Construction Legislative Week in Review
www.agc.org June 13, 2013
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On the Inside
SMALL BUSINESS
AGC-Supported Small Business Reform Vote THIS WEEK
IMMIGRATION
Senate Begins Debate on Immigration Bill
LABOR
House Holds Hearing on Reforming Multiemployer Pension Plan System
SAFETY
New OSHA Interpretation Allows for Union Officials to Participate in Non-Union Site Inspections
FEDERAL CONTRACTING
AGC Opposes Dept. of Veterans Affairs Reverse Auction Use for Procuring Construction Services
AGC EVENTS
AGC to Host Webinar on Hispanic Construction Workforce
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SMALL BUSINESS
AGC-Supported Small Business Reform Vote THIS WEEK
 

On June 11, Rep. Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.), along with House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), House Small Business Committee Chairman Sam Graves (R-Mo.), and Reps. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) and Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), offered the AGC-supported Make Every Small Business Count Act of 2013 (H.R. 2232) as an amendment—Hanna Amendment #72—to the National Defense Authorization Act of 2014, H.R. 1960. The vote on this critical piece of small business legislation will occur later tonight or tomorrow.  Please take action now and urge your Congressman to support Hanna Amendment #72.

If enacted, the amendment would  help prime contractors fill subcontracting positions with the most qualified small businesses and allow for more small business participation at all tiers of subcontracting. Specifically, the legislation would allow prime contractors to count lower-tier small business subcontractors towards their small business goals. The current law only allows prime contractors to count first-tier small business subcontractors towards the goals.  AGC testified in support of H.R. 2232 before the House Small Business Committee in May.

Again, please take action now and urge your Representative to support Hanna Amendment #72.

For more information, please contact Jimmy Christianson at (703) 837-5325 or christiansonj@agc.org. Return to Top

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IMMIGRATION
Senate Begins Debate on Immigration Bill
Urge Your Senators to Eliminate Restrictions on the Construction Industry
 

On June 11, the Senate moved forward on debating the comprehensive immigration bill S. 744 – the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act. The debate in the Senate is expected to continue through the rest of the month as they debate and possibly vote on hundreds of amendments.  The final outcome of the legislation remains uncertain as any bill to pass the Senate must receive 60 votes and, therefore, a handful of Republicans would ultimately have to support it if it is to pass.

Throughout the debate, Republicans will try and offer amendments to strengthen the border security provisions of the bill and ensure the border is further strengthen before any of the legalization provisions for the undocumented could proceed.

The bill mandates e-verify; requires photo identification as part of the documentation; eliminates the patchwork of local immigration laws; provides new avenues for legal immigration; and creates a legal status for undocumented workers currently in the United States. The bill also prohibits employers from “knowingly” hiring an undocumented worker.  In addition, the bill includes a temporary worker program.  However, the program places unique restrictions on the construction industry that prevent the industry from fully utilizing the future temporary worker visa program.

AGC urges you to contact your elected officials regarding the temporary guest worker program in the Senate bill. As it stands, the bill’s restriction of the temporary guest worker program for the construction industry is arbitrary and needs to be eliminated. Please tell your Senators to oppose restrictions on the industry and tell your Representatives it is important to not make the same mistakes the Senate did with the temporary guest worker program. If piecemeal reform is the path forward, it must include a temporary worker program component.

The House has not formally considered any legislation, but several proposals that deal with reform in a piecemeal basis have been introduced. The House is expected to begin consideration of legislation after the Senate acts on S. 744 and may move forward with considering parts of reform in the committee of jurisdiction in the next week.

For more information, please contact Jim Young at (202) 547-0133 or youngj@agc.org. Return to Top

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LABOR
House Holds Hearing on Reforming Multiemployer Pension Plan System
Discusses AGC-Supported Recommendations to Safeguard Retirement Security for Multiemployer Plan Participants
 

On June 12, the House Education and the Workforce Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions held a hearing on "Strengthening the Multiemployer Pension System: What Reforms Should Policymakers Consider.” The hearing offered an opportunity to discuss the recommendations of the National Coordinating Committee for Multiemployer Plans’ Retirement Security Review Commission for reforming the pension system. The commission was nearly a two-year effort comprised of stakeholders from both business and labor groups, including AGC of America, and ultimately released a comprehensive report to safeguard retirement security for multiemployer plan participants that protects employers and taxpayers and spurs economic growth: “Solutions not Bailouts:  A Comprehensive Plan from Business and Labor to Safeguard Multiemployer Retirement Security, Protect Taxpayers and Spur Economic Growth.” 

The recommendations include technical changes to the Pension Protection Act (PPA) to strengthen the law and help plans operate with better and faster results within the PPA zone system.  The recommendations also include provisions to help address the deeply troubled plans projected for insolvency and include Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) action to ensure the plan participants receive the highest level of benefits, above the maximums.  New and innovative plan designs recommended by the commission would enable bargaining parties with a more flexible plan structure that would reduce risk for contributing employers, but still provide a reliable and lifetime retirement income for workers.

AGC will continue to work with other management and labor groups, the Partnership for Multiemployer Retirement Security: A Business and Labor Initiative, and Congress to enact the recommendations in the Commission’s report.

For more information, please contact Jim Young at (202) 547-0133 or youngj@agc.org. Return to Top

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SAFETY
New OSHA Interpretation Allows for Union Officials to Participate in Non-Union Site Inspections
AGC-Supported Coalition Sends Letter Opposing this Interpretation
 

Under a new interpretation of regulations by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) in a recent interpretation letter, union officials or community organizers will be allowed to participate in “walk around” OSHA inspections at non-union workplaces. The revision comes in response to a letter from Steve Sallman, Health and Safety Specialist for the United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union.

The AGC-supported Coalition for Workplace Safety sent a letter opposing this interpretation. The coalition notes that the overwhelming consensus is that this interpretation will undermine the focus on safety of these inspections and turn them into opportunities for unions or other parties with agendas contrary to the employer to enhance campaigns against the employer, gain entry to the employer’s premises to develop more information for the campaign, or even glean proprietary information.

For more information, please contact Kevin Cannon at (703) 837-5410 or cannonk@agc.org.
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FEDERAL CONTRACTING
AGC Opposes Dept. of Veterans Affairs Reverse Auction Use for Procuring Construction Services
 

On June 12, AGC sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) requesting the withdrawal of a decision to procure construction services using an online reverse auction. Specifically, the VA recently issued a solicitation for the “Installation of New 4 Ton Heat Pump at VAMC Murfreesboro” in Tennessee to be procured as a commercial item contract, rather than a construction services contract, using a reverse auction.

AGC strongly advocates against the use of reverse auction procurement for construction services. In its letter to the VA, AGC notes that the complexities of these processes simply do not compare to the purchase of an off-the-shelf commercial item. The reverse auction process ignores the unique nature of construction. General contractors, specialty contractors, subcontractors and suppliers offer and provide a mix of services, materials and systems. They do not “manufacture” buildings, highways, or other facilities.

To supplement its arguments, AGC shared its position paper on reverse auctions for construction services procurement and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ report, highlighting why it abandoned the use of reverse auctions for procuring construction services nearly ten years ago. AGC also recently testified against the use of reverse auction procurement for construction services before the House Small Business Committee.  AGC-backed legislation prohibiting the practice is currently under consideration for introduction this Congress.  

For more information, contact Jimmy Christianson at 703-837-5325 or christiansonj@agc.org. Return to Top

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AGC EVENTS
AGC to Host Webinar on Hispanic Construction Workforce
 

According to the Center for Construction Research and Training, 30 percent of all construction workers are Hispanic.  Therefore, understanding and exploring the impact culture plays when working with a Hispanic workforce is vital to the success of construction companies nationwide. 

On Thursday, July 18, AGC will host a webinar on The Hispanic Workforce: Best Practices for Construction Employers.  The webinar will take place from 2:00-3:30 p.m. EDT.  The cost to participate is just $99 for AGC members and $129 for non-members. 

During the webinar, Tricia Kagerer will provide employers with several techniques for success when managing a Hispanic construction workforce.  Ms. Kagerer is the former vice president of risk, safety and process improvement for CF Jordan Construction and is now a risk management executive with the American Contractors Insurance Group.

After participating in the webinar, registrants will be able to:

  • Expand their knowledge of some Hispanic cultural influences;
  • Identify cultural barriers that block communication; and
  • Learn about DOL’s latest enforcement initiative requiring the training of workers in a language and vocabulary they understand.

For more information or to register, please click here. Return to Top

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