ABC Member Testifies Before House Small Business Committee:
Today, Annie Mecias-Murphy, co-owner and president of Associated Builders and Contractors member JA&M Developing Corp., headquartered in Pembroke Pines, Florida, testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Small Business Committee Subcommittee on Contracting and Infrastructure on the negative impacts that the Biden administration’s infrastructure plan would have on small business contractors.
Mecias-Murphy testified on behalf of ABC and serves on the board of directors for the association’s Florida East Coast Chapter. In her testimony, she urged Congress to invest in America’s infrastructure, ensure that small construction businesses are not excluded from the competitive bidding process for federal infrastructure projects and expand workforce development opportunities in the construction industry.
You may view ABC’s press release on the hearing here and full replay of the hearing here.
Update—OSHA Announces COVID-19 Healthcare Emergency Temporary Standard:
Today, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced a COVID-19 Healthcare Emergency Temporary Standard, which focuses requirements on healthcare workers that are most likely to have contact with someone infected with COVID-19. The ETS establishes new requirements for settings where employees provide healthcare or health care support services, including skilled nursing homes and home healthcare, with some exemptions for healthcare providers who screen out patients who may have COVID-19.
The Construction Industry Safety Coalition, which ABC is a steering committee member, issued a release stating:
“The Construction Industry Safety Coalition is pleased that the Biden administration and OSHA listened to the concerns and recommendations of the construction industry in formulating a COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard. OSHA made the right decision to issue an ETS to cover tasks associated with high exposure risk levels and not construction operations, which are generally low risk.”
Read the release.
Staff is currently reviewing the OSHA COVID-19 Healthcare ETS with counsel and will provide further details. Note: it is important for ABC members who perform work at health care facilities to be aware that they may be impacted by the ETS. While it is not entirely clear at this time, ABC encourages its members involved in health care facility work to consult counsel.
OSHA also updated its Jan. 29 guidance on Protecting Workers: Guidance on Mitigating and Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in the Workplace, which applies to non-healthcare employers. The summary of changes as of June 10 include: focusing protections on unvaccinated and otherwise at-risk workers, encouraging COVID-19 vaccination and adding links to guidance with the most up-to-date content.
House Passes Partisan Surface Transportation Bill and Senate Bipartisan Group Reaches Tentative Deal:
Today, Democrats on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee passed a partisan, ABC-opposed $547 billion package out of committee, sending the bill to potential consideration on the House floor later this summer. ABC sent a letter to the committee highlighting key amendments we supported and express overall concerns with the partisan nature of the legislation.
The bipartisan House Problem Solvers Caucus released its own infrastructure plan this week as well, which would cost $1.25 trillion, including $762 billion in new spending, but did not say how it would pay for the investments.
Additionally, a bipartisan group of U.S. Senators reached a tentative agreement on an infrastructure package, releasing a statement calling it a “realistic, compromise framework to modernize our nation’s infrastructure and energy technologies,” according to the joint statement released today. The plan “would be fully paid for and not include tax increases,” the senators added. However, Senate Finance Chairman Democrat Ron Wyden has said that the bipartisan negotiations have produced nothing acceptable to Democrats and it is time do an infrastructure bill under budget reconciliation. ABC will continue to monitor these proposals and the impact it could have on ABC members and our nation’s construction industry.
ABC Pushes for Removal of 232 Tariffs on Steel and Aluminum:
Yesterday, ABC joined the Coalition for Metal Manufacturers and Users and 33 organizations in a letter to the President urging him to terminate the Section 232 steel and aluminum tariffs on our national security and trade allies. The associations’ letter builds on a separate letter from 300-plus U.S. manufacturing companies who last month requested that the Biden administration put an end to these tariffs, which are damaging a wide range of U.S. businesses. You can also view an article on the issue here.
Biden-Harris Administration Reiterate Support for Restrictive Labor Standards in Efforts to Compete With China:
Today, the Biden-Harris Administration announced key findings from the reviews directed under Executive Order (E.O.) 14017 “America’s Supply Chains,” as well as immediate actions the Administration will take to strengthen American supply chains to promote economic security, national security, and “good-paying, union jobs here at home.”
The report, authored by the White House, assesses supply chain vulnerabilities across four key products: semiconductor manufacturing and advanced packaging; large capacity batteries, like those for electric vehicles; critical minerals and materials; and pharmaceuticals and advanced pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs). The recommendations from review also reiterate the administration’s support for restrictive labor standards that exclude non-union employers, including in automotive battery production and manufacturing and mining, where the White House report states:
“Requiring strong labor protections, including prevailing wage requirements, use of Project Labor Agreements and community hire on construction projects, union neutrality policies for employers, and a ban on mandatory arbitration agreements, as relevant to the proposed scope of work.”
Another of many recommendations from the report to rebuild our production and innovation capabilities was to use immediate administrative authorities to support an ecosystem of producers and innovators including small and medium enterprises and skilled workers:
“Specifically, work with industry and labor to create pathways to quality jobs, with a free and fair choice to join a union, through sector-based community college partnerships, apprenticeships and on-the-job training: The Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA) should support sector-based pathways to jobs, for example in the semiconductor industry. We recommend that the Administration use ETA funds to work with industry and labor, community colleges, and non-profit partners to support pathways to advanced manufacturing employment through Registered Apprenticeship programs and by supporting other labor-management training programs.”
President Biden signed Executive Order (E.O.) 14017 on Feb. 24, 2021 directing the U.S. government to undertake a comprehensive review of critical U.S. supply chains to identify risks, address vulnerabilities and develop a strategy to promote resilience.
In response to the report, this week the administration also announced a new "Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force to tackle near-term bottlenecks" in various industries including semiconductors and home building & construction. We expect to see similar recommendations from this ask force which is being led by Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.
PRO Act Headlines:
Below are some recent news headlines on the dangers of the PRO Act, including an op-ed from ABC’s President & CEO Mike Bellaman:
The PRO Act Would Kill Worker Choice and Career Dreams
The Washington Examiner
June 9, 2021
The truth is, since 1947, workers in the United States have had the freedom of choice to join a union through a fair and private ballot process, …Unfortunately, the Protecting the Right to Organize Act would fundamentally eliminate all of these choices by forcing workers to join a union, overturning "right to work" laws in 27 states, and ensuring that workers’ private information is handed over to the unions without their consent.
PRO Act Could Chill Attorney-Client Interactions
Shari Klevens, Sarah Phillips
June 9, 2021
Proposed legislation H.R. 842, the Protecting the Right to Organize Act, long feared by attorneys, is one step closer to becoming reality. The PRO Act, which recently passed in the U.S. House of Representatives, would, among other things, amend the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act, or LMRDA, to require employers and their advisers — including lawyers and law firms — to file public reports with the U.S. Department of Labor disclosing any arrangements that indirectly persuade employees regarding union organizing or collective bargaining.
Second UAW President Sentenced to 28 Months in Prison in Union Corruption Probe
June 10, 2021
The immediate past president of the United Auto Workers was sentenced Thursday to 28 months in prison for his part in a scheme with other leaders to steal as much as $1.5 million in union funds for lavish trips, golfing, alcohol and other luxuries. Gary Jones is the second UAW president to be sentenced as part of a multiyear corruption probe into the prominent American labor union.
Manchin’s Favorite Bills Start Colliding With His Favorite Senate Rule
June 9, 2021
More Manchin-backed bills could be on the chopping block in the coming months, such as the PRO Act, a bill expanding labor protections that Manchin endorsed in April but which lacks any semblance of GOP support in the Senate.
PRO Act is Bad for Alaska Businesses, Workers
Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman
June 10, 2021
Democrats in Washington, D.C. are trying to push through massive changes to federal labor law that will hurt local businesses, workers, and communities across the state. Legislation misleadingly known as the “Protecting the Right to Organize Act” (PRO Act) would disrupt employer-employee relations while undermining the ability of local businesses to maintain their operations. In doing so, it would threaten economic opportunities across Alaskan industries, from tech companies to local fishing, energy, and tourism businesses that keep our economy afloat.
How Ted Cruz Can Stop MLB From Locking Out Players
Los Angeles Times
June 10, 2021
Cruz and the Senate could take the lockout card off the table. Under the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, lockouts would be banned, unless employees already had gone on strike. The players’ union has publicly supported the PRO Act. The league has said nothing, aware that the number of senators currently committed to vote yes is not enough to win.
Register Today for the 2021 ABC Virtual Legal Conference on Thursday, June 24:
Join ABC leaders, legal and regulatory experts and government officials as they share the latest developments in labor and employment law and their impact on merit shop contractors. Learn more about the seven content-rich virtual sessions!