MCAA Government Affairs Update for June 21, 2024: The Latest Developments Impacting Our Industry

June 23, 2024

As part of its ongoing commitment to protecting your livelihood and setting the stage for a bright future, MCAA has secured the services of Longbow Public Policy Group to advise our MCAA Government Affairs Committee (GAC). GAC Chair, Jim Gaffney will be passing along information relative to our industry on a regular basis.

On Friday, June 21, 2024 MCAA Lobbying Firm, Longbow Public Policy Group provided the following information:

MCAA Issues and Interests 

Project Labor Agreements

House Oversight Committee to Hold Hearing Attacking PLAs Next Thursday

As we continue to engage with various Congressional committees with jurisdiction over the MCAA’s priority issues, we wanted to be sure the GAC was aware that the House Oversight Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Information Technology, and Government Innovation announced a hearing next Thursday, June 27, 2024, entitled, “Cutting Competition in Contracting: The Administration’s Pricey Project Labor Agreement Mandate.” The witnesses for the hearing are: (1) Ben Brubeck, Vice President of Regulatory, Labor, and State Affairs, with the Associated Builders and Contractors; (2) Glenn P. Ledet, Jr., Executive Director of the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority; and (3) Aric Dreher, Vice President and General Manager at Cianbro. The hearing coincides with the Associated Builders and Contractors’ legislative fly-in next week in Washington, D.C. from June 25-26, 2024. 

Davis-Bacon Prevailing Wage

MCAA Helps to Defeat Anti-Davis-Bacon Amendment to the NDAA

The MCAA policy team worked with its allies in CEA [Construction Employers of America] to defeat a proffered House Rules Committee amendment to the fiscal year 2025 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) from Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ). Rep. Gosar’s amendment would have required that the prevailing wages paid to federal contractors at the Defense Department be determined using wage averages from the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) instead of county-by-county wage surveys required under the Davis-Bacon Act and related rules. The MCAA opposed the amendment because use of the BLS data would have resulted in prevailing rates ALWAYS being an average of union and non-union rates in an area and precluded the union rate from ever prevailing—even in the markets where we prevail under the recently finalized Davis-Bacon modernization regulations. The amendment was clearly an attempt to undermine the revised definition of prevailing rate in these new, MCAA-supported rules. Working with our allies in the CEA, the policy team conducted significant outreach in opposition to Gosar’s amendment and it was not made in order because some number of House Republicans were prepared to vote against it. Following the defeat of Rep. Gosar’s amendment, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) also changed course and decided not to re-offer the amendment he put forward in the House Armed Services Committee effectively banning project labor agreements on Defense Department construction contracts. As we reported on May 24, 2024, we worked with CEA allies to defeat Gaetz’s amendment during the May markup of NDAA in the Armed Services Committee by a 26-31 vote in which 4 Republicans joined all Democrats in opposition. 

Treasury/IRS Release Final Rule on Prevailing Wage and Apprenticeship Requirements under the Inflation Reduction Act 

On June 18th, the U.S. Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued a final rule interpreting the prevailing wage and apprenticeship (PWA) requirements related to increased credit or deduction amounts for the construction, alteration, or repair of certain qualifying clean energy properties under the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). This is the rulemaking MCAA Government Affairs Committee Chair Jim Gaffney testified on before the IRS in November 2023. The rule is set to be published in the Federal Register on Tuesday, June 25th. A fact sheet on the final rule from the White House is available here and a fact sheet on the final rule from the IRS is available here

By satisfying the PWA requirements of this final rule, taxpayers can generally increase the base amount of IRA clean energy credits or deductions by five times the original credit. The final rule also explains statutory exceptions to the PWA requirements for many types of clean energy projects, such as the exception for projects that began before January 29, 2023. 

In addition to publishing the final rule and associated fact sheets, Treasury, the IRS, and the Department of Labor (DOL) released additional resources, including: (1) a Treasury/DOL blog post on Project Labor Agreements; (2) an IRS overview of the PWA requirements; (3) an IRS fact sheet on the PWA requirements; (4) a frequently asked questions document from the IRS; (5) a dedicated IRA PWA page on the DOL website; (6) a dedicated IRA apprenticeship page on the DOL website; (7) a DOL PWA frequently asked questions site; and (8) a Good Clean Energy Jobs Interactive Map from DOL.

The MCAA policy team is currently reviewing the over 300-page, pre-publication version of the rule and will be providing the Government Affairs Committee with an overview of it by the time it is published in the Federal Register next Tuesday.

Registered Apprenticeship

ETA Submits Final Rule on National Apprenticeship System Enhancements to OIRA for Review

We also wanted to be sure that you were aware that on June 18th, the Labor Department’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA) submitted to the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) its final rule on “National Apprenticeship System Enhancements.” This is the rulemaking on which the MCAA and the United Association submitted comments back in March 2024. 

The joint MCAA/UA comments in March highlighted to ETA the best-in-class apprenticeship programs that the MCAA and the UA sponsor. The letter also expressed support for portions of the proposed rule that advance the kind of successful apprenticeship programs we operate, ensure the quality of registered apprenticeship programs, and advance the safety and welfare of apprentices. Most of the letter, however, was dedicated to urging ETA to reconsider aspects of the proposed rule that the MCAA and the UA view as detrimental to high-quality registered apprenticeship programs in our industry. These include a provision authorizing exemptions from the minimum standards for registration of a program, creation of National Occupational Standards for our crafts, language that could be interpreted to override local standards on ratios and other issues, the creation of a new Career and Technical Education Apprenticeship system for construction and other industries, and non-compete language in the proposal that undermines lawful scholarship loan repayment agreements.

 Senate HELP Ranking Member Cassidy Details WIOA Reauthorization Priorities

As part of our ongoing advocacy and lobbying efforts regarding apprenticeship on behalf of the MCAA, the public policy team also monitored a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee hearing on June 12, 2024, entitled, “The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act: Supporting Efforts to Meet the Needs of Youth, Workers, and Employers.” During the hearing, Ranking Member Bill Cassidy (R-LA) said that Congress should focus on increasing options for training and skills development and should: (1) direct more funding to training and allow states to innovate to best serve workers and employers; (2) improve the state Eligible Training Provider List to make it easier for workers to connect to a broader array of quality workforce training providers than the registered apprenticeship program and other programs currently deemed eligible; (3) allow states the flexibility to implement innovative workforce development models that meet workers where they are and get them better connected with employers; and (4) increase the transparency and accountability of WIOA programs for improving employment outcomes, including earnings, to ensure they are best serving workers. Democrats on the Committee, led by Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-VT), focused their discussion on the importance of increasing job training opportunities for incarcerated individuals and doing more to provide training to high school students.

Independent Contractors and Misclassification of Workers 

D.C. AG Uncovers Elaborate Construction Misclassification Scheme in the Nation’s Capital

As we continue to engage on the MCAA’s priority issue of preventing the misclassification of construction and service workers as independent contractors, we wanted to be sure you were aware of a lawsuit filed by Washington, D.C. Attorney General Brian Schwalb against a Frederick, Maryland-based mechanical contractor for engaging in an elaborate misclassification scheme. On June 18th, AG Schwalb filed a lawsuit against W.G./Welch Mechanical Contractors, LLC and Whiting Turner Contracting Co., as well as three labor brokers—Mechanical Plumbing Crew, Co., Ramirez Plumbing, Inc., and GINCO HVAC, LLC—for violating D.C.’s wage and hour laws. In the lawsuit, AG Schwalb detailed the misclassification scheme as follows: (1) a general contractor, such as Whiting-Turner, is hired by developers and property owners to oversee a project and sits atop a “contracting chain” and subcontracts out the installation of major building systems to trade subcontractors like Welch; (2) to boost its profits, Welch knowingly obtains workers from labor brokers like Mechanical Plumbing Crew, Ramirez, and GINCO that, in order to minimize their costs, misclassify workers as independent contractors to avoid paying minimum wage, overtime, and sick leave; and (3) these cost reductions from worker misclassification benefitted Whiting-Turner by giving them a significant cost advantage.

This case involving well-known contractors is something we plan to highlight in our ongoing education of Congress and regulators about misclassification of workers in the construction and service industries.  

Pension Reform

Sen. Warren Confirms Wyden-Smith Tax Deal is Dead in Senate

This year it became clear that the MCAA policy team’s work with our allies in the Construction Employers of America to attach two-pool withdrawal liability to the Wyden-Smith tax deal that passed the House earlier this year is at an impasse as this week Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)  publicly confirmed that the tax bill is all but dead in the Senate for the remainder of this Congress. In remarks on June 17th at the Washington Center for equitable growth, Warren criticized her fellow Democrats for “kowtowing” to previous Republican tax cuts in an effort to broaden out the tax policy debate as it heats up ahead of the November elections. Notably, Warren trashed the bipartisan Wyden-Smith tax deal, saying Senate Republicans “tanked the [Wyden-Smith] deal because they believe they can get even more” after the 2024 elections and that “Democrats won’t have the spine to stop them.” We later followed up with other Senate offices that confirmed Sen. Warren’s assessment that the bill is likely dead.

During the same event, President Biden’s National Economic Council Deputy Director Daniel Hornung said that the expiration of the Trump-era Tax Cuts and Jobs Act at the end of 2025 provides a “generational opportunity to not just correct the failures of that legislation, but to fundamentally reorient our tax system towards shared growth and economic opportunity.” Hornung reiterated the Biden Administration’s key principles on taxes, including: (1) no tax increases for those making less than $400,000/year; (2) taxing capital gains at ordinary rates for taxpayers making $1 million; (3) applying a minimum tax to the wealthiest Americans’ income; and (4) closing the step-up in basis “loophole” for the wealthiest households. 

As the debate on taxes begins for next Congress, we are staring the process of discussing with our CEA allies and union partners what we can agree to push regarding pension reform. These efforts were, however, not helped by the fact that today the Teamsters announced that their President would speak at the Republican Presidential Convention in Milwaukee next month just hours after the Biden White House released a primer on the number of pension funds—including the Teamsters Central States Plan—that were saved by the President’s Special Financial Assistance Program that was part of the American Rescue Plan Act.  It is making many democrats feel there is not sufficient gratitude for pension reforms that have already been enacted.

Decarbonization

In this report, we actually have good news on the decarbonization front.

Senate Advances Legislation to Boost Domestic Nuclear Energy Production

The MCAA policy team was also busy this week adding to the chorus of voices that supported passage of the Accelerating Deployment of Versatile, Advanced Nuclear for Clean Energy (ADVANCE) Act in the Senate. The bill passed that chamber by a vote of 88-2 and was sent to President Biden for his signature. The bill will boost U.S. domestic nuclear energy production by: (1) directing the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to develop processes for expedited review and licensing of nuclear reactors and fuels; (2) supporting the deployment of advanced nuclear reactors; and (3) streamlining the regulatory requirements for micro-reactors. In addition, the bill directs the NRC to report to Congress within six months on manufacturing and construction for nuclear energy projects detailing existing licensing issues and requirements, examining the requirements for nuclear-grade components in manufacturing and construction for nuclear energy projects, and identifying safety aspects of advanced manufacturing processes and advanced construction techniques that are not addressed by existing codes and standards.

DOE Releases Fact Sheet Highlighting Nuclear Power in the U.S. 

Passage of the ADVANCE Act was aided by the Energy Department’s (DOE) June 11th release of a fact sheet highlighting the benefits of nuclear power in the U.S. The fact sheet explains that: (1) nuclear power plants produced 775 billion kilowatt hours of electricity in 2023; (2) nuclear power provides nearly half of America’s clean energy; (3) nuclear energy is one of the most reliable sources of energy in America; (4) nuclear reactors help power 28 U.S. states; and (5) storage is not a problem because the small amount of used nuclear fuel produced by the U.S. nuclear energy industry over the last 60 years could fit on a football field at a depth of less than 10 yards. DOE also published a separate infographic version of the fact sheet, available here. It proved useful in counteracting some of the assertions a subset of environmentalists (a small minority) were making to oppose the ADVANCE Act.

Researchers Detect Reduction in Atmospheric Levels of Hydrocarbon Gases for First Time 

The case for the ADVANCE Act was also helped last week by a June 11th report from reputable climate researchers saying for the first time ever they have detected a significant reduction in atmospheric levels of hydrofluorocarbon gases that deplete the ozone layer and warm the planet. The scientists say this represents a significant milestone in the international effort to preserve the layer of Earth’s stratosphere that blocks dangerous ultraviolet sunlight. 

Global Fossil Fuel Emissions Hit All Time High

From a Decarbonization perspective, we also found it interesting that yesterday the U.K.-based Energy Institute’s Statistical Review of World Energy Report found that global fossil fuel consumption and energy emissions hit an all-time high in 2023. The report found that global energy consumption was at a “record absolute high,” increasing 2 percent compared to the previous year. Global fossil fuel consumption also reached a record high, increasing 1.5 percent largely due to coal and oil, even though the share of fossil fuel in the overall energy mix marginally decreased. Overall energy emissions increased by 2 percent last year, exceeding 40 gigatonnes of CO2 for the first time, the report said. The report comes as U.S. crude oil prices were trading about $82/barrel on June 20th, with benchmark Brent up 3.8% as U.S. oil and gas inventories fell for the first time in weeks, suggesting an uptick in demand. We think this report reinforces our arguments that oil and gas are still very much needed as part of world’s portfolio of energy sources and that this is not going to change any time soon despite the talk about the growth of renewable.  

White House Releases Climate Adaptation Plans

Yesterday, there was also another decarbonization development that may lead to some work for MCAA members. The White House released updated “Climate Adaptation Plans” for 2024-2027 that were developed by more than 20 federal agencies to advance the Biden Administration’s National Climate Resilience Framework and “align climate resilience investments across the public and private sector through common principles and opportunities for action to build a climate-resilient nation.” This includes efforts to: (1) build facility climate resilience through retrofits and upgrades to federal buildings to better withstand climate hazards and provide emergency backup systems for power, water, and communications; (2) foster a climate-ready workforce and help federal agencies address employee exposure to climate hazards such as extreme heat, flooding, and wildfires; (3) develop climate-resilient supply chains by diversifying suppliers and encouraging climate-smart sourcing to enhance resilience to climate-related disruptions; and (4) integrate climate resilience into external funding opportunities, including incorporating climate-smart infrastructure practices throughout actions to implement the Inflation Reduction Act and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

Federal Contracting 

Continuing Work to Pass Stauber Legislation on Equitable Adjustments for Federal Contractors

Despite our success keeping the Gosar amendment off the NDAA bill as discussed above, we were not successful in getting a vote on the Rep. Pete Stauber (R-MN) amendment that we wanted added to the NDAA bill regarding equitable adjustments for federal construction contractors (H.R. 2726, “Small Business Payment for Performance Act”). Although we did significant outreach in support of the amendment to the Rules Committee, the Small Business Committee (which has jurisdiction over H.R. 2726), and the House Armed Services Committee, Stauber’s amendment was not made in order. With a total of 1,357 amendments that were offered to NDAA, House leadership and the Armed Services Committee made a decision to include only those amendments that were tightly within the jurisdiction of the Armed Services Committee. Despite this setback, we are coordinating with Rep. Stauber’s staff on a path forward for the standalone bill and potential paths in the Senate.

Heat Injury and Illness Rulemaking 

White House Reviewing OSHA Heat Injury and Illness Rulemaking 

On June 11th, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) transmitted its proposed rule on “Heat Injury and Illness Prevention in Outdoor and Indoor Work Settings” to the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) for review. While we will not know the details of the forthcoming proposed rule until it formally publishes, it is expected to address: (1) initial heat triggers (NIOSH says 80 degrees Fahrenheit) and high-heat triggers (NIOSH says 90 degrees Fahrenheit) for when federal requirements to protect workers from heat stress must be used; (2) requirements for employers to submit written heat exposure control plans and/or heat illness prevention plans that advise people in administrative positions, managers, and workers on heat injury and illness prevention policies; (3) mandates regarding training frameworks that describe how the heat illness prevention plan or exposure control plan should be implemented and how it should train individuals to identify heat hazards, how to mitigate those hazards, and how to provide emergency response; (4) requirements to engage in environmental monitoring to determine what actions and responses are triggered by temperature or heat index thresholds; (5) requirements to ensure sufficient workplace control measures are in place, including providing potable and palatable water, designated water and shade breaks, indoor air movement and humidity control, and regular rest breaks; (6) requirements for pre-shift meetings or employee notifications, as well as suggestions for effective means of communication with employees; (7) acclimatization for new or returning workers and during heat waves; and (8) recordkeeping. OIRA generally has 90 days to review an agency rule, which means that OSHA’s heat injury and illness rule could be published for comment in late summer or fall.

MCAA’s Raffi Elchemmas and Andrew Siff participated in a call with the Construction Industry Safety Coalition to prepare for a call the group is having with OIRA to discuss our views on and concerns about the rulemaking before it clears the White House.  

Other Interesting Things Since Our Last Report 

Thursday, June 20th

  • House Education and the Workforce Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee Chair Bob Good (R-VA) announced a hearing on June 27, 2024 at 10:15am entitled, “Examining the Policies and Priorities of the Employee Benefits Security Administration.” Good said the hearing will “not only shine a light on EBSA’s misguided regulatory agenda, but it will also examine Assistant Secretary Lisa Gomez’s involvement in taxpayer funds erroneously paid to pensions plans for deceased participants” by the Pensions Benefit Guaranty Corporation.
  • The Energy Department released the new Supply Chain Cybersecurity Principles, which were developed for energy infrastructure manufacturers and end users and create a framework to strengthen key technologies used to manage and operate electricity, oil, and natural gas systems around the world. Notable energy sector suppliers and manufacturers that have supported the principles include GE Vernova, Schneider Electric, Hitachi Energy, Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, Rockwell Automation, Siemens, Siemens Energy, and Honeywell.  
  • Citi Group released a new report finding that artificial intelligence (AI) is likely to displace more jobs in “white collar” industries, like banking and insurance, than “blue collar” industries, like natural resources and chemicals. The report finds that banking jobs face the highest probability of displacement as the technology is poised to upend consumer finance and make workers more productive. Citi predicts that 54% of jobs across the banking sector have a high potential to be automated with AI. The report lists the insurance industry as the sector with the second greatest potential for job displacement from AI, estimating that up to 48% of the jobs in the industry could be automated with AI. Following the insurance industry, Citi predicts that 43% of energy jobs and 34% of retail jobs have a high potential to be replaced by AI. Conversely, Citi found that jobs in the chemical and natural resources industries have the lowest potential for jobs to be automated.

Tuesday, June 18th

  • The Energy Department (DOE) announced a notice of intent (NOI) to fund up to $900 million in grants through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to support the initial deployment of General III+ (Gen III+) Small Modular Reactor (SMR) technologies and spur follow-on reactor projects to strengthen the domestic nuclear industry. SMRs have the ability to meet smaller localized power demands and can also be scaled up for larger demand or used in complement with renewable energy. The funding will be offered in two tiers: (1) Tier 1 will provide up to $800 million for two first-mover teams (i.e., a company that gains a competitive advantage by being the first to bring a new product or service to the market) of utility, reactor vendor, constructor, and end-users or power off-takers (i.e., buys power from a project developer at a negotiated rate for a specified term) committed to deploying a first plant while at the same time facilitating a multi-reactor, Gen III+ SMR orderbook; and (2) Tier 2 will provide up to $100 million for additional Gen III+ SMR deployments by addressing key gaps that have hindered the domestic nuclear industry in areas such as design, licensing, supplier development, and site preparation. A webinar regarding the NOI will take place on July 9, 2024 at 1pm ET and registration is required. Additionally, DOE is offering meetings for Tier 1 project concepts, and registration is available by email to Gen3PlusSMR@hq.doe.gov.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) issued a fraud alert to highlight new regulatory requirements for EPA grant recipients and subrecipients to disclose both civil and criminal violations of federal law to the OIG under the Office of Management and Budget’s “Guidance for Federal Financial Assistance” regulations published on April 22, 2024. In a related podcast, the OIG Special Agent in Charge said that the EPA’s $27 billion in grant programs authorized under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Lawand Inflation Reduction Act are “open and ripe for fraud, especially at the subrecipient level,” because the grants get “passed down to multiple layers of subawards.” The OIG also detailed protections for EPA employees and contractors of EPA grantees and subgrantees who blow the whistle on fraud in these program. This is just the latest in a series of warnings the EPA IG has issued over these grant programs, including: (1) a May 16, 2024 press release in which the EPA IG indicated that a lack of internal controls may have cause the EPA to base its fiscal year 2023 allotment of $3 billion in Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funds for lead service line replacements on inaccurate and unverified data; and (2) a January 9, 2024 report in which the EPA IG said the EPA underreported $7 billion worth of fiscal year 2022 spending on a federal website because the agency did not follow its own procedures for configuring data or catching mistakes while relying on “manual, fragmented, and overly complex” processes. 
  • President Biden announced a forthcoming Department of Homeland Security (DHS) rule to allow noncitizen spouses and children of U.S. citizens to apply for lawful permanent residence without having to first leave the country. In order to be eligible, noncitizens must have—as of June 17, 2024—resided in the U.S. for ten or more years and be legally married to a U.S. citizen, while satisfying all applicable legal requirements. Tuesday’s announcement will also allow some Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival recipients and other so-called “Dreamers” to more swiftly get work visas if they have earned a college degree at an accredited U.S. institution and received an offer of employment from a U.S. employer in a field related to their degrees. 

Monday, June 17th

Friday, June 14th

  • President Biden signed an Executive Order (E.O.) to formalize the White House Council on Supply Chain Resilience—which consists of the Departments of Labor, Energy, Transportation, Homeland Security, Treasury, State, Defense, Agriculture, and Defense, as well as the Environmental Protection Agency. The E.O. requires the Council to issue a report by the end of 2024 and every four years thereafter regarding, among other things: (1) federal incentives and any potential amendments to federal procurement regulations that may be necessary to attract and retain private sector investments in the supply chains for critical goods and materials and other essential goods, materials, and services; (2) education and workforce reforms needed to strengthen the domestic industrial base for critical goods and materials; (3) reforms to trade rules and agreements to support supply chain resilience, security, diversity, sustainability, and strength; and (4) steps to ensure that the federal government’s supply chain policies support small businesses, prevent monopolization, strengthen critical infrastructure, and empower workers to advocate for their rights and quality jobs.

Thursday, June 13th

  • The Senate voted 63-33 to confirm Judy Chang to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). This followed votes on Wednesday, June 12th to confirm David Rosner and Lindsay See to FERC by votes of 67-27 and 83-12, respectively. Confirmation of these nominees ensures FERC has a quorum of voting commissioners to issue orders on a range of energy matters of interest to MCAA the Commission regulates, including the interstate transmission of oil, natural gas, and electricity, as well as permitting to build liquefied natural gas terminals, interstate natural gas pipelines, and hydropower projects. FERC Chair Willie Phillips issued a statement applauding the confirmation of the three new members, noting that “the Commission works best when it has five members.”
  • The Interior Department (DOI) announced $142 million in funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to advance drought resilience and boost water supplies, with approximately $85 million going to California, Hawaii, Kansas, Nevada, and Texas for the planning, design, and construction of water recycling facilities that reclaim and reuse wastewater and impaired ground and surface water and $57.5 million going to four desalination projects in southern California to increase water management flexibility and make water supplies more reliable through the treatment of seawater or brackish water.
  • The General Services Administration (GSA) transmitted to the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) for review a proposed rule entitled, “General Services Administration Acquisition Regulation (GSAR); SGAR Case 2021-G530, Labor Requirements for Lease Acquisitions.” This proposed rule would extend the requirements of Executive Order 14026, “Increasing the Minimum Wage for Federal Contractors” and Department of Labor regulations at 29 CFR part 23 to lease acquisitions where the Davis-Bacon Act applies by requiring inclusion of related Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) requirements. Generally, the FAR does not apply to leasehold acquisitions of real property. GSA notes, however, that several FAR requirements have been adopted through GSAR part 570.

Tuesday, June 11th

  • Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), House Education and the Workforce Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA), and House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Jerry Nadler (D-NY) reintroduced the Restoring Justice for Workers Act, which seeks to end forced arbitration clauses. Specifically, the legislation would: (1) prohibit the use of forced arbitration clauses in employment contracts and prohibit employers from requiring employees to waive their right to engage in join, class, or collective legal action; (2) reverse the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision in Epic Systems, which dismantled workers’ right to band together to hold employers accountable; and (3) ensure that post-dispute arbitration agreements are not obtained by threat or coercion, that the agreement is understandable, and that the employee affirmatively consents to the agreement in writing and is fully aware of their rights in the workplace. 
  • A group of House Democrats launched a task force to take on and publicize some policy ideas coming out of “Project 2025,” a policy roadmap that outlines policies Trump-aligned conservative groups envision enacting during a second Trump presidency. The group is led by Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA) and includes, among others, Democratic Caucus Vice Chair Ted Lieu (D-CA), House Oversight Committee Ranking Member Jamie Raskin (D-MD), and Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal (D-WA). The task force will liaise with liberal groups and help gather research, organize briefings, and coordinate messaging and legislative strategy among the Democratic Caucus.

Monday, June 10th

  • The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) published a lengthy piece entitledA Reckoning for Biden’s Lawless Labor Chief, which argues against reconfirming National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Chair Lauren McFerran, whose term ends in December 2024. The WSJ’s Editorial Board asserts that under McFerran’s tenure as chair, the NLRB has repeatedly disregarded the law and shed any veneer of fairness. 
  • The Wall Street Journal reported that skepticism about the cost and value of four-year college degrees is growing and causing enrollment at vocational-focused colleges to rise 16% last year—the highest level since the National Student Clearinghouse began tracking such data in 2018. 

Around the Country 

Northeast 

  • On June 17th, New Jersey Attorney General Matthew Platkin charged George and Philip Norcross, the brothers of Rep. Donald Norcross (D-NJ), in a sweeping indictment alleging a 12-year corruption scheme that involved extortion and threats.

West

  • On June 20th, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) announced that it has approved the application submitted to the Special Financial Assistance (SFA) Program by the Pacific Coast Shipyards Pension Plan (Pacific Coast Shipyards Plan), which is based in Pleasanton, California and covers 507 participants in the maritime construction industry. The Pacific Coast Shipyards Plan will receive approximately $18.9 million in SFA, including interest to the expected date of payment to the plan. The plan was projected to become insolvent and run out of money in 2032 and participants’ benefits would have been cut by roughly 35 percent below the amount payable under the terms of the plan without the SFA. 
  • On June 18th, One Nation, a top conservative group, announced a new ad against incumbent Democratic Sen. Jacky Rosen (NV) as part of a $6 million ad buy that will run through Labor Day. The ad urges Rosen to “vote against reckless spending and for struggling families” and attacks Rosen’s votes in favor of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act.
  • On June 11th, the Associated Press reported that Bill Gates and his energy company TerraPower are starting construction at a site in Kemmerer, Wyoming for a next-generation nuclear power plant. The company applied to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in March for a construction permit for an advanced nuclear reactor that uses sodium, not water, for cooling. The work begun today is aimed at ensuring the site is ready so TerraPower can build the reactor as quickly as possible if the permit is approved.  

Northwest 

  • On June 18th, Washington State and Oregon filed a federal lawsuit challenging Federal Energy Regulatory Commission orders approving the Gas Transmission Northwest Xpress project intended to upgrade three compressor stations. In the lawsuit, the states said that the project will “increase air pollution, harm wildlife owned by the States of Washington and Oregon and increase safety hazards to state-owned property near the pipeline.” The states are asking the D.C. Circuit to review the commission’s approval order and two orders denying the states’ requests for rehearing. 
  • On June 12th, a federal jury in Portland found the operator of a local chain of check cashing businesses in Oregon guilty for his role in a multiyear scheme to obstruct the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) from collecting payroll and income taxes on construction workers’ wages. David Katz, the compliance officer for Check Cash Pacific, Inc., conspired with others in the construction industry to facilitate under-the-table payments to construction workers that evaded tax withholdings. To carry out the scheme, sham construction companies were created and used to cash more than $177 million in payroll checks at different Check Cash Pacific locations. The cash was used to pay construction workers under-the-table, with no taxes being withheld or reported to the IRS.

Midwest 

  • On June 18th, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) announced a ruling by NLRB Administrative Law Judge Sarah Karpinen that J.O. Mory, Inc. an HVAC company located in South Milford, Indiana, unlawfully: (1) violated the National Labor Relations Act by maintaining unlawful noncompete and solicitation policies; (2) terminated an employee for engaging in union activity protected under the National Labor Relations Act; and (3) maintained an unlawful “Union Free Statement” in a handbook that employees were forced to sign as a condition of employment. 

Southeast

  • On June 18th, the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced that it will hold a webinar on June 26, 2024 from 1-3pm ET for its Southeast Region (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee) that will include presentations on whistleblower laws that OSHA enforces, the criteria for filing a whistleblower complaint and how to file one, claim processes and procedures, and what happens during an investigation on federal protections for whistleblowers in OSHA’s Southeast Region. Registration for the webinar is required and is available here through EventBrite

Southwest

  • On June 20th, a new study found that human-caused climate change turbocharged the odds of this month’s killer heat that has been baking the Southwestern United States, Mexico, and Central America. Specifically, World Weather Attribution, a collection of scientists that run rapid and non-peer reviewed climate attribution studies, said that sizzling daytime temperatures that triggered heat stroke in parts of the United States were 35 times more likely and 2.5 degrees hotter (1.4 degrees Celsius) because of the warming from the burning of coal, oil and natural gas. 
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There are a handful of spots left for the 2024 MCAA Fabrication Conference, September 11-13 in Milwaukee. Our exhibit hall is packed with the latest industry innovations, and we have exciting tours lined up at JM Brennan's mechanical, piping, and sheet metal facilities, as well as MILWAUKEE TOOL's new Redline facility. This is your chance to join an event that’s both informative and inspiring.…
Participating in industry peer groups not only offers a valuable platform for fostering relationships and exchanging expertise within a supportive community but also represents a proven best practice adopted by many successful MCAA contractor members. These groups provide professionals with an opportunity to benchmark their performance, exchange best practices, address common challenges, and gain strategic insights from industry peers.…
MCAA’s Virtual Trade Show connects our contractor members with the members of MCAA’s Manufacturer/Supplier Council.…
In the air- and water-cooled chiller markets, oil-free compression technology is emerging as a more efficient, quieter, more easily applied, and easier-to-maintain alternative to legacy screw compressors. For original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and end-users of mission-critical chillers in large HVAC applications, oil management adds costs and complexities to system designs—which typically result in declining energy efficiencies throughout their lifecycles.…
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