Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order Struck Down by Federal District Court

Legal compliance certifications by federal contractors set to take effect on October 25 (for prime contracts of $50 million or more) are enjoined from taking effect nationally in a temporary restraining order issued by Judge Marcia A. Crone of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas in the Associated Builders and Contractors of Southeast Texas et al  v. Anne Rung, Administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy et al (Civil Action No. 1:16-CV-425) court case.

The court’s decision to grant the nationwide preliminary injunction against implementation of the regulations centered on the Executive Order’s (EO) terms and regulations that require covered direct federal prime contractors and subcontractors to include federal and labor law enforcement agency “administrative merits determinations” among the reportable events in the required three-year (updated every six months) legal compliance certification of covered firms.

The court detailed how often and frequently NLRB, EEOC, OFCCP and OSHA and Wage and Hour Division initial enforcement and preliminary findings of violations are overturned later in further agency review or appeals or court challenges to initial preliminary findings.  Because of the tenuous nature of these preliminary findings, and the lack of any direct connection to substantiate a non-responsibility determination under the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) contractor responsibility determination process, the court held that the EO’s requirements were an arbitrary and capricious exercise of authority under procurement rulemaking procedures and violated subject firms’ First Amendment rights (not to disclose potential injurious non-material, non-final rulings) and Fifth Amendment Due Process protection for the same reasons.

In essence, the court said federal contractors cannot be forced to disclose publicly potentially injurious information in the federal contracting process that may be ultimately misleading.  The firms have a constitutional right to protect their business reputation from misleading information that could be injurious to their business reputation in the end without final substantiation.  The court also struck down the EO’s ban on employer requirements for mandatory acceptance of arbitration procedures for certain Title VII sex discrimination claims and sexual assault charges in the workplace, even before any dispute or challengeable event occurs.  The court let stand the parts of the EO that require federal contractors to advise workers of their classification as independent contractors on covered projects.

MCAA had supported the broad outlines of the EO’s requirement for more consistent procedures reviewing legal compliance in the contractor responsibility determination process.  MCAA succeeded in having the Labor Department review whatever compliance certifications were required of subcontractors, rather than leaving that issue to the prime contractors to determine at the time the subcontracts are signed, as was originally proposed.  MCAA had argued in written comments and in the final regulatory review meeting at the Office of Management and Budget that the regulations should drop the requirements of disclosing mere “administrative merits determinations” as a way to mitigate the problem with non-final reportable events and to shore up the defensibility of the EO.

This entire episode recapitulates the Contractor Responsibility Regulations issued in the final days of the Clinton Administration.  Those regulations were issued in the form of FAR regulatory proposals, not an EO, but were very similar in scope and procedure to the EO13673 regulations.  The issues and legal challenges were the same.  Issued in late 2000, and set to go into effect on January 19, 2001, the regulations were quickly put on hold by the incoming Bush Administration and then rescinded in the formal regulatory process later in 2001.  So, the political nature of the process and the proposal begins to repeat itself.

In summary, one view states that sound procurement policy requires greater and more particular contracting agency cognizance of potential firms’ legal track records. The opposing view states that current procedures require general review of legal compliance with respect to just past public contracts is sufficient to protect the taxpayers’ interest against federal contract problems stemming from awarding federal contracts to demonstrably non-responsible firms.  It would seem that given the slow outcome of the issue in the courts, and the breadth of the District Court’s holding striking down the EO – the fate of these latest “responsible contractor” rules will be left to the new Administration taking office in January.

Read court’s opinion here.

MCAA’s PAC Continues Strong Support for New Jersey Rep. Donald Norcross

MCAA PAC participated in a fundraiser with MCA of Eastern Pa and other construction groups on October 25 for New Jersey Congressman Donald Norcross (D-1-NJ), who is seeking re-election to a third term in the House.  Congressman Norcross has supported the MCAA-backed pension reform bill and he is a staunch backer of the NCCMP’s Solutions Not Bailouts proposal, composite plan options for trustees to consider.

That measure continues to move in Congress along with the Composite Plan Discussion Draft published by House Education and Workforce Chairman John Kline that is currently under active discussion in key committees.

Congressman Norcross is a founding member of the Congressional Construction Caucus, having been an IBEW local business manager in New Jersey before his election to Congress.  Reflecting intimate knowledge of the union-signatory side of the construction industry, Congressman Norcross is a leading co-sponsor of the Clarify Workers Misclassification in the Construction Industry Act (H.R. 5008), which would direct the Secretary of the Treasury to initiate and enforce initiatives aimed at increasing tax compliance in the construction industry.  The measure calls for consultation with industry employer groups and labor organizations, targeted tax audits of firms for compliance reviews, civil and criminal enforcement actions, and orders workers to be classified as employees or independent contractors under common law employment classification rules despite existing tax code safe harbors for persistent misclassification.

Construction worker misclassification reforms have been near the top of MCAA’s priorities since association representatives first testified on the issue before the House Ways and Means Committee in 1995 and 1996.  Congressman Norcross’s industry-specific approach is a very constructive way to break the longstanding log jam in Congress on this issue caused by other industries’ interests and differences in workers classification practices in IT, services, real estate sales and other employment contexts.


Smart Solutions Focuses on 13 Lucky Mechanical Contractors

Check out the latest edition of Smart Solutions which spotlights a lucky 13 mechanical contractors who found their win-win. By partnering with members of MCAA’s Manufacturer/Supplier Council, these companies found innovative ways to meet their client’s needs while improving productivity, cutting costs and saving time on the job.

The current issue of Smart Solutions tells the full story of these success stories, but the following provides a glimpse into how these companies turned a good idea into a profit-making outcome.

  1. All Area Plumbing found that Josam Company’s Push-Fit joining system sped up installation on a food service stainless steel project.
  2. T. Chadwick used Victaulic’s drawing service to meet a coordination challenge and its grooved piping system to meet deadlines.
  3. De-Cal, Inc. achieved a 30-40 percent improvement in productivity by switching from stick and TIG to the Miller PipeWorx 400 MIG welding system.
  4. Dynamic Systems, Inc. minimized noise and saved workspace by using Pentair’s CADDY products to prefabricate a floor for a hospital renovation project.
  5. Egan Company overcame time challenges and space constraints using Daikin’s highly efficient Rebel rooftop units.
  6. Gallo Mechanical expanded its fabrication operations and saved time with its drawings by using TSI’s Autodesk Fabrication and Building Data
  7. Harrell-Fish, Inc. (HFI) reduced its billing cycle, enhanced payroll processing and improved its service operations by going digital with Jonas Construction Software.
  8. The Hill Group saved $45,000 a day using Erickson Incorporated’s heavy-lift helicopters on projects in downtown Chicago.
  9. Icon Mechanical found an efficient digital solution to allocating and tracking tools and equipment with its purchase of Milwaukee Tool’s ONE-KEY™
  10. Pan Pacific Mechanical met California building code challenges with a better, faster and safer anchor solution offered by Jay R. Smith Mfg. Co.
  11. PAR Plumbing found the HOLDRITE pipe support system was a time saver and very effective in tight spaces in New York City high rises.
  12. University Mechanical achieved LEED Platinum status for a college facility by installing Uponor’s radiant flooring.
  13. S. Engineering gained “at least a 10-percent” labor savings using Zurn’s lean construction plumbing solutions.

This edition also features tips and ideas on other ways you and your company can save money and enhance your productivity.  Download your copy here.

Watch for the next issue of Smart Solutions in March 2017.


Introducing MSCA Connect

MSCA is proud to announce a new era as MSCA CONNECT.  Only by building lasting relationship and key connections can your company grow and prosper.  MSCA Connect will be your “one-stop-shop” for resources and programs to enhance relationships at all levels.  Whether it be enhancing the skills of your employees to build a stronger, more qualified workforce; reaching out to other contractors across the country who face similar challenges; building long-term relationships with key industry vendors who are on the cutting edge of new technologies and products; connecting with students and training institutions to enhance recruiting of a talented future workforce or reaching beyond the business world to build meaningful relationships within your own local community, MSCA CONNECT will be there for you.

See what MSCA CONNECT can do for you!

MCERF Thanks Frank Schaetzke for Contribution

Frank_SchaetzkeFrank Schaetzke of Pipersville, PA made a personal contribution of $500 to the Mechanical Contracting Education & Research Foundation (MCERF).  This brings Frank’s total personal contributions to MCERF to $2,500.  Frank is Vice President of National Contractor Accounts for Zurn Industries, LLC.  He hopes his support allows “…MCERF to continue its outstanding support of industry education and internships.  These efforts really differentiate the mechanical contracting industry from others.”

Mark Rogers, MCERF’s President, thanked Frank for his support of the Foundation.  Rogers said, “Frank is a good friend to the Foundation.”

For more information on MCERF, contact Dennis Langley (dlangley@mcaa.org).

Get Your Copy of the New Tool and Equipment Rental Guide

MCAA has released the 2016-2017 edition of its Tool and Equipment Rental Guide. The guide puts the latest comprehensive cost recovery information for commonly used tools and equipment at your fingertips. The single download includes both a PDF version and an Excel spreadsheet. The guide is free as a member benefit.

The rental rates are based on ownership and operating costs for contractor-owned equipment and are derived from formulas and data developed by the experts at EquipmentWatch and from analytic methods used in the construction industry.

Generally, these methods consider the purchase price, depreciation, maintenance and overhaul costs, indirect equipment costs and average annual use hours.

Profit, project overhead and general company overhead costs such as office facilities and supplies are not included in the rates.

Download your copy here.

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

Flat rate premiums for multiemployer plans will increase 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 this year 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.



14th Annual Safety Directors’ Conference – Registration Now Open

Click here to register, download the brochure or learn more about MCAA’s 14th annual Safety Directors’ Conference on MCAA’s exciting new website The conference will be presented January 24 – 26, 2017, in Clearwater Beach, Florida.

Learn how to become much more effective at training, educating, and presenting to others with the engaging, funny keynote presenter Dr. John Medina, author of the book Brain Rules. His topic… The Learning Brain.

john-medina           img_1619

Other educational session topics include, OSHA’s new silica standard and its current legal status, legal marijuana issues in the workplace, nanomaterial hazards in mechanical construction, skin cancer in mechanical construction and service, new innovative ladder safety technology, safety leadership,  the prevalence of suicide in construction and prevention strategies, OSHA’s recently revised recordkeeping rule, protecting workers from prescription pain killer abuse, and much, much more.


Enforcement of Some OSHA Recordkeeping Rule Provisions Delayed Again, This Time to December 1

The provisions in OSHA’s recently revised recordkeeping rule to prevent employers from discouraging workers to report work-related injuries and illnesses has been delayed again, this time from November 1, 2016 to December 1, 2016.

Make sure your company is in compliance with the new OSHA recordkeeping rule changes covering employee involvement and prohibition against discrimination by December 1st. To be in compliance you’ll have to:

  • Inform each worker of how to report a work-related injury or illness;
  • Establish a “reasonable procedure” for your workers to report work-related injuries and illnesses promptly and accurately;
  • Provide your workers with information about the company’s “reasonable procedure” for reporting work -related injuries and illnesses;
  • Provide access for your workers and their representatives to the company’s work-related injury and illness records;
  • Ensure that your company’s reporting procedures do not deter or discourage workers from accurately reporting a workplace injury or illness;
  • Inform each worker of his or her right to report work-related injuries and illnesses without retaliation; and
  • Inform each worker that employers are prohibited from discharging, or in any manner discriminating against workers for reporting work-related injuries or illnesses.

Be sure to carefully document all company actions related to compliance with these provisions. If you would like more information on OSHA’s recent recordkeeping rule changes, click here to access MCAA’s Safety Bulletin… OSHA’s Revised Recordkeeping Rule – Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses. 

2016 Student Chapter & Mechanical Contractor Summit Hits New High in Denver!

Thursday through Saturday, October 13-15, MCAA Student Chapter members and their faculty and a record number of contractors met in Denver for a peak experience that combined elements of breathtaking new technologies with advice on better use of social media for advancing young careers.  The Summit gave everyone a chance to mix technology and recreation with dinner and a tour of the world-famous Breckenridge Brewery.

The Summit opened on Thursday evening with presentations from representatives of four of the industry’s newest and most dynamic technologies, including those on augmented reality and the latest iterations of 3D printing and more.

MCAA President Tom Stone kicked off the Friday img_20161014_080822710morning activities with his perspective on the attending students finding great futures and great careers in the mechanical contracting industry.  Then, representatives from Trimble updated the attendees on the latest advances and future trends involving Robotic Total Station use in the construction industry.

Timothy Drake from the University of NE-Lincoln student chapter told the attendees how they won the honor of being named the 2015 Student Chapter of the Year and what chapters could do to better their chances of achieving such success. Afterward, Dr. Blake Wentz of the Milwaukee School of Engineering gave the group background for the mini-competition they would undertake the next day in a session called “It’s All in the Game.”

After lunch, Jon Finch of Milwaukee Tool asked “What’s Wrong With This Picture?” in a session that took real-world examples of young people using social media to try to gain or enhance their careers and futures but who in doing so were making mistakes that range from silly to career-terminal!  The idea was to help attendees avoid such mistakes and to teach them how to be social media savvy when using those media to bolster their careers.

All of which led up to a fun and educational evening sampling some of the finest food and beverages Denver offers with dinnerimg_20161014_190005429 and a tour at the world-famous Breckenridge Brewery.  The attendees saw how the brewery designed its facilities and processes using the best of old world brewing artistry with modern design and construction processes to produce some of the finest craft beers available.  In addition, they sampled some of the West’s distinctive food delicacies such as local, fresh elk burgers. The evening was complemented by outdoor games and tremendous student/contractor networking.

Saturday morning featured the tradition of announcing the next img_20161015_082313369year’s national student competition continue when Career Development Committee member John Powell (San Ramon, CA) announced that the next national competition would be different than any previously conducted, the renovation of a wastewater treatment plant in Chippewa Falls, WI.  This project will require relatively little in the way of actual design-build skills and planning.  It will instead the showcase the respondent’s ability to grasp and conceptualize a solution for concurrent operations, construction, and ongoing facilities maintenance, as well as their ability to marshal a team of professionals with the credentials to do the job.  It also allows each responding team to show their understanding of a number of profound water crises facing the United States and to begin contemplating solutions.

Afterwards, there was a panel featuring four recent student chapter graduates who had been working in the industry for MCAA contractors for the last 2-3 years who answered questions from audience about what they have learned since leaving the college ranks and joining the mechanical contracting workforce.  img_20161015_084225947These employees focused on what they called “servant leadership” which is learning all you can from those you lead.  They discussed the importance of work place chemistry and of learning all you can through internships before full time employment.

The main event for Saturday morning, however, was Part II of the annual mini competition which involved all student teams competing for cash and glory in a game show format–“The Brain Game.”  img_20161015_092250983The game was emceed by Jon Finch of Milwaukee Tools with help from Dr. Blake Wentz.img_20161015_093830716  Teams answered questions “Jeopardy style” about the project presented to them the previous day by Dr. Wentz as well as general questions about the mechanical contracting industry.  Tables were combined to form ad hoc teams and Teams 3 and 4 won the overall competition.  Each participant from the teams won $50 cash!

Then next big event for the student chapters will the “Final Four” competition at the MCAA 2017 convention in San Diego, CA, March 5-9.  Should be one of the best ever considering the final project has such real-world implications for all us!


MCAA Unveils Program Details and Website for Industry Improvement Funds Conference

The 2016 MCAA Industry Improvement Funds Conference agenda is packed full of educational offerings that are ideal for local association executives and their industry improvement fund trustees. Click here to register and view the new MCAA website dedicated to the 2016 Industry Improvement Funds Conference.

MCAA President, Tom Stone (Braconier Plumbing & Heating Company) will kick-off the conference by updating the group on the latest MCAA news and education initiatives.  Attendees will hear from Denise Martinez, CPA at Shields Blice & Company, in her session Industry Fund Accounting Do’s and Don’ts. During her talk, Martinez will walk through some basic but crucial accounting regulations as well as provide an update on financial reporting practices.  And, back by popular demand, Jim Estabrook and Elizabeth Manzo (Lindabury, McCormick, Estabrook & Cooper) will take the stage and lead a discussion on Taking Important Steps Toward Diversity and Workplace Sensitivity.

Register now to reserve your spot for the Industry Improvement Funds Conference, November 30 – December 2, 2016.  Held at the beautiful Longboat Key Club in Longboat Key, Florida, attendees will get a refresher on the proper use of industry funds, including ideas for beneficial programs which they can subsidize.




MCAA PAC and MCA of Eastern Pennsylvania Fundraising Event with House Candidate Patrick Meehan Focuses on Industry Issues

During a September 26 meeting facilitated by the MCAA PAC, Congressman Pat Meehan (PA-7) met with representatives from the MCA of Eastern Pennsylvania to discuss issues facing contractors on a federal level. The meeting, which was held at the Hogan Lovells office in Philadelphia, allowed members to share their concerns regarding multiemployer pension reform, regulatory issues, and the latest developments in the energy industry. By discussing the issues in depth, all parties gained a further understanding of the key issues and how they might be impacted by the 2016 elections.

Rep. Meehan has been a powerful voice in Washington since his election in 2014, advocating on behalf of responsible contractors while serving on the influential House Ways and Means Committee as well as the Committee on Ethics. Congressman Meehan has a strong bipartisan record on construction industry issues and supports the responsible contracting policies of MCAA member firms.

Learn how MCAA is leading on the issues.

Safety Conflict Resolution – Safety Training Video for Supervisors

Don’t let your supervisors miss out on MCAA’s array of safety training resources for supervisors, such as the video Making It Work: Safety Conflict Resolution for Supervisors.

The video prepares project managers, foremen and other affected supervisors to effectively handle common jobsite safety conflicts, such as scheduling disagreements, housekeeping problems, and personality clashes.

The video is one of six MCAA safety training videos for supervisors, and all of them are available to you free as a benefit of membership.

To access the video, please click here.


Knowledge in Negotiations is Power

If you want to walk into negotiations with more knowledge and confidence, register now for the 2016 MCAA Collective Bargaining Seminar where you will obtain the information needed to make future negotiations a success.

This year’s seminar will feature discussions of new federal regulations affecting collective bargaining, apprenticeship enrollment and employment, and Taft-Hartley fund administration to include:  paid sick and family leave on direct federal projects – application to Taft-Hartley plans; written affirmative action plans for registered apprenticeship programs; affirmative action employment requirements for “mega” federal and federally assisted construction projects; prime contractor and subcontractor legal compliance certification for direct federal contracts of $500,000 or more; and miscellaneous wage and hour regulation and Davis Bacon compliance issues.

By the end of the three-day seminar, attendees will have gained greater insight and understanding of the bargaining process.

Click here to register and view the new MCAA website dedicated to the 2016 Collective Bargaining Seminar.


The Next Qualified Level Arc Flash Safety Training Webinar is November 17, 2016

Make sure your service techs have the up-to-date safety training they need to protect themselves from arc flash and electrical shock hazards while working on equipment pushing 480 volts or less. The session covers all applicable OSHA requirements, NFPA 70E provisions, best practices, and real-world accident information.

The next two webinars are being held on November 17, 2016. Register for this date.

If you can’t make it, no worries. The webinar will be taught again twice in December:

December 15, 2016, 7-9 am or 10 am – 12 noon, EDT  Register for this date.

Questions? Contact Pete Chaney.

See What’s Happening at MSCA 2016

Take a few minutes to browse through the Program Book for the upcoming MSCA Educational Conference, October 24 – 27 at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess in Scottsdale, AZ.  For those of you that plan to attend, you are in for a real treat. An exciting and informative program is planned as well as some special events. And the conference location could not be more beautiful.   Watch this site for important announcements as the conference gets underway.

Click here to download your copy of the 2016 conference program book to see what we have in store for you!

Survey Issued on Surety Bonds

If you have opinions about the quality of surety bonds used in your business, the National Association of Surety Bond Producers (NASBP) (a frequent partner with MCAA on industry policy issues in Washington DC), wants your input.

The NASBP is conducting a survey on the industry’s satisfaction with surety bond services.  The survey closes on Monday, October 24, close of business, so please respond quickly if you would like to relate your views on this important topic.

To participate, go to surety bond survey.


Do You Want to Start Your MCAA.org Experience on a Particular Page?

If you have an iPad or iPhone, it’s easy. Follow these simple steps to customize your MCAA.org experience by making, for example, our Safety Excellence Initiative or MSCA.org or any other page an app on your home screen!

  1. Open Safari and navigate to MCAA.org.
  2. Use the menu to find the page you use most often.
  3. Touch the “share” button in the Safari menu bar to see the options (it looks like a box with an upward arrow coming out of it).
  4. Check out the lowest row of options, and scroll until you see the plus sign icon “Add to Home Screen.”
  5. Select it and rename the page if you choose to something shorter, “Safety” or “MSCA”.
  6. And there you have it! Hit the home button to leave Safari and you should see the new “App” on your home screen.
  7. You can even make as many as you need. Calendar? Resource Center? NCPWB? Virtual Trade Show?

It’s that easy!

MCAA Releases Updated HR Manual

The MCAA Guide to Human Resources Policies–just updated to reflect current technologies, practices and laws–is now available for download at no charge as a benefit of MCAA membership.

The Guide was designed and is intended to be a tool for mechanical contracting firms to use in creating employment policy manuals for their personnel. New sections have been added concerning employee use of social media, computers, and vehicles, immigration law requirements, nondisclosure of confidential information, security procedures, benefits, leave and much more. The Guide includes two formats—Adobe Acrobat for reading and Microsoft Word for customization.  Bookmarks allow for easy navigation, quick scanning and convenient reference.

Download your copy here.  For assistance, contact publications@mcaa.org or call 800-556-3653.