This week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia rejected a challenge by Sierra Club to the Freeport LNG facility, a natural gas export project in Texas. Sierra Club’s strategy was fairly typical in the playbook of challenges to infrastructure projects: argue that the permitting agencies didn’t consider X, Y, or Z, and hope the court either forces the agency to start over or take more time to review. Every extra day of waiting increases the chances the project will be shelved. Read More
Today, the President issued an executive order to streamline the federal permitting approval process as a part of his infrastructure initiative. Specifically, the executive order will simplify the permitting process to provide for one federal decision that should be made within two years. Executive Order establishing disipline and accountablity in the enviornmental review and permitting process for infrastructure projects can be found here. Manufacturers welcome today’s news and have long called for federal leadership in reducing excessive red tape in the environmental permitting process for infrastructure projects. Accountability and transparency for all permitting decisions are critical to achieving a set of best practices and certainty that will encourage additional private sector investment and efficiency. Infrastructure should built in a period of a few years, not a decade.
Last week, employees at Nissan in Canton, Mississippi, sent a strong message by overwhelmingly deciding not to unionize. The campaign to unionize the Nissan employees lasted for months, but at the end of the day, the vote was clear and demonstrates that the positive culture and collaboration between employees and employers at Nissan should continue.
Nissan’s support of Mississippi’s manufacturing workers has helped the industry and the state’s economy grow again. Manufacturing in Mississippi now accounts for more than 143,000 jobs, with an annual compensation of more than $58,000. Manufacturing workers at the Nissan plant in Canton enjoy some of the highest wages, best benefits and most stable jobs in the state.
Nissan gives back to the community, donating more than $13.6 million to local charities and contributing more than 8,000 volunteer hours to more than 200 local organizations. Their investment in the facility has strengthened the county and state. The unemployment rate in Madison County is among the lowest in the state at 3.7 percent, while the region’s unemployment rate (5.3 percent) is less than the state average (6.6 percent) and the national average (5.5 percent).
The campaign is over, the vote has taken place, and now the decision of the employees should be respected so the employees and Nissan can continue on this path of success and good work for the Canton community.
By Cristian Barcan
Vice President of Sustainability and Industry Affairs, The Vinyl Institute
Executive Director, Vinyl Business and Sustainability Council
Proven support of sustainable development is the new business imperative. And it’s not just about being an environmentally responsible company, but also considering the social and economic impacts of your decisions on the communities in which you live and work and across your entire supply chain.
Indeed, a recent Unilever survey found that one-third of consumers today are making purchase decisions based on a company’s environmental and social impact. The company surveyed 20,000 adults across five countries, including the United States and United Kingdom.
Need more proof that you need to embed sustainability? It’s not just consumers asking. Stakeholders and financial markets are asking questions about a wide range of non-financial business drives (e.g., human rights, labor rights, anti-corruption) and looking for this information to be included in annual reports. Moreover, there is a growing list of exchanges that have adopted environmental, social and governance disclosure rules.
Companies must not only embrace the idea of sustainability, but also walk the walk.
Your sustainability journey starts with data.
When it comes to your business, you may think you know what people care about. You might have innovated on the factory floor to mitigate chemical emissions or invested in more sustainable product packaging. Perhaps you have a carpooling initiative or a telework policy to reduce your company’s transportation footprint. You’ve written the story on your blog, put out a press release and maybe even gotten some publicity for your efforts. All good. But what if people don’t care about your employees’ commuting habits but are really concerned about how much oil and gas you’re using shipping products to market?
You have to know what your key stakeholders really want.
Every business operates with a certain amount of anecdotal knowledge. To take your business down a truly sustainable pathway, you need to move from “how do you know” to “here’s how we know.” You need the proof points. You need to undertake a materiality assessment.
The importance of mapping hotspots.
A materiality study is a process for obtaining an overall snapshot of how your company or industry is doing in the environmental, social and economic spheres—and where it could do better. The aim of such a study is to identify the “hotspots,” changes (e.g., emissions, wastewater use) you can put in place quickly to have the biggest immediate payback.
Step 1 in a materiality assessment is to identify the major categories of importance to your company. Think of it as a spreadsheet with columns for the major steps in your supply chain and rows broken down by category. Step 2 is research. This research should start with a literature review to understand what has been published or said about you by your many stakeholders. As you do this, you can start to count the number of times that people focused on “emissions to air,” for example, versus “water use.” Following the literature review, it’s important to interview key internal and external stakeholders to get fresh insights into how different audiences perceive your business and to test your hotspot assumptions against the literature review and what others tell you does and does not matter to them.
Your materiality assessment will give you the data your company needs to make informed decisions about how to prioritize your sustainability efforts.
Led by the Vinyl Business and Sustainability Council (VBSC), the vinyl industry is undertaking its first materiality study. Because it’s an industry-wide initiative rather than a company-specific one, our materiality assessment will include information across nine distinct market segments. The VBSC is hoping to have preliminary results this fall and a clearer picture of our hotspots and where to focus next.
A new Oliver Wyman report just released demonstrates the Health Insurance Tax (HIT) will result in higher health insurance premiums totaling $22 billion for more than 100 million Americans nationwide. This ACA tax will be paid by many, including those who are “fully insured,” meaning those employers who work directly with insurance brokers to purchase employee health plans. Even retirees who are accessing insurance through Medicare Advantage programs will be hit by the HIT.
For manufacturers who are fully insured and those purchasing individual plans, this tax only adds to rising costs and higher premiums. Joe Eddy, president and CEO of Eagle Manufacturing, told his story before the House Education and the Workforce Committee earlier this year. He explained the ACA taxes and compliance burdens “have been costly, disruptive and distracting from the things we are good at doing as manufacturers.”
According to the Oliver Wyman report summarized here, the HIT could raise the cost of premiums by an additional $540 for employees’ families receiving health benefits from fully insured larger employers. Small business owners and their employees could shoulder an additional $500 for family coverage as a result of the HIT. These cost increases are preventable if Congress acts. Manufacturers provide competitive health benefits to attract and maintain skilled employees and because manufacturers know it’s the right thing to do. Congress should be making it easier to provide insurance, not more difficult.
Regrettably, it’s not just the HIT. The medical device tax—another tax that discourages innovation, growth and job creation—is ready to go into effect next year. In 2015, a temporary suspension of the 2.3 percent excise tax on medical device manufacturers was enacted after 29,000 jobs were lost as a result of the misguided tax. However, that two-year relief runs out at the end of 2017, making full repeal of this tax critical to manufacturers of medical devices. Manufacturers support immediate action to permanently repeal the medical device tax to prevent this tax from eliminating jobs and hurting local economies in all 50 states.
It was unfortunate that the Senate did not pass major health care reform legislation in July, but manufacturers urge the Senate not to give up efforts. Both the House and Senate must advance opportunities to address the burdensome taxes associated with the ACA because the deadlines are around the corner and the clock is ticking.
This morning, the Senate is voting on H.R. 2430, the Food and Drug Administration Reauthorization Act of 2017 (FDARA), hopefully with the affirmative action of sending the bill to President Donald Trump’s desk. The bill was passed by the House of Representatives with overwhelming bipartisan support in July.
As noted in a National Association of Manufacturers’ letter to the Senate, “FDARA is the ultimate public–private partnership that supports patients who need lifesaving medical treatments while promoting science, research and technological innovation.”
Manufacturers in America lead the nation in research and development (R&D), driving more innovation than any other sector. Pharmaceutical manufacturers, in particular, account for nearly one-third of all manufacturing R&D. In turn, the United States is a global leader in the development of medical breakthroughs.
Reauthorization of the FDA’s user-fee program would support the research pipeline and accelerate the development of new medicines and treatments. The NAM supports the Senate’s effort to act quickly in voting to reauthorize FDARA as it stands before adjourning for recess. Any delay to this critical legislation would jeopardize America’s position as a global leader in medical discovery.
Today, we applaud the House Education and Workforce Subcommittee Chairman Bradley Byrne (R-AL), along with Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) and Congressmen Henry Cuellar (D-TX) and Luis Correa (D-CA) for introducing the Save Local Business Act, which undoes the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) 2015 unfavorable case decision in Browning-Ferris Industries (BFI). The Board, in BFI, overturned decades of case precedent on what constitutes a joint employer and significantly expanded the joint-employer standard to employers who exercise “indirect, potential or unexercised control” over another entity, overturning the old standard of “direct control.” The repercussion of this new standard has resulted in nearly two years of uncertainty among manufacturers as to whether or not their business relationships were at risk to new liabilities. The Save Local Business Act restores the 1984 standard and codifies it into the National Labor Relations Act and the Fair Labor Standards Act to prevent any future reversals.
The BFI case is just another example of uncertainty, which is unfortunately commonplace within today’s labor policy. Not only have stable and well-established policies been upset by new regulations, but the NLRB has also taken it upon itself to overturn decades of labor law precedent without any provocation or change that would necessitate it. Manufacturers are left, once again, in a state of the unknown, and rather than running their businesses and creating more jobs, employers are left with having to shift resources to deciphering the impact of these new policies.
As evidenced by the bipartisan bill introduced today, this is not a Republican or Democrat issue, but rather an employer issue that spans across the country to all industry sectors and impacts companies of all sizes. We thank Chairman Byrne and Chairwoman Foxx for their leadership on this and other labor issues and for their continued commitment to U.S. business owners to fix the problems created by misguided labor policies of the past eight years.
Efforts to stop the impacts of the onerous Health Insurance Tax (HIT) must continue as the Senate debates health care legislation. This $100 billion tax levied on fully insured health plans is paid by consumers and, if left unaddressed, will be a shock to retirees on Medicare Advantage and Part D plans as well as employers, individuals and families who purchase off-the-shelf health care plans. That tax will go into effect next year.
Manufacturers are fully behind repealing the “Cadillac” tax, the medical device tax, the health insurance tax and the pharmaceutical tax as well as reducing the burden of the employer mandate. The National Association of Manufacturers sent a key-vote letter to the Senate on Wednesday in support of Amendment 271 to underscore the importance of action on these issues. Unfortunately, the amendment failed in a 45–55 vote.
A full repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will help employers contain rising health care costs and provide much-needed predictability so that manufacturers can continue providing quality health care to employees. Manufacturers encourage the Senate to unlock the stranglehold of the ACA on manufacturers.
Manufacturing workers at the Nissan plant in Canton, Mississippi, enjoy some of the highest wages, best benefits and most stable jobs in the state. Nissan gives back to the community—donating more than $13.6 million to local charities—and its investment in the facility has strengthened the city and state.
Now, outside interests want to disrupt this positive work environment and community relationship. The United Auto Workers (UAW) is pushing for dramatic changes at the plant—encouraging workers to cast votes on unionization without any real benefit and many downsides.
The National Association of Manufacturers’ partner organization in Mississippi, the Mississippi Manufacturers Association, lays out the details here. The future of manufacturing workers in Canton could be negatively impacted by the UAW’s actions. Everyone involved, especially the local community, should be concerned. If something isn’t broken, why is an outside group trying to fix it?
The Senate Finance Committee today approved the nomination of tax expert David Kautter to be assistant treasury secretary for tax policy, clearing the way for Senate confirmation of the nominee to a post where he will play a key role in the tax reform debate.
Over the past several months, tax reform meetings between the House, Senate and administration have heated up and having Kautter in place at Treasury will bring additional technical expertise to these discussions and hopefully help speed up the process. As a liaison to the IRS, he will also play a major role in the current effort underway to repeal or rewrite a number of tax rules issued during the previous administration.
Kautter, whose nomination was put forth by President Donald Trump in May, is extremely well qualified for the job. He serves as partner-in-charge of RSM’s Washington national tax practice. Earlier in his career, he was managing director of the Kogod Tax Center and executive-in-residence at the Kogod School of Business at American University. Before holding this position, he spent more than 30 years at Ernst & Young, serving as director of national tax for more than 13 years.
Advancing pro-growth tax reform and rolling back anti-manufacturing tax regulation are two top priorities for the National Association of Manufacturers, and time is running out on both. Having Kautter in place as the assistant treasury secretary for tax policy will be key to advancing these two initiatives. We strongly urge the Senate to confirm his nomination without delay.