Re: Authorization of Composite Plans Will Aid Pension System

December 5, 2017


The Honorable Virginia Foxx The Honorable Bobby Scott
Chair Ranking Member
Committee on Education and the Workforce Committee on Education and the Workforce
2176 Rayburn House Office Building 2176 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515 Washington, DC  20515

The Honorable Kevin Brady The Honorable Richard Neal
Chair Ranking Member
Committee on Ways and Means Committee on Ways and Means
1102 Longworth House Office Building 1102 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC  20515 Washington, DC  20515

Re: Authorization of Composite Plans Will Aid Pension System

Chairwoman Foxx, Chairman Brady, Ranking Member Scott, & Ranking Member Neal:

Last week Construction Employers of America (CEA) watched with interest the Education and the Workforce Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions hearing, "Financial Challenges Facing the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation: Implications for Pension Plans, Workers, and Retirees." On behalf of the 15,000 employers and 1.4 million employees we represent, we share the Committee’s concerns with the long-term health of our country’s multiemployer pension plans, and appreciate the thoughtful and timely hearing with Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) Director Reeder.

CEA urges the Committee and Congress to take swift action to modernize our country’s multiemployer pension system by immediately authorizing “composite plans”. Composite plans would offer voluntary options to companies, workers, and plans participating in the PBGC multiemployer insurance program. As you are aware, composite plans are designed to blend the best components of existing defined benefit and defined contribution pension plans, ensuring the future of lifetime employee retirement benefits while protecting contributing employers and the PBGC.

If composite plans are authorized, benefits in employee legacy plans would be protected and participants would remain entitled to the benefits in those plans. In massive numbers, single employers have moved from defined benefit plans to defined contribution plans, a system in which workers cannot save enough and too frequently outlive their benefits. CEA employers are committed to providing lifetime retirement benefits like those in composite plans. Such an approach is vital to ensuring contributing employers’ ability and willingness to remain in the multiemployer pension system, and their continued ability to ensure retirement security for the skilled American blue-collar workers they employ.  

Composite plan legislation would give multiemployer plans the ability to secure their future at no cost to the federal government or pension plan participants. As plans transition to composite plans, the PBGC is protected from the failure of more plans. Premiums continue to be paid to the PBGC for legacy plans. In addition to providing relief to the PBGC, composite plans are a vital component of a long-term solution to America’s looming pension crisis.

CEA agrees with the need to strengthen the country’s pension system and address deficiencies in the 2014 “Multiemployer Pension Reform Act.” However, requiring higher premiums to participate in the PBGC does not improve our pension system.  Unreasonably high premiums would have the unintended consequence of driving more employers out of the system, further eroding PBGC’s financial situation and putting millions of retirees’ and employees’ future at risk.  We therefore support efforts, such as the authorization of composite plans, to obviate the need for premium increases with a new plan design—especially the dramatic increases Director Reeder posited in his recent testimony.

Construction Employers of America is a joint initiative coordinating action on labor, workforce, and construction issues facing our industry. CEA works to strengthen the construction industry and provide opportunities for construction employers that provide the best value to project owners through a highly productive, highly skilled workforce that earns fair wages and benefits for themselves, their families, and their communities.

CEA’s seven employer associations include FCA International, International Council of Employers of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers, Mechanical Contractors Association of America, National Electrical Contractors Association, Sheet Metal & Air Conditioning Contractors National Association, Signatory Wall and Ceiling Contractors Alliance, and The Association of Union Constructors. We are available to meet with you or your staff to discuss the benefits of composite plans and the benefits of such plans. You may contact me at jack.jacobson@constructionemployersofamerica.com or at 202-637-6820 with any questions or to speak to our associations and their members.

Sincerely,

Jack Jacobson
Construction Employers of America

CC: Members of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce
Members of the House Committee on Ways and Means

Re: Construction Employers Urge NO Vote on King #23, Rooney #64 Amendments on Davis-Bacon Prevailing Wage

July 26, 2017


U.S. Representative
U.S. Capitol Building
Washington, DC  20515

Re:  Construction Employers Urge NO Vote on King #23, Rooney #64 Amendments on Davis-Bacon Prevailing Wage

Dear Representative:

On behalf of the Construction Employers of America and our seven member associations, we urge you to oppose Rep. Steve King’s (Amendment #23) and Rep. Francis Rooney’s (Amendment #64) amendments to H.R. 3219, the “Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2018”. Congressman King’s amendment and Congressman Rooney’s amendment would eviscerate local and regional prevailing wage laws that protect American workers, undermining our country’s long-standing and effective prevailing wage law, commonly known as “Davis-Bacon.”

As you may be aware, regional prevailing wages ensure that employees are paid a fair wage based on calculations from a survey of local market wages and benefits paid to construction workers without regard to their union or non-union status. It's fair, it’s transparent, and it's working for the American people, as it has for the past 85 years. The King Amendment and the Rooney Amendment would prohibit the implementation, administration, and enforcement of prevailing wage laws that have protected and supported American employers and employees for decades.

Put simply, Davis-Bacon protections raise the standard of living for all Americans. For over 80 years, Davis-Bacon prevailing wage requirements have ensured that companies pay fair wages and labor receives fair compensation for their work based on regional wages. Prevailing wage safeguards have proven sound construction procurement policy, ensuring project success by respecting and adhering to prevailing workforce standards and wages. Davis-Bacon discourages artificially low bids that undercut high workforce standards. Artificially low bids frequently lead to claims, disputes, and project delays. Established industry and project owner practices in both the private and public sectors recognize that high workforce standards delivery superior project outcomes. Prevailing wage standards also promote using local labor forces for public works projects.

Construction Employers of American once again urge you to vote against the King Amendment #23 and the Rooney Amendment #64 and defend local prevailing wage laws. The Construction Employers of America, our member associations, and our 1.4 million employees nationwide appreciate your leadership. CEA members include FCA International, the International Council of Employers of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers, the Mechanical Contractors Association of America, the National Electrical Contractors Association, the Sheet Metal & Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association, the Signatory Wall and Ceiling Contractors Alliance, and The Association of Union Constructors.

Thank you,

Jack Jacobson

​​​​​​​Re:  Construction Employers Urge NO Vote on Rooney #65 Amendment on Project Labor Agreements

July 26, 2017


U.S. Representative
U.S. Capitol Building
Washington, DC  20515

Re:  Construction Employers Urge NO Vote on Rooney #65 Amendment on Project Labor Agreements

Dear Representative:

On behalf of the Construction Employers of America and our seven member associations, we urge you to oppose Rep. Francis Rooney’s Amendment #65 to H.R. 3219, the “Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2018”. Congressman Rooney’s amendment would prohibit federal agencies from using funds to implement or enforce Executive Order 13502, which allows agencies the flexibility to use Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) on a project-by-project basis.

Project Labor Agreements have proven a cost-effective tool for federal agencies to use to ensure high quality construction projects are completed on time and on budget. PLAs ensure that the federal government selects contractors that can meet all of the terms of the Agreement before a major construction project begins. This greatly reduces the potential for cost overruns. PLAs minimize the risk of labor disputes and promote on-schedule and on-budget completion of projects, reducing overall costs and minimizing risks to taxpayers.

In short, PLAs are good for business, good for the government, and good for taxpayers. Unnecessary congressional action to interfere with that proprietary choice would promote regressive federal procurement policy.

Project Labor Agreements have been used by public and private owners and project managers to promote sound and effective labor policies and project productivity for many years. PLAs are most often used in the private sector where corporate budget and scheduling decisions are highly scrutinized. They serve to promote efficiency, control costs, and ensure the timely completion of construction projects. CEA members have long worked with our private sector customers under PLAs that promote stability and efficiency in the construction of projects and further owners’ economic interests.

Construction Employers of America supports the consideration and use of PLAs when deemed to be in the best economic interest of the project owner on behalf of the taxpayer. Banning the use of PLAs on large federal projects in past Presidential Administrations may have found favor in some circles, but did not ensure sound construction management. Economics, not ideology, should drive PLA decisions.  

Construction Employers of American once again urge you to vote against the Rooney Amendment #65 and support the federal government’s ability to use PLAs when advantageous. The Construction Employers of America, our member associations, and our 1.4 million employees nationwide appreciate your leadership. CEA members include FCA International, the International Council of Employers of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers, the Mechanical Contractors Association of America, the National Electrical Contractors Association, the Sheet Metal & Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association, the Signatory Wall and Ceiling Contractors Alliance, and The Association of Union Constructors.

Thank you,

Jack Jacobson

Re: Worker Misclassification Enforcement in Tax Reform Legislation

July 17, 2017


The Honorable Orrin Hatch                            The Honorable Ron Wyden
Chairman                                                               Ranking Member
Senate Committee on Finance                       Senate Committee on Finance
219 Dirksen Senate Office Building                219 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC  20510                                      Washington, DC  20510

Re: Worker Misclassification Enforcement in Tax Reform Legislation

Chairman Hatch and Ranking Member Wyden:

Employee misclassification in the construction industry has created an uneven playing field that rewards bad actors while robbing employees of benefits and local jurisdictions of tax revenue. Misclassification occurs when an employer improperly classifies an employee as an independent contractor to gain a competitive advantage at the expense of responsible, lawful companies and depriving employees of benefits they deserve.

Companies that deliberately misclassify employees benefit from a competitive advantage over companies that comply with employment laws and regulations. Misclassification allows companies to avoid paying appropriate Social Security and Medicare taxes, federal and state unemployment insurance taxes, and workers compensation premiums. With these ill-gotten savings, companies can scam the system and steal business from their competitors by undercutting project bids.

Misclassification deprives employees of benefits they deserve as well as federal, state, and local governments of money they are owed. It is estimated that between $3-4 billion in federal income and employment tax revenue is lost each year due to worker misclassification.  The federal government should reform existing tax law to identify bad actors so the government can recoup lost tax revenue and ensure all businesses compete under the same rules. This type of payroll fraud also includes paying workers "off the books", frequently involving undocumented workers.

Construction Employers of America, representing seven specialty construction trade associations and 1.5 million employees, urges the Committee to include worker misclassification enforcement as a revenue generator in tax reform legislation. This will bring violators to heel and ensure the proper payment of federal taxes.

CEA’s seven employer associations include FCA International, International Council of Employers of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers, Mechanical Contractors Association of America, National Electrical Contractors Association, Sheet Metal & Air Conditioning Contractors National Association, Signatory Wall and Ceiling Contractors Alliance, and The Association of Union Constructors. Our impact on the American economy is significant. We represent over 15,000 employers nationwide. If you or your staff would like to discuss this issue further with CEA and our members, you may contact me at jack.jacobson@constructionemployersofamerica.com or 202-637-6820.

Regards,

Jack Jacobson

RE: Oppose H.R. 1552, "Fair and Open Contracting Act"

March 27, 2017

The Honorable Ron DeSantis
U.S. House of Representatives
1524 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Re: Oppose H.R. 1552, “Fair and Open Contracting Act”

Dear Representative DeSantis:

On behalf of the Construction Employers of America (CEA), our seven employer associations, and our more than 1.4 million employees, we urge you to oppose H.R. 1552, the “Fair and Open Contracting Act”, sponsored by Congressman Dennis Ross (FL-15). CEA and our 15,000 affiliated employers have long recognized the benefits of project labor agreements (PLAs); PLAs have proven a cost-effective tool for federal agencies to use to ensure high quality construction projects are completed on time and on budget.

Project labor agreements can be an effective mechanism to ensure that the federal government selects contractors that can meet all of the terms of an agreement before a major construction project begins. PLAs minimize the risk of labor disputes and promote timely completion of projects that meet budgets, reducing overall costs and minimizing risks to taxpayers. In short, PLAs are good for business, good for the government, and good for taxpayers.

Congressman Ross’s legislation would impose a “one size fits all” approach on federal contracts even when PLAs would enforce cost controls and ensure timely completion of federal projects. CEA supports PLAs as an option when their use is in the economic interest of the project owner and the taxpayer.

We strongly urge you to oppose this ill-advised legislation. CEA’s seven employer associations include FCA International, International Council of Employers of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers, Mechanical Contractors Association of America, National Electrical Contractors Association, Sheet Metal & Air Conditioning Contractors National Association, Signatory Wall and Ceiling Contractors Alliance, and The Association of Union Constructors. Should you have any questions, you may contact me at jack.jacobson@constructionemployersofamerica.com or via telephone at 202-637-6820.

Regards,

Jack Jacobson

Congratulations & Construction Employer Policy Priorities

February 9, 2017

The Honorable Elaine Chao
U.S. Department of Transportation
1200 New Jersey Ave., SE
Washington, DC 20590

Re: Congratulatlons & Construction Employer Policy Priorities

Dear Secretary Chao:

On behalf of Construction Employers of America, our seven member associations, and our 1.5 million employees nationwide, we extend our heartfelt congratulations to you on your confirmation as Secretary of Transportation. We look forward to working with you and your team on a host of critical infrastructure and labor issues and stand with you as eager partners to build our economy through infrastructure investments and providing opportunities for hard working, blue collar construction workers.

CEA Is eager to engage with you to address Important Infrastructure and labor policy Issues that will help American smaII businesses prosper. From Investing In the country's transportation and energy infrastructure to ensuring we are training and preparing the next generation of craftsmen through innovative and proven apprenticeship programs, we stand ready to work with you to strengthen the American economy through sound investments. CEA and our member organizations would like to meet with you or your appropriate team member(s) at your earliest convenience to discuss the issues outlined below and identify opportunities to work together on behalf of our members' small business owners and employees.

We commend President Trump for the commitment he made during the campaign to invest in America's infrastructure, which is vital to strengthen the middle class. We are pleased to detail issues supported by the Construction Employers of America where you, as Secretary of Transportation, will play a critical role. We look forward to working with you and your colleagues in the Trump Administration to enact these common sense policies that will strengthen our industry and create skilled jobs across the country.

Invest in Infrastructure - Providing sufficient federal funds to invest in our nation's aging building, transportation, energy, and water infrastructure is vital to the country, the economy, and the construction industry. We are supportive of the President's commitment during the campaign to invest $1 trillion in infrastructure over the next ten years. While the President's plan, even at $1 trillion, won't meet all of the country's infrastructure needs, it is a much-needed step in the right direction and we look forward to working with you to ensure swift enactment of this important legislation.

Recent studies have demonstrated that every $1 billion invested in nonresidential construction would add $3.4 billion to gross domestic product (GDP), add $1.1 billion to personal earnings, and create or sustain 28,500 jobs. One-third (9,700) of these jobs would be on-site construction jobs. In addition, one-sixth (4,600) of the jobs would be indirect jobs from supplying construction materials and services. Most jobs would be in-state, depending on the project and the mix of in-state suppliers. Lastly, about half (14,300) of the jobs would be induced jobs created when the construction and supplier workers and owners spend their additional incomes. These jobs would be a mix of in-state and out-of-state jobs.

Promote Sound Infrastructure Policies - Federal procurement policy should continue to allow federal agencies to utilize project labor agreements (PLAs) in projects where they determine a PLA would provide the best value and highest quality for federal and federally-assisted projects.  PLAs are not mandatory, but allow agencies like the Department of Transportation to employ them when it makes sense for the Department and for the taxpayer. PLAs also ensure that only American citizens and documented workers are employed on federal projects with PLAs in place.

Prepare the Next Generation of Skilled Workers - The construction industry is facing potential labor shortages in coming years with the retirement of a significant portion of our workforce and insufficient new, trained construction workers in our employment pipelines. Skilled labor is vital to the success of our industry, and we have invested heavily in apprenticeship training.

The Department should impose federal construction industry Prompt Payment rules on grantees so that federally-assisted projects reap the benefits of improved payment flow. Greater use of public-private partnerships and tax credit financing for public works should ensure public contractor selection and contract administration protections, including prevailing wage standards; bonding protections for the agencies, subcontractors, and suppliers; public contract contractor and subcontractor selection procedures; payment protections; differing site conditions; and warranty protections.

Reduce Tax Gap by Closing Employee Misclassification Loophole - Miscassification and accompanying payroll fraud occurs when an employer improperly classifies an employee as an independent contractor to gain a competitive advantage at the expense of responsible, lawful companies. Misclassification deprives employees of benefits they deserve as well as federal, state, and local governments of money they are owed. It is estimated that between $3-4 billion in federal income and employment tax revenue is lost each year due to worker misclassification.  The federal government should reform existing tax law to identify bad actors so the government can recoup lost tax revenue and ensure all businesses compete under the same rules. This type of payroll fraud also includes paying workers "off the books", frequently involving undocumented workers.

Thank you for your time and for your consideration of these important national policies that will help spur employment across the country. We look forward to meeting with you or the other appropriate individual(s) at the Department. To confirm a meeting, please contact me at jack.jacobson@constructionemploversofamerica.com or at 202-637-6820.

The charter members of the Construction Employers of America include FCA International, the International Council of Employers of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers, the Mechanical Contractors Association of America, the National Electrical Contractors Association, the Sheet Metal & Air Conditioning Contractors' National Association, the Signatory Wall and Ceiling Contractors Alliance, and The Association of Union Constructors. CEA firms and workers are best qualified to handle high-skilled projects in a cost-effective manner and are the predominant force in the high end sector of the construction industry.

Sincerely,

Jack Jacobson

CEA Letter to Vice President-elect Mike Pence Re: CEA Asks Support of Executive Order 13502, Allowing Consideration of Project Agreements for Federal Construction

Dear Vice President-Elect Pence:

On behalf of the Construction Employers of America (CEA) and our six member associations, I would like to express our enthusiastic support for sustaining Executive Order 13502, which grants federal agencies the flexibility to consider Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) on a project-by-project basis. As you know, PLAs have proven a cost-effective tool for federal agencies to ensure high quality construction projects are completed on-time and on budget. CEA supports the consideration and use of PLAs when deemed to be in the best economic interest of the project owner on behalf of the taxpayer.

Project Labor Agreements ensure that the federal government selects contractors that can meet every term contained in a complex federal construction agreement before a major construction project begins. This greatly reduces the potential for cost overruns. PLAs minimize the risk of labor disputes and promote on-schedule and on-budget completion of projects, reducing overall costs and minimizing risks to taxpayers. In short, PLAs are good for business, good for the government, and good for taxpayers. Unnecessary executive branch action to interfere with the current proprietary choice would promote regressive federal procurement policy.

Project Labor Agreements have been used by public and private owners and project managers to promote sound and effective labor policies and project productivity for many decades. PLAs are most often used in the private sector where corporate budget and scheduling decisions are highly scrutinized. They serve to promote efficiency, control costs, and ensure the timely completion of construction projects. CEA members have long worked with our private sector customers under PLAs that promote stability and efficiency in the construction of projects and further owners’ economic interests.

CEA has consistently supported the consideration and use of PLAs when deemed to be in the best economic interest of the project owner on behalf of the taxpayer. Banning the use of PLAs on large federal projects in past Presidential Administrations may have found favor in some circles, but did not ensure sound construction management. Economics, not ideology, should drive PLA decisions.

After considering the CEA’s extensive experience performing PLA construction for states and federal owners, we hope you will defend the federal government’s future ability to use Project Labor Agreements. The Construction Employers of America, our member associations, and our 15,170 employers and 1.4 million employees nationwide appreciate your leadership. CEA members include the International Council of Employers of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers, the Mechanical Contractors Association of America, the National Electrical Contractors Association, the Sheet Metal & Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association, the Signatory Wall and Ceiling Contractors Alliance, and The Association of Union Constructors.

Sincerely,

Jack Jacobson

Click here to download a PDF of the letter to Vice President-elect Mike Pence RE E.O. 13502

CEA Letter to Trump Transition Team

Dear Vice President-elect Pence:

Congratulations on President-elect Trump and your election, and thank you for your commitment to addressing the country’s infrastructure needs in your first 100 days in office. This letter follows up on our October 6, 2016, letter to Governor Christie encouraging the Transition Team to focus on building our economy through infrastructure investments and providing opportunities for blue collar, quality construction jobs.

The Construction Employers of America and our six specialty construction associations look forward to working with the Trump Administration to address important infrastructure and labor policy issues that will help American small businesses prosper. From investing in the country’s transportation and energy infrastructure to ensuring we are training and preparing the next generation of craftsmen through innovative and proven apprenticeship programs, we stand ready to work with your
Administration and strengthen the American economy through smart investment.

We greatly appreciate the commitments President-elect Trump made during the campaign to focus on sustaining and increasing wages, which is vital to strengthen the middle class. Construction employment is key to achieving these goals. The average union construction wage is $33 per hour; when retirement, health, and welfare benefits are included, union employees are receiving $54.36 per hour in wages and benefits.

We are pleased to detail issues supported by the Construction Employers of America for your review. We urge President-elect Trump and his Administration to strongly consider the policies outlined below. We look forward to working with the Trump Administration to enact these common sense policies that will strengthen our industry and create fair-wage, skilled jobs.

Promote Sound Infrastructure Policies - Providing sufficient federal funds to invest in our nation’s aging building, transportation, energy, and water infrastructure is vital to the country, the economy, and the construction industry. Recent studies have demonstrated that every $1 billion invested in nonresidential construction would add $3.4 billion to gross domestic product (GDP), add $1.1 billion to personal earnings, and create or sustain 28,500 jobs. One-third (9,700) of these jobs would be onsite
construction jobs. In addition, one-sixth (4,600) of the jobs would be indirect jobs from supplying construction materials and services. Most jobs would be in-state, depending on the project and the mix of in-state suppliers. Lastly, about half (14,300) of the jobs would be induced jobs created when the construction and supplier workers and owners spend their additional incomes. These jobs would be a mix of in-state and out-of-state jobs. In addition, federal procurement policy should continue to
allow federal agencies to utilize project labor agreements (PLAs) in projects where they determine a PLA would provide the best value and highest quality for federal and federally assisted projects.

Modernize Retirement Plan Options - The multiemployer pension system needs to be modernized through federal authorization of composite plans, which would provide employees lifetime annuity benefits while ensuring predictability for employer contributions. Composite plans would revitalize the multiemployer pension system by creating a third pension plan that combines the best attributes of defined benefit plans that employees favor and defined contribution plans that employers prefer.
Once authorized by Congress and signed by the President, employers and employees would have the voluntary option of selecting composite plans that would provide employees lifetime annuity retirement benefits while providing long-term certainty for employers who contribute to the plans.

Prepare the Next Generation of Skilled Workers - The construction industry is facing potential labor shortages in coming years with the retirement of a significant portion of our workforce and insufficient new, trained construction workers in our employment pipelines. Skilled labor is vital to the success of our industry, and we have invested heavily in apprenticeship training programs for well over 65 years. One recent study noted that there were approximately 19 times more apprentices in
union construction apprenticeship programs than in nonunion programs. This is because CEA employers and their labor partners operate over 1,100 apprenticeship training centers nationally and make private investments of over $1.3 billion annually in workforce training and apprenticeship programs. An additional benefit of our joint programs is that diverse applicants go through a rigorous screening program that works to the benefit of American workers and national security. Continued and expanded federal support for existing and well-established apprenticeship and training programs will yield long-term benefits to the construction industry and the millions of customers we serve.

Protect Prevailing Wage Laws - For over 80 years, Davis-Bacon prevailing wage requirements have ensured that companies pay fair wages and workers receive fair compensation for work based on regional wage rates actually paid on local, private projects. Prevailing wage discourages artificially low bids that undercut local workforce standards and frequently lead to claims, disputes, and project delays. Established industry and project owner practices in both the private and public sectors recognize that high workforce standards deliver superior project outcomes. Moreover, prevailing wage standards promote the use of local blue collar labor forces for public works projects and support hundreds of thousands of jobs that provide middle class family wages.

Invest in Energy Efficient Buildings - Buildings are the single largest energy users in the country, consuming 40% of our energy demand. Building more efficient buildings and retrofitting existing building stock will save consumers money, reduce energy-related pollution, and improve our quality of life. Energy efficient buildings demand highly-qualified construction workers and engineers. The federal government must invest in building efficiency research and development, set and enforce
strong and attainable building codes, and promote innovation.

Enhance Manufacturing Efficiency - Combined heat and power (CHP) and waste heat to power (WHP) are proven and effective energy resources that can help address current and future energy needs and enhance manufacturing competitiveness while reducing environmental impacts. CHP and WHP projects create direct jobs in manufacturing, engineering, installation, operations, and maintenance, which increase the competitiveness of companies that install the systems and receive the energy savings benefits. The federal government must support policies that advance the deployment of these important clean-energy technologies.

Support Transparency in Government Contracting Through Bid Listing - The federal government should prohibit the practice of post-award bid shopping on low-bid federal construction projects in order to restore equitable safeguards for subcontractors who submit their bids to prime contractors in good faith. Procurement policy should require prime contractors on low-bid solicitations over $1 million to list all subcontractors with work over $100,000 and require prime contractor project winners to use the listed subcontractor at the price listed.

Reduce Tax Gap by Closing Employee Misclassification Loophole - Misclassification and accompanying payroll fraud occurs when an employer improperly classifies an employee as an independent contractor to gain a competitive advantage at the expense of responsible, lawful companies. Misclassification deprives employees of benefits they deserve as well as federal, state, and local governments of money they are owed. It is estimated that between $3-4 billion in federal income and employment tax revenue is lost each year due to worker misclassification. The federal government should reform existing tax law to identify bad actors so the government can recoup lost tax revenue and ensure all businesses compete under the same rules. This type of payroll fraud also includes paying workers “off the books”, frequently involving undocumented workers.

Thank you for your time and for your consideration of these important national policies that will help spur employment across the country. Should you be interested in any additional information or to speak with Construction Employers of America or one of our small business owners, please contact me at jack.jacobson@constructionemployersofamerica.com or at 202-637-6820.

The charter members of the Construction Employers of America include the International Council of Employers of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers, the Mechanical Contractors Association of America, the National Electrical Contractors Association, the Sheet Metal & Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association, the Signatory Wall and Ceiling Contractors Alliance, and The Association of Union Constructors. CEA firms and workers are best qualified to handle high-skilled projects in a cost-effective manner and are the predominant force in the high end sector of the construction industry.

Sincerely,

Jack Jacobson

CC: Reince Priebus
       Thomas Pyle
       Ado Machida

Click here to download a PDF of the CEA letter to the Trump Transition Team

CEA Thanks the Honorable Richard Hanna for Voting Against the King Amendment 1330 on Prevailing Wage

On behalf of the Construction Employers of America and our five member associations, we thank you for your vote against Congressman Steve King’s amendment (H.Amdt. 1330) to H.R. 5538, the “Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2017”.  Congressman King’s amendment would have prohibited federal funds to implement, administer, or enforce prevailing wage requirements, more commonly known as “Davis-Bacon”.

For over 80 years, Davis-Bacon prevailing wage requirements have ensured that companies pay fair wages and labor receives fair compensation for work based on regional wages. Prevailing wage safeguards have proven sound construction procurement policy, ensuring project success by respecting and adhering to prevailing workforce standards and wages. Davis-Bacon discourages artificially low bids that undercut high workforce standards. Artificially low bids frequently lead to claims, disputes, and project delays. Established industry and project owner practices in both the private and public sectors recognize that high workforce standards deliver superior project
outcomes. Prevailing wage standards also promote using local labor forces for public works projects.

By voting to defeat Congressman King’s amendment, you stood up for high-quality, specialty construction work. Construction Employers of America, the 22,000 construction companies affiliated with CEA and our member associations, and our combined 1.4 million employees nationwide appreciate your leadership on this critical issue.

Click here to download a PDF of the letter to the Honorable Richard Hanna

CEA Urges Members of Congress to Vote NO On King Amendment 1330 on Davis-Bacon Prevailing Wage

Dear Representative LoBiondo:

On behalf of the Construction Employers of America and our five member associations, we urge you to oppose Rep. Steve King’s (IA - 04) amendment (H.Amdt. 1330) to H.R. 5538, the “Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2017”. Congressman King’s amendment would prohibit federal funds to implement, administer, or enforce prevailing wage requirements, more commonly known as “Davis -
Bacon”.

For over 80 years, Davis - Bacon prevailing wage requirements have ensured that comp
anies pay fair wages and labor receives fair compensation for their work based on regional wages. Prevailing wage safeguards have proven sound construction procurement policy, ensuring project success by respecting and adhering to prevailing workforce stan
dards and wages. Davis - Bacon discourages artificially low bids that undercut high workforce standards. Artificially low bids frequently lead to claims, disputes, and project delays. Established industry and project owner practices in both the private and public sectors recognize that high workforce standards delivery superior project outcomes. Prevailing wage standards also promote using local labor forces for public works projects.

This is not a simple vote for or against union labor. Construction Employers of America, our five member associations, and the 22,000 construction companies affiliated with CEA and our member associations support Davis - Bacon and prevailing wage laws.

Construction Employers of American once again urge you to vote against the King Amendment and defend local prevailing wage laws. The Construction Employers of America, our member associations, and our 1.4 million employees nationwide appreciate your leadership. CEA members include the International Council of Employers of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers, the Mechanical Contractors Association of America, the National Electrical Contractors Association, the Sheet Metal & Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association, and The Association of Union Constructors.

Click here to download a PDF of the letter to Representative LoBiondo (R-NJ)


 

CEA Urges Democratic National Convention Platform Committee To Include Construction Industry Priorities in Platform

Dear Governor Malloy and Mayor Franklin: 

The Construction Employers of America urges the Democratic National Convention’s Platform
Committee to include policies that will ensure that the country continues to support and nurture a vibrant, high-quality domestic construction industry. CEA is a joint initiative of five employer associations coordinating action on labor, workforce, and construction issues facing our industries. CEA works to strengthen the construction industry and provide opportunities for top-quality construction workers to learn and maintain the skills they need to deliver highly
productive, quality workmanship that provides the best value to project owners while earning
high-value compensation and benefits for themselves, their families, and their communities.
Highly skilled union building trade shops strengthen the middle class and are good for the
country. Most CEA member companies are family-owned small businesses that follow the rules
and provide superior wages and benefits--including health insurance, pensions, and worker
safety investments--to their employees.

CEA and its member associations would look forward to working with the Platform Committee to ensure the Democratic National Convention acknowledges the important role the construction industry plays in moving America forward. Congress recently acknowledged the construction industry’s importance when it founded the bipartisan Congressional Building Trades Caucus to promote and protect the country’s 6.6 million construction-related employees. From investing in infrastructure to training the next generation of high-quality construction workers, there are several important policies that we urge the Committee to incorporate into the Democratic Party’s official Convention Platform.

Promote Sound Infrastructure Policies - Providing sufficient federal funds to invest in our
nation’s aging infrastructure is vital to the country, the economy, and the construction industry.

In addition, federal procurement policy should continue to allow federal agencies to utilize
project labor agreements (PLAs) in projects where they determine a PLA would provide the best value and highest quality for federal and federally assisted projects. CEA also supports effective enforcement of prevailing wage and other current laws.

Modernize Retirement Plan Options - The multiemployer pension system needs to be
modernized through federal authorization of composite plans, which would provide employees
lifetime annuity benefits while ensuring predictability for employer contributions. Composite plans would revitalize the multiemployer pension system by creating a third pension plan that combines the best attributes of defined benefit plans that employees favor and defined contribution plans that employers prefer. Once authorized by Congress and signed by the President, employers and employees would have the voluntary option of selecting composite plans that would provide employees lifetime annuity retirement benefits while providing long-term certainty for employers who contribute to the plans. 

Prepare the Next Generation of Skilled Workers - Skilled labor is vital to the success of our
industry, and we invest heavily in apprenticeship training programs. Our employers and their
labor partners operate over 1,100 apprenticeship training centers nationally and invest over $1.3
billion annually in workforce training and apprenticeship programs. Continued and expanded
federal support for apprenticeship and training programs will yield long-term benefits to the
construction industry and the millions of customers we serve.

Invest in Energy Efficient Buildings - Buildings are the single largest energy users in the
country, consuming 40% of our energy demand. Building more efficient buildings and retrofitting existing building stock will save consumers money, reduce energy-related pollution, and improve our quality of life. Energy efficient buildings demand highly-qualified construction
workers and engineers. The federal government must invest in building efficiency research and
development, set and enforce strong and attainable building codes, and promote innovation.

Enhance Manufacturing Efficiency - Combined heat and power (CHP) and waste heat to
power (WHP) are proven and effective energy resources that can help address current and
future energy needs and enhance manufacturing competitiveness while reducing
environmental impacts. CHP and WHP projects create direct jobs in manufacturing,
engineering, installation, operations, and maintenance, which increase the competitiveness
of companies that install the systems and receive the energy savings benefits. The federal
government must support policies that advance the deployment of these important clean-
energy technologies.

Support Responsible Employers Through Bid Listing - The federal government should
prohibit the practice of post-award bid shopping on low-bid federal construction projects in order to restore equitable safeguards for subcontractors who submit their bids to prime contractors in good faith. Procurement policy should require prime contractors on low-bid solicitations over $1 million to list all subcontractors with work over $100,000 and require prime contractor project winners to use the listed subcontractor at the price listed.

Close Employee Misclassification Loophole - Misclassification occurs when an employer
improperly classifies and employee as an independent contractor to gain a competitive
advantage at the expense of responsible, lawful companies and depriving employees of benefits they deserve. The federal government should reform existing tax law to identify bad actors so the government can recoup lost tax revenue and ensure all businesses compete under the same rules.

Thank you for your consideration of these policies that would recognize the important role the
construction industry plays in keeping America competitive and providing high-quality
construction services to American companies and consumers. CEA’s five employer associations
include the International Council of Employers of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers,
Mechanical Contractors Association of America, National Electrical Contractors Association,
Sheet Metal & Air Conditioning Contractors National Association, and The Association of Union
Contractors. Our impact on the American economy is significant. We represent over 15,000
employers and 1.4 million employees nationwide. Information about the CEA can be found
online at www.constructionemployersofamerica.com.

Click here to download a PDF of the letter to DNC Convention Platform Committee
 

CEA Urges Republican National Convention Platform Committee To Include Construction Industry Priorities in Platform

Senator Barrasso, Governor Fallin, and Congresswoman Foxx:

The Construction Employers of America urges the Republican National Convention’s Platform Committee to include policies that will ensure that the country continues to support and nurture a vibrant, high-quality domestic construction industry. CEA is a joint initiative of five employer associations coordinating action on labor, workforce, and construction issues facing our industries. CEA works to strengthen the construction industry and provide opportunities for top-quality construction workers to learn and maintain the skills they need to deliver highly productive, quality workmanship that provides the best value to project owners while earning high-value compensation and benefits for themselves, their families, and their communities.

Highly skilled union building trade shops strengthen the middle class and are good for the country. Most CEA member companies are family-owned small businesses that follow the rules and provide superior wages and benefits--including health insurance, pensions, and worker safety investments--to their employees.

CEA and its member associations would look forward to working with the Platform Committee to ensure the Republican National Convention acknowledges the important role the construction industry plays in moving America forward. Congress recently acknowledged the construction industry’s importance when it founded the bipartisan Congressional Building Trades Caucus to promote and protect the country’s 6.6 million construction-related employees. From investing in infrastructure to training the next generation of high-quality construction workers, there are several important policies that we urge the Committee to incorporate into the Republican Party’s official Convention Platform.

Promote Sound Infrastructure Policies - Providing sufficient federal funds to invest in our
nation’s aging infrastructure is vital to the country, the economy, and the construction industry.
www.constructionemployersofamerica.com In addition, federal procurement policy should continue to allow federal agencies to utilize project labor agreements (PLAs) in projects where they determine a PLA would provide the best value and highest quality for federal and federally assisted projects. CEA also supports effective enforcement of prevailing wage and other current laws. 

Modernize Retirement Plan Options - The multiemployer pension system needs to be
modernized through federal authorization of composite plans, which would provide employees
lifetime annuity benefits while ensuring predictability for employer contributions. Composite plans would revitalize the multiemployer pension system by creating a third pension plan that combines the best attributes of defined benefit plans that employees favor and defined contribution plans that employers prefer. Once authorized by Congress and signed by the President, employers and employees would have the voluntary option of selecting composite plans that would provide employees lifetime annuity retirement benefits while providing long-term certainty for employers who contribute to the plans. 

Prepare the Next Generation of Skilled Workers - Skilled labor is vital to the success of our
industry, and we invest heavily in apprenticeship training programs. Our employers and their
labor partners operate over 1,100 apprenticeship training centers nationally and invest over $1.3
billion annually in workforce training and apprenticeship programs. Continued and expanded
federal support for apprenticeship and training programs will yield long-term benefits to the
construction industry and the millions of customers we serve.

Invest in Energy Efficient Buildings - Buildings are the single largest energy users in the
country, consuming 40% of our energy demand. Building more efficient buildings and retrofitting existing building stock will save consumers money, reduce energy-related pollution, and improve our quality of life. Energy efficient buildings demand highly-qualified construction
workers and engineers. The federal government must invest in building efficiency research and
development, set and enforce strong and attainable building codes, and promote innovation.

Enhance Manufacturing Efficiency - Combined heat and power (CHP) and waste heat to
power (WHP) are proven and effective energy resources that can help address current and
future energy needs and enhance manufacturing competitiveness while reducing
environmental impacts. CHP and WHP projects create direct jobs in manufacturing,
engineering, installation, operations, and maintenance, which increase the competitiveness
of companies that install the systems and receive the energy savings benefits. The federal
government must support policies that advance the deployment of these important clean-
energy technologies.

Support Transparency in Government Contracting Through Bid Listing - The federal
government should prohibit the practice of post-award bid shopping on low-bid federal
construction projects in order to restore equitable safeguards for subcontractors who submit
their bids to prime contractors in good faith. Procurement policy should require prime
contractors on low-bid solicitations over $1 million to list all subcontractors with work over
$100,000 and require prime contractor project winners to use the listed subcontractor at the
price listed.

Reduce Tax Gap by Closing Employee Misclassification Loophole - Misclassification
occurs when an employer improperly classifies and employee as an independent contractor to
gain a competitive advantage at the expense of responsible, lawful companies and depriving
employees of benefits they deserve. The federal government should reform existing tax law to
identify bad actors so the government can recoup lost tax revenue and ensure all businesses
compete under the same rules.

Thank you for your consideration of these policies that would recognize the important role the
construction industry plays in keeping America competitive and providing high-quality
construction services to American companies and consumers. CEA’s five employer associations
include the International Council of Employers of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers,
Mechanical Contractors Association of America, National Electrical Contractors Association,
Sheet Metal & Air Conditioning Contractors National Association, and The Association of Union
Contractors. Our impact on the American economy is significant. We represent over 15,000
employers and 1.4 million employees nationwide. Information about the CEA can be found
online at www.constructionemployersofamerica.com.

Click here to download a PDF of the letter to the RNC Convention Platform Committee
 

Thanks for Project Labor Agreement Vote on Perry Amendment to H.R. 4974

On behalf of the Construction Employers of America and our five member associations, thank you for your vote in opposition to Rep. Scott Perry’s (PA-04) amendment (H.Amdt. 1076) to H.R. 4974, the “Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act”. Congressman Perry’s amendment would have prohibited federal funds to implement or enforce Executive Order 13502, which grants federal agencies the flexibility to use Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) on a project-by-project basis. As you know, PLAs have proven a cost-effective tool for federal agencies to use to ensure high quality construction projects are completed on-time
and on budget.

Project Labor Agreements ensure that the federal government selects contractors that can meet all of the terms of the Agreement before a major construction project begins. This greatly reduces the potential for cost overruns. PLAs minimize the risk of labor disputes and promote on-schedule and on-budget completion of projects, reducing overall costs and minimizing risks to taxpayers. In short, PLAs are good for business, good for the government, and good for taxpayers. Unnecessary congressional action to interfere with that proprietary choice would promote regressive federal procurement policy.

Project Labor Agreements have been used by public and private owners and project managers to promote sound and effective labor policies and project productivity for many years. PLAs are most often used in the private sector where corporate budget and scheduling decisions are highly scrutinized. They serve to promote efficiency, control costs, and ensure the timely completion of construction projects. CEA members have long worked with our private sector customers under PLAs that promote stability and efficiency in the construction of projects and further owners’ economic interests.

Construction Employers of America supports the consideration and use of PLAs when deemed to be in the best economic interest of the project owner on behalf of the taxpayer. Banning the use of PLAs on large federal projects in past Presidential Administrations may have found favor in some circles, but did not ensure sound construction management. Economics, not ideology, should drive PLA decisions.

Thank you once again for your vote defending the federal government’s ability to use Project Labor Agreements. The Construction Employers of America, our member associations, and our 15,170 employers and 1.4 million employees nationwide appreciate your leadership. CEA members include the International Council of Employers of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers, the Mechanical Contractors Association of America, the National Electrical Contractors Association, the Sheet Metal & Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association, and The Association of Union Constructors (TAUC).

Click here to download a PDF of the letter to Congressman Evan Jenkins (R-WV)

Construction Employers of America Weighs In On Multiemployer Pension System to Senate Finance Committee

Dear Senator Hatch:

On behalf of the Construction Employers of America ("CEA") and our five member associations, we submit for the March 1, 2016, hearing record this letter and attached documents.

CEA strongly urges the Finance Committee to authorize "composite plans" in any legislation it
considers to reform the current collectively bargained multiemployer pension system. Composite plans would provide employers and labor the option of selecting a multiemployer retirement plan that provides lifetime income for retired workers similar to defined benefit plans while providing cost predictability and reduced risk for employers similar to defined contribution plans.

Last year the House Education and the Workforce Committee held a hearing to examine reforms that would modernize the multiemployer pension system during which composite plans were thoroughly reviewed. Witnesses and stakeholders agreed that composite plans could provide annuitized income for employees while ensuring greater certainty for employers that defined benefit plans lack.

Attached for the Committee's consideration are two documents that provide additional information on composite plans. Josh Shapiro's July 2015 white paper, "Composite Plans: A New Approach to Modernizing Multiemployer Retirement Benefits", provides a comprehensive review of composite plans and how they operate in practice. Eli Greenblum and Aldwin Frias's January 2016 report, "'Composite Plan' Stress Testing", reviews three scenarios that examine the long-term resiliency of composite plans. 

Composite plans were jointly developed by labor and management, have been thoroughly
researched, and undergone extensive stress testing. We urge Congress to authorize composite
plans as soon as possible. 

Click here to download a PDF of the letter to Senator Hatch