The Year of Living Dangerously

By December 30, 2011Labor Unions, Regulations

At the end of 2011 it’s apparent that our economic recovery has been modest at best. A robust economy can be difficult to achieve under even the best circumstances, but it is made even more difficult when faced with a hostile environment for private enterprise. Manufacturers should be freed from unnecessarily burdensome regulations if they are to lead the economy. Efforts to foster economic growth and job creation have been stymied by an avalanche of overregulation from government agencies. A year-end review of the regulatory action taken by government agencies tells a sad story – one that manufacturers hope will reverse itself in the coming year.

This year alone we saw the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Department of Transportation (DOT), and other agencies place more obstacles in the way of job creation and insert themselves further into the day to day decisions of manufacturers. Here are just a few examples:

2011 was a banner year for overreach for the NLRB, including the ambush elections rule, the decision in the Specialty Healthcare case, and the now-resolved complaint against the Boeing Company. These actions from the board have the potential to create disruptive and adversarial relationships between employers and employees – a result that simply isn’t conducive to growth. The NAM is currently suing the NLRB to prevent the implementation of the poster rule, a rule that has been delayed repeatedly after requests by the judge to allow time for a decision in the case. An NAM survey about the NLRB’s agenda revealed that nearly 70 percent of respondents said the NLRB’s actions will hurt job creation.

The EPA has put forth new rules and regulations that come with high price tags and puts hundreds of thousands of jobs at risk.  The costly and harmful Boiler MACT regulations checks in at $14.5 billion and threatens approximately 230,000 jobs. Sadly, it seems that the EPA may have outdone themselves with the Utility MACT rule – one of the most expensive regulations in EPA history –would have a draconian effect on power plants across the nation. According to the EPA’s own analysis, the Utility MACT regulation could cost more than $100 billion in the coming years and destroy an average of 183,000 jobs per year for the next decade.

The DOT pulled the rug out from under manufacturers that built their logistical operations based on the current trucking hours of service rule and have invested heavily in compliance since their implementation. Released just last week, the revised final rule will have a negative impact on manufacturers’ supply chains, distribution operations and productivity. To change these rules and limit the flexibility of manufacturers without sufficient reasoning is a mistake and will impede the ability of manufacturers to invest, grow and create jobs.

For manufacturers, a year living under the yoke of this overregulation is a year of living dangerously – hopefully Washington will come to its senses before it’s too late.

Jay Timmons

Jay Timmons

Jay Timmons is president and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), the largest manufacturing association in the United States representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector.
Jay Timmons

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