Human Resources

“The Room Where It Happens”?

By | Human Resources, Shopfloor Main, Shopfloor Policy | No Comments

The Senate HELP Committee cancelled a mark-up of the Senate version of Perkins CTE reauthorization this week. Perhaps negotiations are ongoing and a bipartisan agreement will emerge, but the window for action is quickly closing.

Manufacturers have advanced key issues in the 114th Congress, even during a time when some of the most contentious factions exist within the House of Representatives. Earlier this month, the House compromised to approve (405-5) similar legislation that the Senate is struggling to agree on during this compressed September schedule. This is a program in need of positive change, and legislating does not need to be this challenging.

The Senate needs to put its differences aside and work together to get Perkins done. If the Senate does not put skin in the game soon, it may well be game over for Perkins CTE reauthorization in this congressional round—leaving the next Congress to start from square one. So much work has been accomplished to get to this point, it would be unfortunate to jettison this important effort that supports the next generation of manufacturing workers.

Manufacturers are actively working on solutions to close a skills gap that is hindering productivity and the overall ability for American manufacturers to be more innovative and competitive in the global market. They continue to engage on a local level to communicate the skills they are looking for. They are partnering with educational institutions to develop programs and working with local governments to drive the change needed to remedy the skills gap. Without an updated Perkins—which reflects the needs of the modern employer—they lose their competitive edge.

“When you got skin in the game, you stay in the game. But you dont get a win unless you play in the game. Oh, you get love for it, you get hate for it. You get nothing if you wait for it, wait for it, wait for it…”  Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton

Key Workforce Development Bill Passes House; Now Time for Senate Vote

By | Human Resources, Shopfloor Main, Shopfloor Policy | No Comments

Today the House approved H.R. 5587, the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (aka Perkins Act), sponsored by Reps. Glenn Thompson (R-PA) and Katherine Clark (D-MA). The Perkins Act aims to increase the quality of technical education through promotions of Career and Technical Education programs at the high school and college levels.

The NAM sent a key-vote letter to support this reauthorization, which updated past efforts to match the needs of employers and focus on in-demand occupations. It strengthens the use of industry-recognized credentials in educational programs to align with employers’ needs, putting it in harmony with the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. It also promotes work-based learning and allows funds to be used toward the purchase of needed manufacturing equipment as well as certification exams upon completion of training.

The NAM led a significant push by manufacturers to see this legislation move forward. A support letter was signed by nearly 500 member companies, affiliate organizations and other supporters showing the strong base of approval for this important legislation. In addition, many manufacturers and friends of manufacturing reached out directly to their members urging support.

The ability of manufacturers to succeed in the highly competitive global marketplace depends on access to an educated, diverse, inclusive, flexible and knowledge-based workforce. American employees, in turn, need the education and skills to participate in a high-performance workforce for the robust and dynamic U.S. manufacturing economy. Skills gap surveys conducted by the NAM consistently underscore how a vast majority of American manufacturers are facing a serious shortage of qualified employees, which is taking an increasingly negative toll on American manufacturers’ ability to be innovative and productive. Reauthorization of the Perkins Act is a strong step toward addressing that gap.

The NAM looks forward to working with the Senate in the coming weeks to ensure that the Perkins Act is reauthorized before the end of the year.

NAM Files Lawsuit to Protect Workplace Safety

By | Human Resources, Manufacturers’ Center for Legal Action, Shopfloor Legal, Shopfloor Policy | No Comments

The Manufacturers’ Center for Legal Action filed a lawsuit on Friday, July 8, 2016, to challenge the Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) workplace injury and illness New Rule. The New Rule places unreasonable restrictions on employer programs to increase workplace safety. As noted in our press release, not only does OSHA lack statutory authority to enforce this rule, but the agency has also failed to recognize the infeasibility, costs and real-world impacts of what it preposterously suggests is just a mere tweak to a major regulation.

The NAM’s complaint challenges the New Rule’s prohibitions and limits on employer safety incentive programs and drug testing programs. Incident-based safety incentive programs and post-accident drug testing programs help employers promote workplace safety, which is supposed to be OSHA’s primary mission. Instead, out of a misguided zeal to improve accuracy of reporting on workplace injuries, OSHA has lost sight of the importance of reducing the number and severity of injuries themselves. Properly designed incident-based employer safety incentive programs are the most effective tool to get employees and supervisors immediately invested in workplace safety. Through these programs, employees are continuously motivated to improve their environment and to look out for their safety and the safety of others and to eliminate unsafe behaviors. The result is a dramatic decrease in accident frequency and severity.

By encouraging all employees, including supervisors, to improve workplace safety, incident-based safety incentive programs jump-start a change in culture that results in a prompt and sustained decrease in accident frequency and severity. Without these incident-based safety incentive programs, instituting a culture of safety in the workplace is much more slow and difficult and seldom leads to the same dramatic reductions in serious accidents. The New Rule is unlawful and must be vacated because it exceeds OSHA’s statutory authority; was adopted without observance of the procedures required by law; and because the challenged provisions, and their underlying findings and conclusions, are arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion and otherwise not in accordance with law.

In addition, on July 12, 2016, the NAM filed a memorandum and emergency motion for a preliminary injunction seeking to prohibit OSHA from implementing the New Rule, which will otherwise take effect on August 10, 2016, causing irreparable harm to many thousands of employers across the country. The New Rule irreparably harms employers and employees by making their workplaces less safe and increasing the likelihood of workplace injuries and fatalities. If OSHA’s rule is not struck down, manufacturers will have to make a “Hobson’s choice” between eliminating or drastically restricting highly effective incident-based safety programs and/or drug testing programs, thereby increasing the number of employee injuries and even fatalities in the workplace; or else risking exposure to increased OSHA citations, inspections and penalties if the safety programs are not removed. OSHA’s main goal is to eliminate or minimize the frequency and severity of workplace injuries, illnesses and deaths—this misguided New Rule does not accomplish that goal.

NAM Supports Perkins Reauthorization

By | Human Resources, Shopfloor Policy | No Comments

Tomorrow, the House Education and the Workforce Committee will be considering H.R. 5587, the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, sponsored by Reps. G.T. Thompson (R-PA) and Katherine Clark (D-MA), which reauthorizes the Perkins Act. The NAM urges swift passage of this legislation and is looking forward to consideration by the full House of Representatives.

Manufacturers are looking to aggressively pursue policies that will help maintain and strengthen the future of America’s manufacturing base. The NAM supports efforts to educate and train the next generation on the manufacturing workforce through efforts such as promotion of career and technical education through the reauthorization of the Perkins Act.

The legislation improves employer engagement in the workforce development and training system by aligning the definitions and functions of the program to the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, reducing the bureaucracy that can often hinder employer engagement. In addition, it places significant emphasis on industry-recognized credentials, focuses on jobs in demand in a given geographic area and promotes work-based learning.

The NAM is pleased to see that this legislation allows funds authorized under the Perkins Act to be used to purchase manufacturing equipment and pay for certification exams upon completion of training. These recommended changes to existing law are a significant improvement that will allow for more advanced and aligned training for the manufacturing sector.

The Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act is a significant step toward allowing manufacturers to improve engagement in the workforce development system, and the NAM urges the committee to support the bill and pass this important piece of legislation.


Looking for Leadership on Labor Issues

By | Human Resources, Policy Experts, Shopfloor Policy | No Comments

This year manufacturers have seen executive orders, proposed regulations and NLRB decisions in attempts to“fix” our labor system, but instead these actions have created more bureaucracy and hurdles for employers, employees and manufacturers. Last night, Congress unveiled a new spending agreement that included many key policy “riders.” In a missed opportunity to address key issues for manufacturers labor issues were largely left out of the deal.

As the year comes to a close, manufacturers urge lawmakers address these key labor issues in 2016: Read More

ShopTalk: We’re Talking Employee Benefits Tax

By | General, Health Care, Human Resources, Shopfloor Main | No Comments

Also known as the “Cadillac Tax,” this was meant to be a health care tax on “excessive” heath care plans (or on high benefit health care plans) to help pay for the Affordable Care Act. Unfortunately for employers who want to offer and provide good healthcare options for their employees, this tax will create higher costs and lower quality heath care.

Get the latest updates on how decisions made in Washington are affecting manufacturers and their workers every Thursday by watching our ShopTalk video blog series.

Contracting By Executive Order

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By Joe Trauger and Amanda Woods

President Obama used the Labor Day holiday this year as an opportunity to announce yet another initiative he cannot get through Congress by placing the burden and impact of bad policy on the backs of businesses wishing to contract with the federal government. While the announcement was not a surprise, after all this is something he’s done more of than any previous president in history – use the federal contracting process as a laboratory of bad ideas in labor policy – it demonstrates the ineptitude of an administration so driven to do what sounds good to the heart rather than what is actually good practice.

The President’s latest Executive Order would require all federal contractors to provide at least 7 days of paid leave under similar conditions as the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Unfortunately, we have seen this pattern with the President, time and time again.  When a policy proposal cannot move through Congress, with a stroke of a pen the President exercises the wide, and some may say abusive, discretion over federal contractors and forces upon them what otherwise cannot be achieved. This appears to be done with little thought about whether it may be burdensome or even necessary. For instance, raising the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour for federal contractors.  While there has been much talk about whether there should be an increase, the bills in both the House and Senate have failed. Rather than accept the will of Congress, the Administration thrusts the issue upon federal contractors, some of which will not be able to absorb or adjust accordingly due to market constraints.

It is not just minimum wage, blacklisting, or this latest policy on paid sick leave. President Obama has issued no less than 11 Executive Orders placing additional requirements on businesses who wish to contract with the federal government. These new requirements cover many aspects of the day-to-day operations of a business and have no bearing on whether the federal contracting process is fair, efficient, or yields the best results for the American taxpayer. In the end, this latest action will have little impact on larger federal contractors who are extremely likely to offer paid leave already. No, the greatest impact will be felt by the small businesses who are trying to offer their products and services to a government that more and more often refuses to see that bad ideas have consequences – or worse, a government that doesn’t care whether there are consequences at all.

Overtime Proposal Misses the Mark

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On July 6, the Department of Labor proposed a new income threshold to determine who would be eligible to receive overtime pay. The current threshold of $23,660 a year, or $455 per week, has been in place since 2004 and we have to go back to 1975 in order to look at the time before that. In total, the income threshold for overtime has been increased seven times since it was first implemented in 1938. It has never been indexed to inflation, wage rates, or any measure. The threshold being proposed would increase to $50,440 a year, or $970 per week, and then indexed to either the 40th percentile of all salaried employees, or to the Consumer Price Index (CPI-U). If the $50,440 figure strikes you as a bit high and wide of the strike-zone, you would be right. In the chart below, you can see why. Read More

You’re Demoted!

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Donald Trump turned one of the most feared phrases in the workplace into a punchline. As the star of The Apprentice, Trump famously critiqued contestants in a board room and concluded by telling one of them, “You’re fired.” With the release of a new proposed regulation on overtime, it seems President Obama is rebranding the show’s tagline to “You’re demoted!” Read More

Blacklisting Regulations Proposed

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Today, the Department of Labor and the Federal Acquisition Regulation Council announced the proposed regulations to implement President Obama’s “Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Order.” The proposed regulations are the culmination of nearly a year’s work by the agencies in drafting what are perhaps the most politically motivated changes to the federal procurement process in decades. The last attempt to inject such partisan politics into procurement happened at the end of the Clinton Administration in 1999 and 2000. Those regulations were rolled back in 2001. Back then it was called “High-Road Contracting,” but the intent was the same. Read More