The 2016 MCAA Legislative Conference
By Mike Sutter
Our Washington, D.C., fly-in, the 2016 MCAA Legislative Conference, is nearly here. We will be on Capitol Hill in force on May 18 and 19, telling our stories to our elected officials. They truly want to hear how they can help us grow our businesses and hire more people, especially in an election year like the one we are in currently. We will also be sharing how the government can get out of our business by ending needless regulations. Nobody knows our business like we do, so let’s share our experience with them. Come and join us this year, and you will soon see how rewarding it is. We also have added an optional day for this fly-in on May 17, with private VIP tours set up for a full day of sightseeing that isn’t available to the public. You can read all about it and reserve your place on our website, www.masoncontractors.org.
We will of course be discussing the Check-Off program. We were informed at the NCMA mid-year meeting in Orlando, Fla., that we are as close as we have ever been and expect the bill to pass the full House this spring/summer. This will be a huge milestone that we have worked very hard for. We will not let up until it does, so we will be reminding all our elected officials how important this is to the future of the masonry industry.
Misclassification of employees as independent contractors is a problem for all of us, and it is only getting worse. When contractors misclassify their employees, it hurts not only the employees, but us contractors as well. These contractors have about a 30% advantage when bidding projects against contractors operating legally. They don’t pay into federal and state unemployment insurance, or pay for worker’s compensation insurance, health insurance or retirement for their employees. In addition, they don’t pay their portion of Social Security, Medicare, or withhold federal, state or local income taxes. In Arizona, NFIB introduced a bill that would have allowed any business to declare its employees as independent contractors by simply signing a one-page document between the employee and contractor. This would have given contractors a false sense of security, because the DOL would not recognize this as a legal defense of misclassification simply because the state of Arizona passed this into law. Our Arizona MCAA chapter was successful in carving construction out of this misleading bill. The bill eventually did become law, without construction included, and it will be a mess for a lot of other businesses in the future. We find support on both sides of the aisle for this in D.C., so it is an easy subject to discuss with our elected officials.
On another topic, OSHA has issued its ruling on crystalline silica exposure in the workplace. We worked long and hard on this issue and testified on two occasions regarding how this ruling could affect our businesses, jobs and bottom line. While we weren’t successful in stopping the rule from being issued, we were successful in making some key changes to the rule. This is another example of the MCAA working for all of us, as we as individual companies could never accomplish this on our own.
Workforce development is our top priority for the next two years, and we are doing everything we can to promote masonry in our schools. The Keelen Group, our lobbyists in D.C., have a few ideas how we can bring attention to our needs. There are some programs available to us that we are pursuing, and we will ask for our representatives’ help when we are in D.C. There is a lot of discussion on jobs, vocational training and graduating career-ready students from our high schools during this election year, so we need to bring up this topic during our visits.
In closing, let’s keep sharing our passion about our industry and take the young people entering our industry under our wing, just like we were helped when we started. This could make a difference in the future of their career choice and eventually make a difference in their lives as a whole.
About the Author
Mike Sutter is the CEO of Sutter Masonry, Inc. He has served as an officer on the Executive Board and the Region G Vice President for the Mason Contractors Association of America.