and objectively assess market share in local areas. This information will be used as a strong factual predicate for sound mutual interest bargaining for labor and management to accurately assess and improve market performance and market share.

Comprehensive Legal Analysis in Three Parts

Relying on the in-depth legal analysis in the 2016 Edition of the MCAA/Ice Miller Collective Bargaining Guide and Legal Analysis that was provided to conference attendees in advance of the conference, Mike Boldt and Ryan Poor, partners of the Ice Miller law firm (Indianapolis, IN), divided their comprehensive legal presentation into three discrete parts:

  • The legal structure of the multiemployer bargaining unit and the legal structure of bargaining relationships;
  • The legal do’s and don’ts of typical CBA terms and conditions; and,
  • Advanced topics in CBA and CBA employment administration, including OSHA rules and drug testing, wage-and-hour rules pertaining to workers’ travel, negotiating project specific CBA’s and a number of other topics.

New laws and Labor Department Regulations

Five new Labor Department initiatives that will impact collective bargaining, employment administration and trust fund implementation in the coming year were covered.

Proposed new written affirmative action regulations for registeredmalone apprenticeship programs were detailed by UA and International Training Fund counsel Lou Malone and MCAA General Counsel John McNerney. Unless regulatory impediments surface after the election, employers and apprenticeship programs can expect to adapt to new written affirmative action plan requirements for registration of women, minorities and workers with disabilities into JATC programs during the coming year.

U.S. Department of Labbatistaor (DoL) officials briefed the conference on a variety of new regulations set to come out next year and possibly in 2018. Bob Batista, former Chairman of the National Labor Relations Board, introduced a panel of officials from the Labor Department, including Sharon Block, Senior Counsel to the Secretary of Labor.  Ms. Block noted that the Administration’s Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order (EO13673) had recently been suspended by a federal court in Texas.  She also said that the EO was expected to beblock pushed forward again in the future.  The DoL Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy addressed the group and noted MCAA’s participation in several of the DoL procurement-related rulemakings over the past year and a half.

Jreesonathan Rees and Sarah Marcus from the DoL Solicitor’s Office and Amy DeBisschop and Bill Isokait from the DoL Wage and Hour Division detailed the new EO13706 Paid Sick and Family Leave regulations affecting direct federal prime contractors and subcontractors. The new regulations will begin to take effect on new contractmarcuss entered into on and after January 1, 2017.  Vigorous discussion of ways to implement that new set of requirements centered on whether covered employers would want to implement the new paid time off rules as individual employers or under a Taft-Hartley benefit plan.

MCAA will be presenting a webinar with the Groom Law Group on the new rules in mid-November. Additional guidance on compliance options will be presented at that time.

The new Llujanabor Department Mega Construction Project affirmative action program was described in detail by Theresa Lujan, Director of the Mega Project Initiative in the Office of Federal Contract Compliance programs (OFCCP). She noted that 11 of the 37 mega project programs currently in effect involve some aspects of project labor agreements and community workforce development programs.

Pension Reform

shapiroThe conference ended with discussions about pension reform, alternate plan de signs and plan liability issues. Josh Shapiro, an actuary, and Malcolm Slee an attorney with the Groom Law group led a discussion session on multiemployer pension plan issues and what legislation and their prospects bargaining parties and contributing employers should anticipate for new sleecomposite plan options, increased Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp premium increases and other specific plan liability developments.  Shapiro also discussed pension plan asset return assumptions, developments relating to the use of new mortality tables for actuarial assumptions and a variety of multiemployer plan withdrawal liability issues.  Slee discussed prospects for changes to the Affordable Care Act by the new Congress as well as benefit plan implementation of the new regulations requiring paid sick leave on direct federal construction prime contracts and subcontracts.

Connecticut, New England MCAs Deliver Strong Support of MCAA PAC

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.

MCAA PAC resources will be especially important in the upcoming 115th Congress as our industry will be faced with challenging legislative and regulatory policy initiatives that will require a high profile with decision makers on key industry issues. Gaining access to policy makers on both sides of the aisle concerning our issues will be critical to passage of the legislation we need to keep our industry strong and thriving.

 

 

PBGC Multiemployer Plan Premiums Increased $1 for Plan Years Beginning in 2017

Flat rate premiums for multiemployer plans increased by 3.7 percent, rising from $27 to $28.

The increase is the result of the COLA escalator added to the PGBC premium mechanism in the Multiemployer Pension Reform Act of 2014. The next question will be how much more Congress may increase the basic PBGC premium to address the likelihood that PBGC’s multiemployer premium fund will become insolvent within 10 years, unless some effective way is found to staunch the growing claims on PBGC’s multiemployer insurance fund by the growing number of critical and declining plans.

The issues relating to PBGC premiums are separate and distinct from MCAA’s efforts in the National Coordinating Committee for Multiemployer Plans’ (NCCMP) Solutions Not Bailouts coalition to gain enactment of greater options for multiemployer plan trustees to devise composite plan structures that will help avoid insolvencies in the future.  The composite plan options are merely options for trustees to consider; they are not mandatory and will be subject to individual plan fiduciary decision-making.

For more information, go to PBGC premium rates.

All ARCA/MCA Board Members Contribute to MCAA’s PAC for Eighth Consecutive Year

A high profile PAC operation, closely targeted to concrete results, is an essential part of any effective advocacy program. In recent years, MCAA member company principals have also become directly involved in high profile PAC-supported events and ongoing Washington meetings with administrative agencies concerning a broad range of regulatory policy challenges proposed by the Obama Administration.

MCAA PAC’s mission is simple but vital — to achieve a fair hearing on federal policy issues affecting MCAA members and our industry. Our strategy is to continue combining sound and vigorous public policy representation and advocacy with the increasing use of appropriate political activity.

Through the efforts of MCAA’s Government Affairs Committee, the progress of key issues is tracked along with the actions of elected legislators and candidates who have a record of supporting issues of vital interest to MCAA members and the industry.  The Committee, as part of its oversight responsibility for the MCAA PAC, judges which legislators and candidates to support based on local affiliate recommendations. The MCAA PAC is bipartisan.

If you would like to make a contribution to the MCAA PAC or learn more about how it works, go to MCAA PAC.

 

 

UA EVP Rick Terven Testifies at House Hearing on Composite Pension Plans

United Association Executive Vice President Rick Terven testified before the House Education and Workforce Committee on September 22nd on Chairman John Kline’s proposals to modernize multiemployer pensions.

In his testimony, Terven stressed that “If composite plans are not made available, we believe that many existing defined benefit plans will eventually be replaced with defined contribution plans. The opportunity for creative solutions to our retirement income challenges is within our grasp. We strongly encourage Congress to take advantage of it and expand available offerings to enable labor and management to find solutions which best meet their specific needs.”

Read Terven’s testimony.

The Committee press release answering questions on the Chairman’s proposal can be found here. The discussion draft, which was released two weeks ago, contains new multiemployer composite plan designs that were part of the Solutions Not Bailouts proposals held back when the Kline-Miller pension reform law was enacted in 2014. The composite plans were developed by the National Coordinating Committee for Multiemployer Plan’s Retirement Income Security Review Commission, which included MCAA and the United Association.

Chairman Kline has invited interested parties to provide input into the draft’s features. He has also requested comments and proposals on how to shore up funding for the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) multiemployer plan insurance fund, which is headed for insolvency within 10 years without major changes to its program and insurance premium funding.

In releasing the discussion draft Chairman Kline stated:

“For years, the committee has worked on a bipartisan basis to improve multiemployer pensions and safeguard the retirement security of workers and retirees. We have already made significant progress, and the draft proposal released today represents the next step in this important effort.

This proposal will provide more retirement choices for workers, more flexibility for employers, and greater protection for taxpayers. It reflects the input of business and labor leaders, as well as retiree advocates who have long recognized the need to strengthen the retirement security. I encourage other concerned individuals to share their views and ideas.

There is still a lot of work to be done, including tackling the fiscal challenges facing the PBGC. Improving the multiemployer pension system is an urgent priority for employers and labor leaders that will benefit America’s workers and taxpayers. I hope my colleagues in the House and Senate will make it an urgent priority as well.”

The composite plans are new plan design options that plan sponsors can choose to adopt or not in plan amendments. The discussion draft envisions adoption of a composite plan by amendment to a traditional multiemployer defined benefit plan that suspends future accruals into the former (legacy) plan (Red Zone plans cannot convert). All future accruals then flow into the new composite plan.

In the new composite plan, annual one-year and 15-year funding projections must maintain 120% funding. Shortfalls must be addressed by added contributions, future accrual cuts, and other benefit adjustments to meet the 120% funding safeguard. The legacy plan also must be funded under current funding rules, and there are minimum funding requirement contributions for all employers that enter the composite plan.  And, because the benefits in the composite plan are not insured by PBGC, no PBGC premiums are paid on those participants. Legacy plan participants still pay the PBGC premiums at whatever new higher level may be imposed.

The UA and MCAA also submitted a joint statement of support to lawmakers on Capitol Hill. Chairman Kline’s call for urgent Congressional action is fully warranted, as the composite plan models have been thoroughly vetted in Congress over the past several years.  Action this year will stem the need for consideration by the next Congress, which would take a year or more, and thereby diminish the remedial benefits of the composite plan model for the entire system.  MCAA, the UA and the NCCMP coalition continue to press lawmakers to honor Mr. Kline’s perseverance on this most important issue and to heed his call for timely and effective action this year, even though time is short.

UA and MCAA Discuss Affirmative Action Issues with DoL Compliance Officials

The UA’s Director of Training Chris Haslinger and MCAA General Counsel John McNerney gave a 90- minute presentation to the Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) on September 22, 2016. The presentation covered jointly administered training programs, collective bargaining agreement worker dispatch practices, hiring hall operations and MCAA member hiring procedures.

The program was the first ever training program related to OFCCP’s upcoming emphasis on Executive Order 11246, which deals witth compliance and enforcement of affirmative action outreach and non-discrimination requirements for women, minorities, veterans and individuals with disabilities foprime contractors and subcontractors on direct federal and federally assisted mega construction projects.

This MCAA and UA outreach grew out of the organizations’ collaboration and joint comments to DoL on new written affirmative action program requirements and a number of other DoL regulatory initiatives put forth by the outgoing Administration.

 

MCAA Supports Challenge to NASA FOIA Shield on Prevailing Wage Audit

MCAA Government Affairs Committee Chairman Bill Albanese and Committee member Jim Gaffney joined in support of the Foundation for Fair Contracting’s (FFC) challenge of an over-broad Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) shield by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to withhold certified payrolls in a prevailing wage audit on a NASA job in Greenbelt, MD.

FFC requested certified payroll information on two firms performing on the NASA job. NASA redacted the wage rate information on the certified payroll records, citing an FOIA exemption that permits agencies to refuse disclosure of information or documents that would reveal trade secrets and commercial or financial information considered privileged and confidential.

NASA’s rationale was that revealing actual wages paid to contractor employees on prevailing wage jobs could be used by competitors to predict future bids and estimates and, therefore, undercut that firm’s future competitive position.

MCAA members Albanese and Gaffney filed affidavits in conjunction with FFC’s administrative appeal explaining why the certified payroll information could not be used to predict future project labor estimates and bidding.

MCAA-Backed Small Business Subcontracting Protections Added to SBA and FAR Regulations

The latest regulatory notice affecting the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) provides 11 changes to the small business subcontracting plan procedures required of prime contractors on covered prime contracts ($1.5 million or more), the most significant of which is the subcontractor listing and payment protections.

The prime contractor must make demonstrable good faith efforts to use the same small business subcontractors they relied on in preparing and presenting their bid, proposal and small business utilization plan to the contracting agency for approval.

If the prime contractor fails to utilize the relied-upon small business subcontractors, the prime must provide a written explanation to the contracting agency within 30 days of contract completion. Failure to use the named subs can be the basis for future adverse prime contract performance evaluations and responsibility determinations.

The regulations also prohibit prime contractors from attempting to bar small business subcontractors from discussing subcontract plan compliance or prime contract payment problems with the contracting agency directly.

The regulations also require that prime contractors notify the contracting officer in writing if they pay a small business subcontractor a reduced amount or if payment is held more than 90 days after the prime has been paid.

And, any record of payment violations is to be recorded in the prime contractors’ past performance evaluation in the Federal Awardee Past Performance information System (FAPPIS).

MCAA testified in support of these provisions on May 23, 2013 before the House Small Business Committee. Read the testimony here.

Access the new regulations.

Local Association Boards Support MCAA-PAC

The annual round of MCAA local affiliated association summer board meetings continues to bring strong support for the national MCAA Political Action Committee (MCAA-PAC).  All members of MCA of New Jersey’s board of directors just contributed to the MCAA-PAC. The MCA of Connecticut, ARCA-MCA, CPMCA and the MCA Kansas City, among others, also have 100% board participation.  Last year, the Association Executives Council (AEC) also responded with strong participation by local affiliate executives. The MCAA Board of Directors members have contributed generously to the MCAA-PAC. With multiemployer pension reform leading MCAA’s legislative priorities, participation levels have increased markedly.  Lend your support to MCAA advocacy efforts by contributing to the MCAA-PAC by making a contribution today.

ASHRAE President Tim Wentz to Attend MCAA 2017

Timothy G. Wentz, associate professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, winner of MCAA’s highest honor – the Distinguished Service Award – and a three-time winner of MCAA’s Educator of the Year Award, became the 2016-2017 president of the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) during its annual conference in St. Louis, MO June 25-29.

He’s been preparing for this leadership role for many years as chairman of ASHRAE’s Members Council and President-Elect Advisory Committee and a member of the Chapter Volunteerism and Engagement Ad Hoc Committee and the Building Performance Alliance Ad Hoc Committee.

During this past year, Wentz has traveled to all corners of the world visiting and speaking to ASHRAE chapters and attending technical conferences.

MCAA is honored that President Wentz will participate in MCAA 2017 in San Diego, CA!

Prompt Payment Requirements Now in Effect

Small business subcontracting payment protections supplement those already in place in the Federal Prompt Payment Acts of 1982 and 1988 for construction subcontractors.

Those requirements (Far Part 52.232-5) require the prime contractor to pay the subcontractor within seven days of the prime’s receipt of payment for the subcontractors’ work.

The law permits the prime to impose retainage on the sub and permits withholding for written cause for specific performance deficiency. Interest is payable on late payments after seven days; interest accrues on payments withheld for cause after seven days as well. The payment rules affect all subcontractors on the covered project.

In addition, the Obama Administration has issued supplementary guidance to the Prompt Payment Act (PPA) calling for accelerated payments to small business prime contractors and subcontractors within 15 days of the contracting agency’s receipt of an invoice (the PPA permits agencies to take 30 days from receipt to pay the prime).

Click below to access OMB memos extending the accelerated payment procedures through December 2016.

OMB Memorandum

OMB Memorandum

PBGC Issues Reports on Future Status of its Multiemployer Plan Insurance Fund

The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) recently issued two reports underscoring its multiemployer plan insurance fund’s precarious position, predicting that complete insolvency is more likely than not by 2025, if not sooner.

The PBGC reports (PBGC MPRA Report, and FY2015 PBGC Projections Report) call for substantial if modulated minimum level premium increases as follows . . . “for the longer-term PBGC solvency scenarios, all four scenarios require a very substantial increase from the current $27 per participant premium rate, ranging from a 363 percent increase to a 552 percent increase.” They acknowledge that higher rate increases raise the likelihood of driving greater numbers of financially challenged plans into insolvency – compounding the need for further PBGC premium increases.

The reports offer some discussion of the Administration’s budget proposal for Congress to allow PBGC to set its own premiums, charge additional new risk-based premiums on multiemployer plans, and to charge an “exit” fee on sponsoring employers (not paid out of plan assets) to shore up PBGC resources.

In all this, there is little discussion on the impact of these measures on the competitiveness of plan sponsoring employers, or the tendency of PBGC premium issues and uncertainty to push sponsoring employers and plans out of the defined benefit system.

On these points, the PBGC MPRA report says: “Given the scale of the necessary premium increases, their design and structure are critical. A well-designed increase may encourage additional contributions, encourage continued participation in plans, and strengthen the multiemployer system. A poorly designed premium increase may encourage employer withdrawals and accelerate plan insolvency with a resulting cost to plan participants and a need for even larger premiums.”

House Education and Workforce Chairman John Kline (R-MN-2)(retiring), the leading proponent of the MCAA and NCCMP-backed composite plan proposal, cited the PBGC fiscal challenge as yet one more instance of the imperative need for Congress to modernize the multiemployer system. MCAA and the entire NCCMP Retirement Security Reform Coalition continue to press for new composite plan design options to be enacted by Congress.

Click here for the PBGC reports.

CEA Submits Construction Industry Priorities to National Party Platforms

Last week, the Construction Employers of America (CEA), of which MCAA is a member, submitted a list of construction industry policies to the national Democrat and Republican Parties to consider for inclusion in their platforms during their upcoming conventions.

In introducing these proposed policies, CEA explained that it “works to strengthen the construction industry and provide opportunities for top-quality construction workers to learn and maintain the skills they need to deliver highly productive, quality workmanship that provides the best value to project owners while earning high-value compensation and benefits for themselves, their families and their communities.”

The proposed policies would:

  • promote sound infrastructure policies;
  • modernize retirement plan options;
  • prepare the next generation of skilled workers;
  • invest in energy efficient buildings;
  • enhance manufacturing efficiency;
  • support responsible employers through bid listing; and
  • close the employee misclassification loophole.

Read the full policy proposals

Labor Department “Persuader” Rules Enjoined for Now

The Department of Labor (DoL)  issued new rules pertaining to reporting by labor relations consultants and counsel relative to “persuader” activity, which were to take effect on July 1, 2016.

Instead, a federal court issues a national injunction staying the rules for now while further challenges develop.

The Landrum-Griffin law previously required labor relations consultants hired by management to address employees in union organizing campaigns primarily to meet Landrum-Griffin reporting requirements. DoL has broadened those rules to conceivably include legal counsel advice to employer bargaining teams in collective bargaining negotiations, or representation at the bargaining table, beyond consultants’ basic role of addressing employees in an organizing context.

Prior legal challenges to enjoin the rules’ broader coverage of legal advice have failed, but legal challenges on eventual enforcement will continue. The reporting burden falls on the consultant and the association.

Most MCA and UA local agreements and relations are in the context of voluntary recognition construction prehire agreements, so the organizing context of the “persuader” rules are inoperative in the prehire agreement context. Check with your local labor counsel to determine whether this rule change might affect your working relationship with counsel for labor relations or collective bargaining. Click here to download a powerpoint from an Ice Miller webinar on the new requirements.

Bolton Meets with Secretary of Labor Tom Perez

Bob Bolton, a member of the MCAA Board of Directors and the MCAA Government Affairs Committee, discussed the recent Treasury Department decision to veto the Teamster Central States remedial benefit suspension proposal with Labor Secretary Tom Perez at a recent Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce event in Providence, RI.

Bolton raised the issue of the potential impact of Treasury Department Special Master Ken Feinberg’s reevaluation and denial of the Teamster Central States remedial plan and its potentially devastating impact on the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) multiemployer plan insurance fund. He also noted the devastating PBGC premium increases on all well-funded plans in other industries.

In response, Mr. Perez said that the Administration was carefully analyzing the impact on PBGC premiums and the collateral effects on healthy plans in other industries on an ongoing basis. Bolton attended the Rhode Island event just after lobbying the pension reform issue at the MCAA/Quality Construction Alliance National Issues Conference in Washington, DC.

National Issues Conference Attendees Focused on Critical Industry Issues

Close to 200 contractors and association executives attended the 2016 MCAA/QCA National Issues Conference in Washington, DC, last week to get the latest information on critical industry issues and to share their concerns about those issues with their Senate and House members.

During the three-day conference, over 120 visits took place between MCAA and Quality Construction Alliance (QCA) members and Congressional Representatives and Senators.

A long list of House and Senate representatives made this conference a success, briefing attendees on a wide range of issues affecting MCAA and allied association members’ business concerns.

Issues included:

  • A new bill to stem payroll fraud stemming from misclassifying employees as independent contractors from lead Representative Tom MacArthur (R-NJ);
  • Federal Infrastructure funding measures by Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), Congressman Lou Barletta (R-PA) and Representative John Delaney (D-MD);
  • Congressman Peter Welch (D-VT) addressed energy policy legislation; and
  • Representative David McKinley (R-WV) described the formation of the new bipartisan Congressional Building Trades Caucus.

The Conference also focused on recent critical regulatory developments. This part of the program consisted of three expert panel discussions which detailed developments on the Administration’s pending regulations to:

  • Require registered apprenticeship programs to file annual written affirmative action plans showing apprentice enrollment of women and minorities and the relation of that utilization rate to the availability of women and minorities in the apprenticeship recruitment area;
  • Executive Order 13673, requiring prime contractors and subcontractors competing for federal contracts and subcontracts of $500,000 or more to file legal compliance certifications for pre-award responsibility reviews; and
  • Executive Order 13706, requiring federal prime contractors and subcontractors to provide one hour of paid sick/family leave for every 30 hours their employees work directly on or related to (20% or more) a covered federal contract or subcontract.

All of the attendees enjoyed remarks from CNN news commentator and analyst Gloria Borger as she discussed the 2016 political scene.

mcgarveyThe program concluded with a strong address by Sean McGarvey, president of the North America Building Trades Unions, on:

  • The broad scope of NABTU (formerly BCTD) initiatives with owner/labor/management tripartite market councils;
  • Workforce development pre-apprentices outreach efforts to incorporate under-served potential workers into the construction industry;
  • Initiatives for economically targeted investments by pension plans to earn high return and support union construction; and
  • Ways to focus project owner/financing groups on collaborative efforts with the union-sector delivery system.

President McGarvey made very positive remarks on industry pension reform phase 2 efforts.

Pension and health plan benefits experts Cary Franklin and Aruna Vohra from Horizon Actuarial Services and Malcolm Slee and Josh Shapiro from Groom Law Group discussed a broad scope of tough challenges for attendees’ health and pension plans from the perspectives of either contributing employers or plan trustees.

The 2017 MCAA/QCA National Issues Conference will take place May 2-4, 2017, at the Marriott Georgetown Hotel in Washington, DC. So save the date!