A bi-monthly news publication for AWI Manufacturing & Supplier Members December 6, 2007
Association News

Renew Your Annual AWI Membership Dues; Keep Benefits Coming Your Way

December 31, 2007, the deadline for renewal of your 2008 AWI membership dues, is fast approaching.

To guarantee your spot in the 2008 Membership Resource Directory you must have your payment in on time.  You may renew online at www.awinet.org in the “Members Only” section or make your checks payable to the Architectural Woodwork Institute and mail them to PO Box 752056, Charlotte, NC 28275-2056.

Remember to review your company contact information on the AWI Web site and make any changes as necessary.  This will be the information that is displayed in the 2008 directory. This annual membership resource lists all dues-paid members in good standing and reaches over 1,300 Manufacturing and Supplier Members as well as nearly 2,000 architects and design professionals. The directory is a year-long resource of architectural woodwork specialists.

Renew your membership today.  Stay connected to the AWI community of over 3,000 members. Thank you for your continued support.
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Show Off Your Project to 25,000 Design Professionals

The AWI “Award of Excellence” Program is your doorway for corporate exposure to potential new customers.  All AWI Manufacturing Members are eligible to submit projects. Become one of the many honorees whose architectural woodwork projects are featured in quarterly issues of Design Solutions, AWI’s official journal!

You can have your outstanding project showcased to architects and design professionals who may be searching for your kind of expertise and creativity. The final call for submissions for the winter AOE Program is December 15, 2007.  Click here for details and submission forms.

Like other auspicious honorees featured in the fall 2007 edition of Design Solutions, AWI Manufacturing Member, E. B. Endres, Inc., enjoyed the media exposure that inclusion in the journal brings.  

Pictured here is one of the winning AWI Manufacturing Member projects in the quarterly AWI “Award of Excellence” competition – one of the laboratories at the new 96,000 sq. ft. research and testing facility of the School of Forest Resources at Pennsylvania State University.  E.B. Endres of Huntington, PA fabricated the millwork for the LEED® Silver certified project, using Cherry, Ash and Oak, woods commonly found throughout the state.

Photo Credit: Warren Jagger Photography, Inc.
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About QCP

Quality Certification Program Renewal Period Ends December 31; Don’t Miss It

Success breeds success.  Don’t miss the deadline for QCP renewal on December 31, 2007.  Make sure you are among the 481 participants whose QCP renewal fee is on time. 

Invoices were mailed on November 9 to all QCP participants and must be received or postmarked by Monday, December 31, 2007 to avoid the $300 late fee. 

Remember, online renewal at www.awiqcp.org is easy and helps QCC cut administrative costs.  Note that the QCC participant user name and password is different from the new one you use at the AWI Web site.  Alternatively, send your check to:

AWI/QCC
46179 Westlake Drive, Suite 120
Potomac Falls, VA  20165-5874  

Renewing participants are reminded that the new mailing address is Potomac Falls, not the PO Box in Charlotte as in previous years.  Should you have any questions, please call the Quality Certification Corporation toll-free at 1.800.449.8811.
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Professional Development

AWI Winter Professional Development Seminars Offer Practical Programs for Building Profits

Save the date!  February 27 – March 1, 2008 is the time to migrate south to Orlando, FL for the AWI Winter Professional Development Seminars. 

Check out the six programs on the agenda for project managers, estimators, and middle management: Fundamentals of Project Management; Fundamentals of Estimating; Advanced Project Management; Advanced Estimating; AutoCAD Workshop (NEW OFFERING); and LEED®  +  Hardwoods: Nuts & Bolts.

Click here for more details.  Watch your mailbox for registration details and course information.
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Industry News

China Yields on Unfair Subsidies, Levels Playing Field for Fair Trade

On November 29, China ended a number of trade-distorting subsidies that were the subject of a World Trade Organization (WTO) case filed by the United States in February of this year. 

“This shows clearly that the WTO system works,” according to the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM). The case claimed that China was maintaining a number of subsidy programs across a wide range of industrial goods in violation of its WTO obligations.

The NAM has persistently called for an end to two of China’s most trade-distorting practices – undervaluing its currency and subsidizing its industries.  These WTO-illegal subsidies favored Chinese goods over imports in the domestic market and resulted in export prices that were lower than market value, NAM said. 

Visit the Web site of the U.S. Trade Representative for information about the subsidies China has agreed to eliminate.

Frank Vargo, NAM’s Vice President for International Economic Affairs, recently discussed the importance of China’s decision on subsidies on Bloomberg TV.  You can see his interview at the NAM Web site.

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September Construction Slides 9%, McGraw-Hill Reports

New construction starts fell 9% in September to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $573.5 billion, according to McGraw-Hill Construction, a division of The McGraw-Hill Companies. 

Reduced contracting was reported for nonresidential building, while residential building managed to edge up slightly.  Through the first nine months of 2007, total construction on an unadjusted basis came in at $475.6 billion, down 11% from the same period a year ago.  If residential building is excluded, new construction starts during the January-September period of 2007 would be up 4% relative to last year.

For detailed insight into construction activity, click here.
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Green Scene

New Credentialing Organization Launched for Green Building Professionals

A newly incorporated entity, the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI), has been established with the support of the U.S. Green Building Council to administer credentialing programs related to green building practice and standards.  
 
GBCI will ensure that the LEED® Accredited Professional (LEED AP) program will continue to be developed in accordance with best practices for credentialing programs.  To underscore this commitment, GBCI will undergo the ANSI accreditation process for personnel certification agencies complying with ISO Standard 17024. 

Responsibility for the ongoing administration of the LEED Professional Accreditation program will be transferred by USGBC to GBCI in January 2008. The recently launched GBCI Web site, www.gbci.org, provides credential-related information for LEED Accredited Professionals and interested candidates. 

In other news, The U.S. Green Building Council has agreed to boost the exchange of information on green building and maintenance practices with the Construction Specifications Institute. Under the agreement, the two will work together on the development of documentation practices and procedures that improve sustainability in construction. 
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PEFC's Vision for Tomorrow: A World in Which People Manage Forests Sustainably

The PEFC Council (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification schemes), the world's largest forestry certification organization, launched its new strategy on October 5 to deliver PEFC's mission. 

PEFC aims to give society confidence that people manage forests sustainably. In addition the strategy concentrates on growing the market for certified products; providing economic benefits for the sustainable forest management (SFM) community; and promoting rural development.

"The new strategy marks a significant switch in the strategic direction from production to market access orientation," said Ben Gunneberg, Secretary General of the PEFC Council. The strategy document states that PEFC will proactively develop its rules and standards to be more relevant to actual issues directly applicable to the needs of the supply chain, by making them easier to understand and operate, without diluting their rigor. Visit the organization at www.pefc.org.
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In the Chapters

Chapter Events Ahead

What’s happening in local architectural woodwork communities?  Check out the informative AWI chapter programs sponsored in your area. Tap into your local AWI chapter for vital information that can help your business grow and put you in touch with fellow AWI architectural woodworkers and suppliers.  See what the AWI Empire State and Central Pennsylvania Chapters are planning.

AWI Empire State Chapter
When: January 24, 2008
What: Hardwood +LEED® = Sustainability Success
Presenter: Margaret Fisher, Saunders Wood Specialties
Where: Syracuse, NY
More Information: Click here for program information and registration details.
Registration: $65, Chapter Members; $85 Non-Members.  Deadline for registration is January 4, 2008. 
More Information: Call 607.656.7563

AWI Central Pennsylvania Chapter
When:
January 31, 2008 (2:00 – 4:00 pm)
What: Installation Clinic – Presentation & Open Forum
Presenter: Brian Ebersole, Bersole Brothers Construction
Where: Wildwood Conference Center, Harrisburg, PA
More Information: Click here for program information, registration, directions, and other details.
Registration: $30, Chapter/AWI Members; $50, Non-Chapter/Non-AWI Members.  Deadline for registration is December 19, 2007.
Questions:
Garry Astles, Chapter President, gastles@northwayind.com
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Safety Matters

Safety Tip Challenge 

Seeking safety tips from AWI Manufacturing Members...each quarter, the AWI Safety Committee will review and select the best submittals to date.

Each submittal remains in the competition for the entire year, so all entries have an equal opportunity for review each quarter. (Quarterly winners are excluded from future consideration). The AWI Safety Committee reviews and judges all entries and selects the winners; all judging decisions are final.

Each winner receives a beautiful Starrett Model S909Z combination square valued at almost $300, compliments of the AWI Safety Committee and our partner in risk management, CNA Insurance.

To submit your tip, click here to enter the Safety Tip Challenge.
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OSHA Rules that Employers Must Pay for Workers’ Safety Equipment

On November 14, the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced a final rule on employer-paid personal protective equipment (PPE). Under the rule, employers will provide all PPE, with a few exceptions, at no cost to employees.

According to OSHA, it anticipates that this rule will have substantial safety benefits that will result in more than 21,000 fewer occupational injuries per year.

Exceptions to the final rule that employers are not required to pay for include:

  • Ordinary safety-toed footwear, 
  • Ordinary prescription safety eyewear, 
  • Logging boots, and 
  • Ordinary clothing and weather-related gear.

To view the final rule published in the Federal Register on November 15, click here.  To view OSHA’s related fact sheet, visit osha.gov.
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Regulatory Issues

Immigration Crackdown on Hold with Social Security Administration and DHS

Both the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) are stepping back from enforcement of a strict new rule about the hiring of illegal immigrants, at least temporarily, while actions to address immigration issues continue on both federal and state levels.

First, the SSA will not send “no match” letters to thousands of employers in 2007 and is not likely to do so until the spring of 2008, according to the American Subcontractors Association (ASA). The SSA was ready to go with the letters in November, until a federal judge in California issued an injunction on October 10 barring the DHS from implementing a strict rule, cracking down on employers who hire illegal immigrants.

Second, the DHS has asked the court to put a “hold on a pending lawsuit challenging the ‘no-match’ rule until March 2008,” ENR.com recently reported.  The DHS filed papers on November 23 with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, advising it is temporarily scrapping its efforts to enforce the new rule and develop a new proposal by next spring. 

Meanwhile, Congress may revisit the prickly immigrant issue again. Rep. Heath Shuler, D-N.C., introduced legislation (H.R. 4088) in the U.S. House of Representatives on November 6 that would:

  • Require employers to verify the legal status of their employees,
  • Strengthen employer sanctions,
  • Increase border security, and
  • Expand the E-Verify program administered by the DHS that employers use to confirm employees’ Social Security numbers.

According to ASA, “the “Secure America through Verification and Enforcement (SAVE) Act of 2007” does not address the legal status of the millions of undocumented immigrants residing within the United States.”
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Transition to New Employment Eligibility Verification Form by December 26, 2007

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced in a Federal Register notice on November 26, 2007 that employers must transition to the revised Employment Eligibility Verification Form (I-9) no later than December 26, 2007. All employers are required to complete a Form I-9 for each employee hired in the United States.

Both the revised form and the “Handbook for Employers, Instructions for Completing the Form I-9” are available online at www.uscis.gov. To order forms, call USCIS toll-free at 1.800.870.3676. For forms and information on immigration laws, regulations, and procedures, call the National Customer Service Center at 1.800.375.5283.
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Census Survey – Coming to Your Mailbox This Month

All 4 million American businesses that receive 2007 Economic Census forms are vital to the outcome of the 2007 Economic Census.  Chances are, yours is one of the businesses in the architectural woodwork industry that receive a 2007 Economic Census form from the U.S. Census Bureau this month.  Forms go to all but the very smallest businesses in this tally conducted once every five years.

Businesses, communities, and governments use Economic Census data for planning and market development. Statistics are published for more than a thousand industries as well as for states, counties, cities and metropolitan areas at business.census.gov. Check out the wealth of information at the site.

Watch for the 2007 Economic Census forms and supply the information needed by February 12, 2008
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IRS Announces 2008 Standard Mileage Rates

The Internal Revenue Service has issued the 2008 optional standard mileage rates used to calculate the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business, charitable, medical or moving purposes.

Beginning January 1, 2008, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car (including vans, pickups or panel trucks) will be:

  • 50.5 cents per mile for business miles driven; 
  • 19 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes; and 
  • 14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations.

Revenue Procedure 2007-70 contains additional information on these standard mileage rates.

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Legislative News

Illegal Logging Legislation Would Limit Certain Wood and Wood Product Imports

The House Committee on Natural Resources recently passed a bill to dissuade illegal logging in foreign countries.  The Legal Timber Protection Act of 2007, HR 1497, would block the ability of foreign governments to send illegally harvested wood products into the United States, according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).

H.R. 1497, introduced by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OH), would place all imported wood and wood products under the jurisdiction of the Lacey Act, which governs the parameters under which products may be excluded from importation into the U.S. as a result of their illegal origin. 

NAHB originally opposed the measure because it would have allowed the Department of Justice to pursue all entities in the chain of custody of a wood product for prosecution and forfeiture of the wood products in question, even though many in the chain of custody could have no possible way of knowing that the source of the wood product had once been illegally harvested timber. 

At NAHB’s urging, the bill’s language was amended to limit the ability of the government to pursue consumers who have no knowledge of the wood product’s origin.  The measure is expected to go to the House floor later this session.  Meanwhile a Senate version of the bill, S 1930, was added to the Farm Bill Reauthorization currently being considered on the Senate floor. 

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Next Issue of E-briefs

The next issue of AWI e-briefs will be published December 20, 2007.
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Founded in 1953, AWI is a nonprofit organization representing over 3,500 manufacturers, suppliers, and design professionals in the architectural woodwork industry.

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