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Rosario Palmieri

Manufacturers Say Get the Turnaround Started at the Labor Department: Confirm President-Elect Trump’s Nominee

By | Regulations, Shopfloor Main, Shopfloor Policy | No Comments

Manufacturers can’t wait for Inauguration Day. Like the first hours of New Year’s Day and baseball’s Opening Day, anything feels possible. And when you’ve been battling eight years of volatility and policy uncertainty in the rules governing the workplace, a new way forward is exactly what we need—to help American workers and families with more jobs and higher pay.

A recent National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) study calculated the cost of recent labor regulations to the economy to be $85 billion, more than 400 million hours of paperwork and up to 155,000 jobs lost over the next 10 years. That’s more jobs lost than the entire populations of Green Bay and La Crosse, Wis., combined.

The right type of change starts with a confirmation vote—to get the U.S. Labor Department working smarter and functioning at the level Americans expect and deserve. The Senate should move swiftly to confirm President-elect Donald Trump’s choice for labor secretary, Andrew Puzder. The president-elect was wise to choose the leader who turned around Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr., saving not only brick-and-mortar businesses but also jobs that jumpstart better lives. There’s no reason to delay another turnaround—at the Labor Department—that needs to start on day one.

How bad has it been? Here are some of the worst-offending policies:

  • President Obama’s Labor Department has hindered the ability of employers, particularly smaller-sized firms, to seek advice on how to comply with labor laws, which can harm manufacturing workers, as much as their employers.
  • The administration tried to more than double the minimum salary threshold for employees exempted from overtime pay and add a costly automatic increase provision. Small and rural businesses were hit especially hard by the change—and the rule failed to account for the varied types of work done by affected employees and the increasing need for flexible work arrangements.
  • They’ve prevented employers from incentivizing safe workplace practices.
  • And they’ve tried to turn back the clock on labor law, refusing to allow modernizations to take place that best fit the modern workplace.

It’s time for more balance: a labor policy that can achieve both a positive work environment and create new job openings in manufacturing and in other sectors for all Americans. It’s the type of labor policy we lay out in the NAM’s new “Competing to Win” blueprint on labor policy and the agenda we’re confident President-elect Trump and Andrew Puzder can get working on right away—if senators act in manufacturing’s and the people’s interest.

Make Regulations and Our Legal System Great Again

By | Regulations, Shopfloor Main, Shopfloor Policy | No Comments

Regulatory and legal reform are key components of our “Competing to Win” agenda, and with a new Congress and new president taking office next month, we are proposing detailed solutions to create a smarter and efficient system of governance and eliminate government-imposed barriers to economic growth and job creation.

President-elect Donald Trump has asserted that regulatory reform is a “cornerstone of the Trump administration” and that his team will be “committed to regulatory reform that will produce sensible regulations that allow America to be great.” This is music to manufacturers’ ears.

Manufacturers Face an Immense Regulatory Burden

  • In constant 2009 dollars, federal spending for regulatory agencies tripled from $16.46 billion ($72.44 per person) in 1980 to $50.09 billion ($155.84 per person) in 2015.
  • Through October 2016, the current administration has issued 637 major new regulations, translating to a new major regulation once every 4.46 days.
  • These regulations are placed on top of the thousands of requirements with which manufacturers must already comply, and regulators make no effort to repeal or modify duplicative or unnecessary requirements that exist.

Reforming Our Regulatory System Equals Jobs

  • Regulatory decisions must focus on outcomes to improve the quality of regulations: Agencies should be forced to thoughtfully examine existing regulations and their cumulative costs to improve the effectiveness of existing and new rules. Importantly, sound regulatory analysis should be strengthened and codified so that regulatory decisions are based on the best available science.
  • Regulators must be held accountable with improved oversight to improve the quality of the regulations they issue. Independent regulatory agencies should comply with universally accepted sound regulatory principles, and Congress should improve its oversight of all regulating agencies.
  • Fairness should be restored to our legal system so that manufacturers and individuals in need of relief do not fall victim to opportunism. There should be clear standards for liability, and disincentives for filing frivolous lawsuits should be reinstated.

We are urging President-elect Trump and our leaders in the government to listen to manufacturers and follow our roadmap to expanding our economy and reforming our system of governance. Regulatory and legal reform alone could dramatically improve companies’ ability to grow in America. We should not miss this opportunity.

This blog is part of the NAM’s 12 Days of Transition series, an effort to provide the presidential transition team and other Washington policymakers with a roadmap to bolster manufacturing in the United States. Read the other blogs in the series here.

Reforming Labor Regulations to Improve Job Opportunities

By | Shopfloor Main, Shopfloor Policy | No Comments

This level of volatility and policy uncertainty harms manufacturers and their employees who cannot rely on past reasonable interpretations of the law when planning to invest in new workers. Instead, issues that were thought to be previously settled have been up for grabs.

A recent National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) study calculated the cost of recent labor regulations to the economy:

  • $85 billion
  • More than 400 million hours of paperwork
  • Up to 155,000 jobs over the next 10 years

America faces a severe shortage of skilled workers to meet the current demand and projected future demand in manufacturing.

Unfortunately, labor policies from the Obama administration have made it harder to maintain and grow a flexible workforce to handle today’s manufacturing challenges. We need policies that support flexibility and innovation.

Elections do have consequences, and change may be on the horizon. Unfortunately, the degree to which the Obama administration has overturned longstanding labor law precedent is unlike anything we’ve ever seen.

To restore balance, the next administration should do the following:

  • Repeal unnecessarily costly rules that hamper job creation.
  • Appoint National Labor Relations Board members committed to the rule of law and fair treatment of employees and employers, who will rescind ill-informed rules and adjudications.
  • Take a new approach to encouraging good policies in the workplace, rather than attempting to “shame” companies.

The specifics are all laid out in the NAM’s new “Competing to Win” blueprint on labor policy, which we have shared directly with President-elect Donald Trump’s team.

Labor policy needs to adapt to modern workforce needs, rather than turn the clock back. The past eight years have taken us backward by well-established laws without any justification.

Employees, organized labor, management and lawmakers should collaborate in search of outcomes that deliver a positive work environment, opportunities for employee professional growth and safe and healthy facilities.

This blog is part of the NAM’s 12 Days of Transition series, an effort to provide the presidential transition team and other Washington policymakers with a roadmap to bolster manufacturing in the United States. Read the other blogs in the series here.

New Added Sugars Label Rule Risks Manufacturers’ Trade Secrets

By | Regulations, Shopfloor Policy | No Comments

On Friday, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a 1,000-page rule creating new requirements for nutrition labels. Manufacturers have serious concerns about the FDA’s new mandate to place “added sugars” on the list of nutrients declared on the facts panel.

Despite the FDA’s own admission that there is no nutritional difference between added sugars and naturally occurring sugars, the agency has issued a misguided mandate that is immensely burdensome for manufacturers. Consumers already have nutritional information about sugars. The addition of added sugars on the facts panel implies that a nutritional difference exists. This can actually misinform the public.

Manufacturers are also concerned about the burdensome recordkeeping and reporting requirements that would require the disclosure of protected and confidential information. The FDA’s demand that a manufacturer be forced to hand over proprietary information upon request to an inspector creates a dangerous precedent.

President Obama’s Executive Order 13563 reaffirms the principles for sound rulemaking, stating that our regulatory system “must be based on the best available science.” The FDA clearly has not developed this costly and unnecessarily burdensome regulation in accordance with this principle.

Legal Reform Means Jobs

By | Health Care | No Comments

The House of Representatives today passed H.R. 5, the Protecting Access to Healthcare (PATH) Act of 2012, by a vote of 223-181. Manufacturers applaud the important medical liability reform provisions in the bill that will lead to more manufacturing jobs. The NAM has long supported medical liability reform as it reduces the cost of health care insurance for employers and restores fairness to the legal system. Manufacturers in the U.S. are leading the world in innovation when it comes to developing life-saving technology that improves the longevity and quality of life. Our legal system can discourage innovation in the United States and can place our manufacturers at a global competitive disadvantage. Medical liability reform is a commonsense way to reduce health care costs and promote new products and technologies here at home.

The legislation would place a $250,000 cap on non-economic damages and limitations on the maximum amount awarded for punitive damages. The bill also would prohibit punitive damages, which produce inconsistent “jackpot justice” awards, for medical products that comply with Food and Drug Administration (FDA) standards, after all if you are complying with tough federal standards and licensing requirements how can you be acting with malice or gross neglect? H.R. 5 would establish a uniform and fair statute of limitations and would give courts the ability to limit attorneys’ excessive contingency fees to make sure that victims receive fair compensation.

The medical liability reforms of H.R. 5 are modeled after California’s longstanding and successful health care litigation reforms signed into law in 1976 by then and now current governor Jerry Brown. The California reforms have kept in check the rate of increase in medical liability premiums. Meanwhile, the rate of increase in malpractice premiums nationwide has skyrocketed at nearly three times the rate of increase in California. Medical liability reform is also beneficial for the bottom line of the federal government. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that the reform provisions of H.R. 5 will save the federal government $48.6 billion over ten years by reducing Medicare and Medicaid spending and lowering the cost of health insurance for federal workers.

This vote is a victory for manufacturing in America.  To see the NAM’s key vote letter on HR 5 click here.

Highway Bill Extension Critical to Manufacturers Competitiveness

By | Infrastructure | One Comment

This morning in a Rose Garden address President Obama called for Congress to pass an extension of the surface transportation and aviation programs which are critical to the daily transportation needs of manufacturers. Manufacturers welcome President Obama’s engagement and call for Congress to pass a bipartisan reauthorization which expires on September 30, as well as an extension of the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization which expires on September 16.  These critical national infrastructure programs require certainty and adequate funding levels to ensure the safety of the public, economic growth and jobs. 

Temporary extensions are not a long-term substitute; the Administration and Congress still need to act on a multi-year surface transportation reauthorization at robust funding levels and a multi-year reauthorization of our civil aviation programs.

The President’s announcement that federal agencies will be tasked to expedite environmental and permitting reviews of high-priority infrastructure projects that will create and sustain jobs now was a welcome first step.  Rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure will require additional and fundamental policy changes in how we finance, permit, build and manage our investments.  Manufacturers expect a bipartisan approach to these issues that will deliver results. 

As our international competitors continue to ramp up investments in transportation infrastructure from modernizing air traffic control systems to expanding highway and transit capacity to accommodate growth, the House and Senate in the coming months must fully embrace these important domestic initiatives that Americans require to keep manufacturers competitive and our economy moving.  Manufacturers grow when the country adopts meaningful policies that support economic growth and expansion.  

Rosario Palmieri is vice president for infrastructure, legal and regulatory policy.

Additional Regulatory Reforms Still Needed

By | Economy, Regulations | No Comments

The Administration’s announcement yesterday to cut several regulations is a step in the right direction. The President and his team recognize that unnecessary burdens placed on the economy can hinder job creation and economic development. The challenge remains to apply these principles consistently across the government to new and proposed regulation.

The net benefits of these reforms, however, could be swallowed up by new, unnecessarily costly regulations that the Administration is considering – the most egregious of which is the reconsideration of the national standards for Ozone.

This is an entirely discretionary action on the part of the EPA that is under consideration. Neither the courts nor Congress can be blamed if the Obama Administration decides to impose a new regulation that imperils 7.3 million jobs and adds $1 trillion in new costs annually between 2020 and 2030. This and an assortment of other EPA rules currently proposed or under consideration can have a devastating impact on job creation and the economy.

Manufacturers hope that this announcement is just the first of many signs that the White House takes these principles seriously and will not impose discretionary or unnecessary regulatory burdens on the economy. To demonstrate their seriousness about regulatory review and job creation, the White House should follow up with another announcement returning the Ozone rule to EPA to defer reconsideration until the next mandated review period. It would be better to stop a bad regulation early than to have to engage in a “look back” to fix it after the economy feels its negative effects.

Rosario Palmieri is vice president for infrastructure, legal and regulatory policy.

Update:

Press coverage on yesterday’s announcement:

House Debates Amendment to Block Executive Order on Disclosure

By | Regulations | No Comments

Today, Congressman Tom Cole (R-OK) introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act which would prohibit an executive branch agency from requiring federal contractors to disclose political contributions as a condition of participation. This amendment is a direct response to a draft Executive Order being considered by the Obama Administration which would link political contributions from companies with government contracts.

As proposed, the draft Executive Order brings politics to the forefront of the government contracting process, and creates the impression that any Administration could discriminate against businesses based on past political donations or engagement. The Cole Amendment would not allow an executive agency to require this kind of disclosure which would prevent companies from being unfairly discriminated against if they are bidding for a government contract. 

We are opposed to the current draft Executive Order and will continue to oppose any effort by the Administration to infringe on the rights of individuals which allows them to freely participate in the political process. 

The Cole Amendment was just debated on the House floor a short time ago and the vote could come this evening. We will post more information as it becomes available. 

Rosario Palmieri is vice president of infrastructure, legal and regulatory policy, National Association of Manufacturers.

House Panel Approves Reforms to Consumer Protection Law

By | Regulations | No Comments

Today the House Energy & Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing & Trade favorably reported out sensible reforms to the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act. Since the law’s passage in 2008, the CPSC has had to stay significant portions of the law to prevent several unintended consequences. The most troubling of those unintended effects was to ban safe children’s products like bicycles, ATVs, musical instruments and even library books. None of the supporters of the law believe that these actions were intentional, nor did they intend to eliminate the sale of all children’s products by charitable organizations like Goodwill.

Another unintended consequence has been the amount and cost of unnecessary testing which has forced some micro-businesses to close their doors and continues to provide costly uncertainty to small manufacturers throughout the supply chain. Additionally, the CPSC overreached on its implementation of a public database and failed to incorporate congressionally-mandated protections to prevent its improper use by trial lawyers and advocacy groups. The CPSC also failed to implement appropriate controls to prevent false information from being included in the database. The National Association of Manufacturers applauds the Subcommittee for this legislative effort and will continue to work with Democrats and Republicans on the Committee to ensure swift passage of needed reforms.

Rosario Palmieri is vice president for infrastructure, legal and regulatory policy, National Association of Manufacturers.

For Food Safety and Regulatory Certainty, House Should Pass S. 510

By | General, Regulations | 8 Comments

The Senate this week provided a strong and bipartisan 73-25 vote to pass S. 510, the Food Safety Modernization Act, and the House is up next to consider the bill. This is important legislation that can and should be enacted into law during the current lame-duck session of Congress.

The National Association of Manufacturers and other trade associations sent a letter to House leadership on Tuesday urging quick passage. Excerpt:

Strong food-safety legislation will reduce the risk of contamination and provide FDA with the resources and authorities the agency needs to help make prevention the focus of our food safety strategies. Among other things, S. 510 requires food companies to develop a food safety plan, improves the safety of imported food and food ingredients, and adopts a risk-based approach to inspection.

Manufacturers believe that the legislation strikes the right balance of additional authorities and resources for the Food and Drug Administration. Consumers should have confidence in our food safety and surveillance system and this legislation will further improve it.

Swift passage is also crucial to give companies clarity about the regulatory environment they will be facing in food manufacturing and processing, so that investments can be made in new technology and facilities. Without passage of this law, the industry will face continuing uncertainty which creates havoc for business planning and investment. One of the many elements necessary for economic recovery is regulatory certainty. Congress has the ability to provide a measure of that before it adjourns.

Rosario Palmieri is the National Association of Manufacturers’ vice president for infrastructure, legal and regulatory policy.