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TAUC, CEA Bring Contractors to DC for Legislative Conference

May 3 2017

TAUC participated in the Construction Employers of America (CEA) National Legislative Conference, held May 2-4 in Washington, DC. The conference is an opportunity for contractors to network with Washington policy experts and engage in face-to-face meetings with members of Congress and/or their staffs.

CEA is a joint initiative coordinating action on labor, workforce, and construction issues facing our industries. TAUC is proud to sponsor CEA along with three other leading construction specialty trade associations: FCA International, the Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA) and the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association (SMACNA).

This year’s conference focused on a host of issues impacting the signatory contractor community, including:

Multiemployer Composite Plans – In Capitol Hill meetings, CEA members pushed for support of a new plan design for multiemployer pension plans – specifically, a composite model that is distinct from both the traditional defined benefit model and the defined contribution model. The CEA’s proposal would allow plans to voluntarily adopt a more flexible plan structure going forward that would reduce risks for contributing employers but still provide a safe and comfortable lifetime retirement for workers.

National Infrastructure Investment – CEA supports efforts to enact increased investment for the nation’s infrastructure to levels that will ensure public buildings, water systems, airports, transit and surface transportation network meets the demands of the 21st Century. CEA also supports President Trump’s call for a $1 trillion investment package, and argues that it should include direct federal investments along with opportunities to leverage additional public and private funds.

Prevailing Wage — In order to protect local workers and local economies, CEA asked members of Congress to support locally prevailing wages on federal government and government assisted projects and oppose any efforts to repeal/weaken Davis-Bacon. CEA explained that prevailing wages simply reflect wage and benefit standards of local contractors, their workers and the economies of local communities completing federal and federally assisted projects. Davis-Bacon is not the union scale wage-benefit package; it is a locally prevailing wage in an area.

Project Labor Agreements — CEA asked Congress to allow the federal agencies the option of considering and utilizing public sector PLA’s where deemed in the best economic interest of the project owner (the government) on behalf of the taxpayer. Economics, not ideology, should drive PLA decisions. PLAs are used frequently in the private sector because of the efficiencies they create. Federal government PLAs are open to union/nonunion contractors alike.

Misclassification/Payroll Fraud – In one-on-one meetings with Capitol Hill staffers, CEA stressed the need to reform the “common industry practice” safe harbor in Section 530 of the IRS Code which currently ties the hands of the IRS. Reform of the law would generate $7 – $10 Billion in revenue over 10 years by increasing tax compliance. CEA reminded Congress that misclassification is epidemic in the construction industry and is blatantly used as a cost-cutting tool to the detriment of competing lawful contractors. Employers who misclassify avoid paying income tax withholding; Social Security and Medicare taxes; federal and state unemployment insurance taxes; workers’ compensation premiums; and overtime. Increasing taxpayer compliance would generate substantial revenue to the federal government to help reduce the tax gap.

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