The MCAA: Getting Plugged into Washington
For months now, you have heard a great deal from the Mason Contractors Association of America (MCAA) regarding OSHA's push to expand their silica standard and our effort to defeat this new standard. The MCAA, through our Washington staff, has led a coalition of some very powerful Washington associations that includes the Associated General Contractors, the Home Builders and the Associated Builders and Contractors.
This new silica fight is only one of the issues that the MCAA has become immersed in over the past several years. As I sat back to review the past year and our many accomplishments in the Washington arena, I think back several years ago to the Board meetings where the MCAA had to debate the hiring of a full-time Association staff position to represent our interests in our nation's capital. Adding a new staff position required a significant financial commitment that our members would have to make. We debated whether it would be a worthwhile investment. And most importantly, would we find enough work for this person to actually do? We really didn't know the depth of the issues that would face us in Washington, nor the amount of effort it would take to affect a successful outcome. We did know that we must have someone representing our views so that we would have a voice and a presence on matters that could change our working rules, the safety of our employees, materials and equipment that is needed in our industry.
Today, as I review monthly reports from our Washington office, it has now become abundantly clear that a full-time staff in Washington is warranted to protect our interests. In fact, I believe that every member of the Association's Board will agree that we can't imagine how MCAA and its members ever got along without someone fighting for us full-time in Washington, D.C.
Since we have brought Marian Marshall, MCAA's Director of Government Affairs, onto our staff, the MCAA has fought and won to overturn an OSHA standard that would require every mason contractor to remove all materials from scaffolding at the end of every shift and then restock the scaffolding at the beginning of the next shift. We reaffirmed
earlier successes by the Association to allow for overhand bricklaying. We are now on the verge of defeating a crippling silica standard. We have also joined a coalition to fight ergonomics, should it raise its ugly head again. We have introduced legislation in the U.S. Senate, and we are close to introducing legislation in the U.S. House to give tax credits to mason contractors who invest in training apprentices. We have recently entered into a fight to save masonry pavers from elimination due to expanded American Disabilities Act (ADA) standards. And we are forging closer ties to OSHA with a pending formal alliance.
Our fight is not limited to our lobbying efforts on Capitol Hill. We have become equally involved in supporting candidates for federal office that share our views and interests.
Over the past year, our Association's political action committee, MACPAC, has contributed thousands of dollars for the upcoming 2004 campaigns. And through the support of our members, we will contribute thousands more as the November election draws near.
In addition to giving direct contributions to candidates, we have sponsored fundraising events for key races to help insure that we would have allies in Congress that will help preserve our industry's traditions. In addition, we have developed a database so you can reach out to your elected officials to let them know how you feel about the issues that directly affect your business and its future.
This cannot be overstated: Our success in Washington and our fight to preserve our industry's future is not won by the MCAA's effort alone ? it relies on the collective action of everyone in this industry. Seventeen thousand mason contractors are receiving this magazine. If every contractor reading this article joins the MCAA and regularly writes their congressmen and senators, the power for change will be unstoppable. If we all sit back and think, "the other guy will do it so I don't have to," then change will come... but not for the better.
I urge you all to become involved and build on our success.
About the Author
William McConnell is the owner of Architectural Paving & Stone, Inc. He has served as President of the Mason Contractors Association of America and on the Board of Trustees for the International Masonry Institute. McConnell was a recipient of the 2005 C. DeWitt Brown Leadman Award.