TAUC Legislative & Regulatory Update, May 2018
No rest for the weary: with enactment of the final FY 2018 omnibus appropriations, Congress began working on the FY 2019 legislation. While many in Congress are hopeful that they can move spending bills given the budget agreement enacted earlier this year, the political reality of the hotly contested upcoming mid-term elections will most likely dim the prospects of these efforts.
Here is an exclusive update from TAUC on policy and regulatory issues of vital interest to contractors and the union construction and maintenance industry.
Multiemployer Pension Reform
The recently established Joint Select Committee on the Solvency of Multiemployer Pension Plans began work on recommendations and legislation to address multiemployer pension plans and the PBGC. The committee, which was included in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 approved by Congress earlier this year, is designed to address failing plans like the Central States Teamster plan and the United Mine Workers pension fund. The committee is charged with providing legislative recommendations by Nov. 30th of this year.
The Joint Committee held two sessions this month. The first was an organizational meeting and the second was an overview of the multiemployer pension system and the magnitude of the potential crisis. Over the coming months, the Committee is expected to hear from a range of stakeholders, unions, employer groups, and academics as it looks for policy options and potential solutions to address the pending insolvency of several multiemployer plans, the impact of their insolvencies on the PBGC and the overall multiemployer system, and ways to strengthen multiemployer pensions plans.
While we will continue to monitor the work of the joint committee, we will also continue to advocate for legislation introduced by Reps. Phil Roe (R-TN) and Donald Norcross (D-NJ) – both members of the joint committee – to modernize and strengthen multiemployer pension plans by providing local joint labor-management trustees a new voluntary tool to ensure the long-term viability of their funds by authorizing more choices in retirement plan models. H.R. 4997, the “Giving Retirement Options to Workers Plan” (GROW Act) would authorize the use of hybrid composite plans and would have no cost to the federal government or pension plan participants. We urge all members to contact their members of Congress to ask them to cosponsor H.R. 4997.
Congress is continuing to work on developing a comprehensive approach towards fighting the opioid crisis. As part of this effort, the SENATE Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee approved the Opioid Response Act of 2018. The bipartisan legislation combines a range of proposals and policy approaches to allow the federal government to partner with state and local governments, health care providers, law enforcement officials, employers, and others to find solutions for communities to combat the largest public health crisis facing the nation. As the legislation advances in Congress, TAUC shared with members of the committee the most recent issue of The Construction User, which focuses on steps contractors are taking to confront the opioid crisis.
TAUC and our labor and union contractor association allies fought off yet another effort to block federal prevailing wage requirements, this time on federal aviation projects. Rep. Steve King (R-IA) offered an amendment to H.R. 4, the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018, to prevent the use of funds made available under “implement, administer, or enforce” the Davis-Bacon Act and the Davis-Bacon Act prevailing wage requirements for projects funded under this legislation. The amendment was defeated by a vote of 173 to 243, with 57 Republicans joining all Democrats in opposition. TAUC sent letter to each member of Congress opposing these amendments, and worked closely with the Congressional Building Trades Caucus, the Construction Employers of America, and the North American Building Trades Unions to fight this amendment.