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Human Resources

House Moves to Fix Joint-Employer Standard

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

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.

“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.

 

Report from Denver: Bipartisanship and Good Causes

By | Human Resources, Policy Experts | No Comments

(Note: NAM’s Executive Vice President Jay Timmons is at the National Democratic Convention in Denver this week, and he’ll be blogging events, adding his insights as both a veteran of Senate and campaign politics and as a top representative of the U.S. manufacturing economy.)

Ran into Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa at the “Frosted Pink” reception for breast cancer awareness.  Seeing him reminded me of the NAM’s work with him, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and others on the ADA Amendments Act.

The ADA bill responds to court rulings over the years that have narrowed the application of the Americans with Disabilities Act, making sure that people with disabilities have the full opportunity to work, while ensuring employer flexibility when managing the workforce.

We are hopeful that the Senate will take up this important bipartisan compromise when Congress returns in September. It’s the right thing to do.

This is another example of how non-traditional allies can work together for the good of the country.

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