Here is a list of issues which are important to Merit Shop Contractors. These issues are on a watch list during each legislative session.
Union-Only PLAs vs. Open Competition
ABC is strongly opposed to union-only project labor agreements (PLAs) on any construction projects. These agreements not only exclude open shop contractors from bidding on projects paid for by their own tax dollars, but drive up the cost of construction by reducing competition for the work. A union-only PLA is a contract which requires the project to be awarded only to contractors and subcontractors who agree to: recognize unions as the representatives of their employees on that job; use the union hiring hall to obtain workers; pay union wages and benefits; and obey the union’s restrictive work rules, job classifications and arbitration procedures.
ABC supports legislation that would prevent such discrimination based on labor affiliation and help guarantee full and open competition for construction projects.
Davis Bacon/Prevailing Wage
The Davis-Bacon Act is a depression-era wage subsidy law enacted in 1931. Its intent, demonstrated in the Congressional Record, was to preserve northern construction jobs for white union men and prevent them from being taken by less expensive southern, black labor. To do this, the Act mandates that the area’s “prevailing wage” be paid on public projects, which has translated into an outdated, burdensome national wage law that significantly inflates the cost of public construction projects — by 5% to 38% above what the project would have cost in the private sector.
Repealing the Davis-Bacon act would reduce unnecessary federal and state spending and guarantee more construction for the dollar for important public projects such as schools, roads, bridges, low income housing, hospitals and prisons. It would also remove barriers that preclude emerging businesses and entry-level workers (helpers) from working on public projects paid for their with their own tax dollars.
“Salting” abuse is the placing of trained union professional organizers and agents in an open shop facility to harass or disrupt company operations, apply economic pressure, increase operating and legal costs, and ultimately put the company out of business. The objectives of the union agents are accomplished through filing frivolous and unfair labor practice complaints or discrimination charges against the employer with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Salting campaigns have been used successfully to cause economic harm for construction companies and are quickly expanding into other industries across the country.
Salting is not merely an organizing tool. It has become an instrument of economic destruction aimed at non-union companies that has nothing to do with organizing. Unions send their agents into open shop workplaces under the guise of seeking employment. Hiding behind the shield of the National Labor Relations Act, these salts often try to destroy their employers or deliberately increase costs through various actions, including sabotage and frivolous discrimination complaints with various agencies.
The Supreme Court in Communications Workers of America v. Beck (1988) clarified that non union employees who work under a union security agreement, and therefore, are required to pay union dues, are not required to contribute through those dues to union-supported political causes with which they disagree. The Supreme Court concluded that the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) does not permit a union to collect and expend dues beyond those necessary to finance collective bargaining, contract administration and grievance adjustment if a nonunion member objects to the use for political, legislative, social or charitable purposes.
ABC is committed to protecting workers rights, including providing information on rights established by the Beck decision. Workers have the right to know how their union dues are spent and have a right to stop money from being taken out of their pockets that is not used for legitimate collective bargaining purposes. If unions want to spend dues money on activities unrelated to union functions they should ask workers for their permission and tell them how they spend members’ money.
At issue is whether a small entity (employer or union) should be entitled to automatic reimbursement of attorney fees and other costs when it prevails against a complaint brought by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
The Fair Act levels the playing field for small employers as they face two aggressive well-armed agencies — the NLRB and OSHA. The bill amends the National Labor Relations Act and the Occupational Safety and Health Act to provide that a small employer or union prevailing against either agency will automatically be allowed to recoup the attorney’s fees and expenses it spent defending against the unworthy action.
ABC is committed to safe and healthful workplaces, with the objective of “zero accident worksites” and protecting workers through preventive measures, including training and education programs. ABC has a strategic partnership with OSHA to provide more education, training, and technical assistance, and ABC contractors receive a majority of safety awards by the Business Roundtable.
Apprenticeship and Training
The construction industry provides good, well paying jobs to over six million American workers every year, however, the industry is experiencing a critical shortage of skilled workers. ABC believes that the key to attracting new workers and retaining current workers is to provide high quality, flexible training that leads to a lifetime career opportunity in a lucrative field like construction.
The opportunity for open-shop apprenticeship programs to grow is being hampered by the federal apprenticeship law known as the Fitzgerald Act of 1937, which was enacted at a time when labor unions dominated the construction market. As a result, federal and state laws and regulations tend to favor the union style of apprenticeship programs and do not accurately reflect open shop apprenticeship programs, which today represents over 80 percent of the construction industry marketplace.
The time is ripe for Congress to review the applicability of the Depression-era Fitzgerald Act and specifically, inequities within the registration process for the construction industry.
ABC is committed to providing quality health insurance to employees. Expanding access to health insurance through Association Health plans and tax incentives is a must.
ABC is supportive of reducing and simplifying the tax burden. Small business reforms including: clarifying cash basis accounting, repeal of the look-back method and indexing of key thresholds; accelerating the 100% insurance deduction for self-employed and increases in expensing should be done.
ABC part of Coalition to Educate Public on Financial Implications of Pending Legislation in Congress
The Delaware Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) has joined a coalition of business interests in the state to raise public awareness regarding the likely negative financial effects from the passage of the “Employee Free Choice Act” (EFCA). This legislation as currently written would, among other things, eliminate an employee’s right to a federally supervised private ballot when deciding whether or not to join a union for the purposes of collective bargaining.
The formation of the coalition was announced by Edward J. Capodanno, president of ABC Delaware. Other organizations participating in the public awareness effort include the Delaware Health Care Association, the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce, the Delaware Chapter of the National Federation of Independent Businesses, the Delaware Restaurant Association, the Delaware Food Industry Council, the Delaware Hotel Association, the Central Delaware Chamber of Commerce and the Homebuilders Association of Delaware.
“Passage of this bill will have wide-ranging and severe implications for the residents of Delaware and the business community,” said ABC President Capodanno. “Folks in Delaware should not be misled by the title of the legislation—free choice will be anything but free should Congress enact this legislation.”
Capodanno said that instead of the secret ballot, workers would be subjected to a biased and inferior process called a ‘card check.’ He said this would allow a union to organize if a majority of the workers sign a card, which would be done in public under the scrutiny of union organizers and co-workers who have the potential to coerce and intimidate employees.
“Under the current secret-ballot arrangement, unions win over half of government-supervised elections today,” noted Capodanno. “With the new card-check scenario, unions will be able to dramatically increase their ability to organize employees. This has major financial implications for the business owner and their customers. And, any company with two or more employees can be legally targeted for organization.”
According to ABC Delaware’s president, bank tellers, auto repair workers, service providers such as child day care workers or health care aides at nursing homes, servers at independent fast food restaurants, and even the smallest entrepreneurial start-ups are now vulnerable to having their employees organized. Capodanno noted that once employees are represented by a bargaining group, owners of the company experience the added expense of time consumed by negotiations, arbitrations, and penalties that add to the cost of doing business. As a result, they are forced to pass on the increased labor costs in the goods they produce or the services they supply.
“It is the consumer of the goods or services that ultimately bears the added financial burden caused by this legislation,” stressed Capodanno.
“Another option for the business owner is to trim the size of its workforce,” said Capodanno. “As a result, companies quickly close departments, offices, and plants. This sets off a ripple effect, impacting suppliers, consumers, tax payers, school systems—and a host of other systems that serve as the financial and social foundation for the state of Delaware.”
“We have made our feelings known to Delaware’s congressional delegation regarding EFCA, and now we are taking our message directly to Delaware residents and the businesses they patronize,” said Capodanno.
He added that similar legislation was initially adopted in all ten provinces of Canada, but was later repealed by six Canadian provincial governments after being linked to a decrease in job creation and business development and an increase in unemployment rates.