From Friday, July 16
Schumer Pushes Budget and Infrastructure Deals in Senate:
This week, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D. N.Y., announced that the U.S. Senate has until Wednesday next week to move forward on the Democrat’s $3.5 trillion budget proposal and plans to also hold a procedural vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill currently being negotiated by Republicans and Democrats in the Senate. The issue facing Democrats and Leader Schumer is that neither of these proposals are fully fleshed out and no legislative text has been finalized.
This budget framework, which has been supported by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Democrats on the U.S. Senate Budget Committee, including the Chairman and de facto progressive leader in Congress Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., also still has to obtain the support of all Democrats in the caucus and key Democratic Senators Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., and Joe Manchin, D. W.Va. Both Sinema and Manchin have expressed their concerns on the strictly partisan process.
Additionally, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who chairs the Senate Budget Committee, said that the party’s compromise for the blueprint will include the ABC-opposed PRO Act, but declined to provide additional details on what parts of the over-reaching labor proposal would actually be submitted in the budget proposal to the Senate parliamentarian for final approval. Reports have also focused on the potential for additional monetary penalties for employers that could possibly withstand the reconciliation requirements under the Byrd Rule process that prevents extraneous provisions from being included in the legislation.
Additionally, the bipartisan group of 22 U.S. Senators working to finalize the infrastructure deal have not finalized the proposal and outstanding issues remain on how to pay for the new spending provided under the bipartisan group’s framework. The bill will also need 60 votes to pass the procedural motion, which will require all 50 votes in the Democratic caucus and at least 10 Republican votes, which remains uncertain at this time.
ABC continues to advocate for key policies in the bill that ensure no restrictive labor provisions are included and that any bipartisan deal supports the construction industry and fair and open competition for infrastructure projects.
Labor HHS Appropriations Committee Strips H2B Language Harmful to Construction:
Following efforts from ABC and members of the H2B Workforce Coalition, along with a letter earlier this week to the U.S. House Appropriations Committee, the committee approved an amendment offered by Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.) to remove Sections 116, 117 and 118 from the Fiscal 2022 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Subcommittee appropriations bill. The amendment passed by voice vote. Sections 116, 117, and 118 would have greatly harmed small and seasonal businesses and their American workers, categorically restricting numerous industries from participating in the H-2B program, including construction.
WSJ Highlights ABC and Business Community Opposition to Weil Nomination:
Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal posted an article critical of President Biden’s nomination of David Weil to serve as the administrator of the DOL Wage and House Division, calling his nomination a proxy vote for the PRO Act. Please also see additional PRO Act news coverage here.
In part the WSJ article states:
“The Biden administration is pressing Congress to pass the Protecting the Right to Organize Act, a legislative monstrosity that would eliminate right-to-work states and turn union bosses into the masters of workplaces everywhere. Should they fail to sneak the bill through as part of a budget-reconciliation measure (Senate rules could make that hard), the White House will deputize the Labor Department to implement as much of it as possible through regulatory fiat. Mr. Weil would be a chief enforcer, and history shows he won’t be shy.”
Weil oversaw the WHD under the Obama Administration, supporting the implementation of several harmful rules such as the “unlawful overtime rule, sweeping restrictions on the use of independent contractors, and new “joint employment” rules that imposed crushing operational and legal costs on small companies.”
The article also highlights a letter from ABC and a coalition of business associations opposing the confirmation of David Weil to be administrator of the DOL Wage and Hour Division. ABC previously expressed concerns about Dr. Weil during President Obama’s nomination to serve in the position in 2013. In the letter ABC again raised concerns about Dr. Weil’s track record and bias against employers.
ABC Files Treasury Comments on PLAs:
Yesterday ABC filed comments in response to the U.S. Treasury’s Interim Final Rule encouraging project labor agreements and other anti-competitive and costly labor policies on state and local sewer, water and broadband construction projects over $10 million eligible for $350B of federal dollars via American Recovery Plan Act of 2021. ICYMI and receive questions from contractors and state and local stakeholders procuring federally assisted construction projects, on June 17, Treasury released the Compliance and Reporting Guidance document for State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds on this website. State and local governments receiving SLFRF program dollars on eligible water, sewer and broadband projects of $10 million or more must provide certification that a project uses a project labor agreement as well as other certifications concerning other labor policies like prevailing wage and local hire requirements. If the recipient does not provide such certification, the recipient must provide a project workforce continuity plan and other requirements. Relevant PLA reporting language can be found on pages 20-22.
ABC National developed a template letter (available on the ABC National Connections PLAs & Labor page) ABC chapters and members in the 24 states that have active Fair and Open Competition Act laws can use to push back on any efforts to require PLAs on infrastructure projects funded by federal dollars via the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.
In a May 24 letter to U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, ABC expressed concerns about Treasury’s May 17 interim final rule and fact sheet concerning $350 billion worth of federal funding for state and local fiscal recovery allocated in ARPA, and the encouragement of PLAs on federally assisted water, sewer and broadband projects procured by state and local governments.
In addition, ABC National’s grassroots alert to Treasury in opposition to this language received hundreds of responses.
Last month, chief House sponsor of the ABC-priority Fair and Open Competition Act, Rep. Budd (R), led a congressional letter to Treasury concerning the pro-PLA language in their rulemaking.
Please contact Ben Brubeck, Brandon Ray or Nick Steingart if you have questions or learn of PLAs being required by state and local governments on eligible ARPA-funded infrastructure projects.
OSHA Highlights Resources to Prevent Heat Illness and Death on Construction Jobsites:
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, more than 40% of heat-related worker deaths occur in the construction industry. As with all incidents, heat illness is entirely preventable, provided you develop and implement simple preventive measures.
OSHA offers numerous resources that will help to protect workers from heat, including:
· Heath Safety Page: Learn about heat illness symptoms and prevention
· Educational and training materials
· Prevent Heat Illness at Work infographic (English and Spanish versions)
· Prevent Health Illness at Work pamphlet (English and Spanish versions)
· Prevent Health Illness at Work poster (English and Spanish versions)
· Videos and graphics that organizations can use in their publications or social media campaigns
· Publications page, which includes posters, pamphlet, and fact sheets on heat illness prevention and safety
Visit osha.gov for Heat - Planning and Supervision and Heat Illness Prevention guidance to help you protect your workers . Also, visit your app store to download the Heat Safety Tool smartphone app from the National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health, which provides the heat index (temperature and relative humidity), symptoms of and first aid treatment for heat illness, FAQs and additional tips for working in the heat.
Reminder—ABC-Led Coalition Announces Advocacy Campaign Against PLA Mandates:
Build America Local, a coalition of construction industry and business organizations led by Associated Builders and Contractors, today announced a six-figure issue advocacy campaign aimed at educating Americans and members of the U.S. Senate about controversial government-mandated project labor agreements that reduce competition and increase costs for the construction of taxpayer-funded affordable housing, clean energy and infrastructure projects across America.
The campaign urges senators to oppose government-mandated PLA schemes as bipartisan infrastructure negotiations continue between a select group of Senate Republicans and Democrats and the Biden administration.
“As Congress works to craft infrastructure legislation, it is critical for the U.S. Senate to oppose government-mandated PLAs so all qualified contractors and construction workers have the ability to fairly compete and build America’s infrastructure,” said Ben Brubeck, ABC vice president of regulatory, labor and state affairs. “Ensuring fair and open competition on taxpayer-funded construction projects will ultimately result in savings to taxpayers, more opportunities for all qualified small businesses, minorities and women in the construction industry, and the construction of more quality infrastructure projects so America can Build Back Better and faster.”
Members can access ABC National’s press release on the campaign here and are encouraged to share this website and announcement with external stakeholders and potential coalition members interested in the status of PLA language as infrastructure talks continue.