SUMMER RECESS SCHEDULE | JULY 27-SEPT. 9 (HOUSE), AUG. 3-SEPT. 9 (SENATE)
Congress is in recess, which creates a valuable opportunity to meet with your legislators, develop a genuine rapport and communicate the critical issues facing the construction industry while they are home in their districts. Your elected officials depend on you to know how proposed legislation will affect the construction industry, their districts and especially your company and employees. Remember, it’s about trust. You do not have to be a member of the same political party as your legislators or agree on every issue, but if they learn to both trust and respect your views, you will become an important resource on construction and business-related issues.
It is a good idea to seize any opportunity to meet with one of your legislators at town hall meetings or forums in the district, but you don’t have to wait for them to come to you.
Arrange a meeting
: Proactively organizing a personal meeting or company event is great way to become acquainted. Just remember:
- Be considerate of your legislator’s schedule.
- Be prepared by ensuring you understand the political issues, but don’t forget your personal experience is a powerful asset.
- Follow up the meeting with a written thank you note summarizing your key points.
Plan a site visit: Did you know you can invite a legislator to see the industry at work and meet your employees? It is a great way to show them how their actions impact your business and employees, as well as build trusting relationships with the legislators that represent your interests.
Visit the ABC Action Center to find your representative. Remember, prior to scheduling a site visit you should consult with legal counsel to ensure compliance with all applicable laws. ABC has lawmaker jobsite visits resources here. If you need assistance with obtaining your member office's contact information, please contact anyone on ABC National's Government Affairs team.
No matter how you choose to interact with your legislators, don’t forget to encourage them to support and cosponsor or oppose the following pieces of legislation that are critical to ABC:
SUPPORT: The Fair and Open Competition Act (H.R. 1858 / S. 907), introduced by Rep. Ted Budd (R-N.C.) and Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.), protects federal and federally assisted construction contracts from government-mandated project labor agreements and will allow merit shop contractors and their skilled employees to have a fair chance at competing to rebuild America.
OPPOSE: Protecting the Right to Organize Act (H.R. 2474 / S. 1306), introduced by Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), would make radical changes to well-established law, diminish employees’ rights to privacy and association, destroy businesses and threaten entire industries including construction.
SUPPORT: The Skills Investment Act of 2019
/ S. 275
), introduced in the House by Reps. Derek Kilmer (D-Wash.) and G.T. Thompson (R-Pa.) and in the Senate by Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Ben
Sasse (R-Neb.), would allow parents and students to save money in lifelong learning accounts that can be used in all forms of apprenticeships.
SUPPORT: The Workforce for an Expanding Economy Act (H.R. 1740), introduced by Rep. Lloyd Smucker (R-Pa.), would create a new visa program, capped at 85,000 positions annually, while providing important protections for employers and employees and ensuring that jobs remain available for hardworking Americans.
For more on ABC's key issues and stances, download the 2019 Legislative Week Cheat Sheet and visit the priority issue briefs on abc.org.
See National Connections for more in-depth talking points on ABC priorities.
FAIR AND OPEN COMPETITION (FOCA) TALKING POINTS
The Fair and Open Competition Act (H.R. 1858 / S. 907) is ABC’s priority legislation in the 116th Congress. ABC believes that in order to create the conditions for innovation and free enterprise, we must promote open competition, efficiency, fairness and equality in government contracting. Mandating project labor agreements limits the pool of qualified bidders able to deliver the best possible product and price.
Government-mandated PLAs unfairly discourage merit shop contractors from competing to win taxpayer-funded construction contracts. This needlessly increases construction costs between 12% and 18%.
In February 2009, President Obama passed Executive Order 13502, which strongly encourages federal agencies, on a case-by-case basis, to require PLAs on federal construction projects exceeding $25 million in total value and allows state and local governments to mandate PLAs on federally assisted projects.
Twenty-five states have enacted measures increasing competition and guaranteeing fair treatment of all contractors and their employees on taxpayer-funded construction projects, ensuring an estimated $111.3 billion worth of state and local projects are free from PLA mandates and preferences on an annual basis.
Tell your elected officials in Washington to cosponsor this critical legislation today by responding to the following action alert on ABC’s Action Center: Help ABC Fight Federal Government-mandated Project Labor Agreements
. View cosponsors of H.R. 1858 here
and cosponsors of S. 907 here
You can also help ABC’s efforts and Tell President Trump ABC Members Are Ready to Build America
by rescinding President Obama’s pro-PLA Executive Order 13502.
If your chapter is located in a state where pro-PLA bills have been enacted, where policy prohibiting PLAs has been rescinded, or there is no policy prohibiting or encouraging use of PLAs, we encourage you to fill out this letter
and have state legislators sign and send it to the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs.
PROTECTING THE RIGHT TO ORGANIZE (THE PRO ACT) TALKING POINTS
The Protecting the Right to Organize Act (H.R. 2474 / S. 1306) is a fundamental threat to American businesses and the construction industry. In an attempt to increase union membership at any cost, this bill would make radical changes to well-established law like “right-to-work” protections, which guarantee workers can seek employment without fearing they will be required to join (or pay) a union if they are hired. In addition, it would diminish employees’ rights to privacy and association, destroy businesses and threaten entire industries that have fueled innovation, entrepreneurship and job creation. ABC strongly opposes this bill.
Currently, there are 27 states that have adopted right-to-work laws. The PRO Act would remove these protections and effectively take away workers’ right not to join a labor union.
The PRO Act would also strip away workers’ free choice in union elections. ABC opposes any effort to overturn or diminish NLRB procedures that protect the rights of employees to fair union elections through secret ballot voting. This is not the first time unions have tried to take away workers’ rights to a secret ballot. More than a decade ago, unions repeatedly pressed Congress to pass the Employee Free Choice Act, which have threated workers’ right to a secret ballot, but it was ultimately rejected.
In addition, this bill would force employers to divulge their workers’ private information. Making employers submit workers’ home addresses, shift schedules, telephone numbers and personal email addresses is a shameless breach of privacy that could lead to unwanted harassment.
Reach out to you representatives right now and tell them to oppose the PRO Act
. View PRO Act House cosponsors here
and Senate cosponsors here
WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT TALKING POINTS
There are limitless opportunities to build the American workforce through government-defined and industry workforce development programs. Innovative and unique platforms can provide the way for all Americans to develop skills to achieve their dreams.
However, with an insufficient pipeline of new workers, the construction industry faces a critical shortage of skilled craft professionals. ABC estimates approximately 440,000 construction jobs
are ready to be filled right now, and that number will increase with continued economic growth.
ABC and its 69 chapters are doing their part to educate craft and management professionals using innovative and flexible learning models like just-in-time task training, competency-based progression, work-based learning and government-registered apprenticeships to build a safe, skilled and productive workforce.
Policymakers must commit to supporting an all-of-the-above strategy for workforce development. Apprenticeships, both industry recognized and government-defined, should have equal access to incentives such as tax breaks, tuition assistance, scale wages and increased access to career and technical education programs.
ABC members invested an estimated $1.6 billion on workforce development
to educate and upskill nearly one million course attendees in 2018, and ABC chapters have set up more than 800 education programs at more than 1,400 locations across the United States.
However, 92% of ABC contractors reported a skilled labor shortage in 2018, which impacts construction firms of all sizes. According to the Construction Confidence Index report published in late July, nearly 70% of ABC members plan to increase staffing levels in the second half of 2019
. Prioritizing apprenticeship and workforce development programs is a key priority for ABC members as they look to close the skills gap. Learn more at workforce.abc.org
ABC also signed on to President Trump’s “Pledge to America’s Workers,”
last year committing to educating and developing at least 500,000 construction workers over the next five years.
IMMIGRATION TALKING POINTS
ABC opposes illegal immigration and has advocated in favor of changes in immigration law to address growing problems of the legal immigration system in the United States and allow for much-needed access to legal and qualified temporary foreign workers.
While ABC continues to promote the construction industry as a viable career choice for hardworking Americans through the expansion of apprenticeship programs and career and technical education, as improvements in our economy results in higher demand for construction services, our members continue to face systemic labor shortages of qualified workers and craft professionals.
While any successful immigration reform measures must work to ensure the enforcement of our laws, security of our borders and prosperity of our economy, modernizing our immigration system must also allow for an adequate amount of legal immigration and access to foreign-born workers to effectively address the workforce demands of the construction industry. The strong U.S. economy has resulted in higher demand for construction services, which has created a nearly nine-month construction backlog, according to ABC’s Construction Backlog Indicator
. Therefore, we also need take steps to hire temporary foreign workers to fill critical positions and meet current construction demands. ABC believes that a new, market-driven visa program for foreign workers is needed to allow the construction industry to continue to grow and prosper.
Immigrants currently authorized to work in the United States have also helped to fill gaps in our workforce, and it is estimated that more than 100,000 individuals currently work in the construction industry through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and Temporary Protected Status designation. Moving forward, immigration reform must address the needs of our businesses and the construction workforce in the United States and include protections for DACA and TPS recipients, who have been members of the construction industry workforce for years.
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ABC wants to hear from you. Remember to contact ABC Government Affairs when you meet with your member of Congress or host a site visit so we can better track ABC advocacy efforts. For additional information or any questions, please contact ABC Government Affairs at (202) 595-1505.