AGC is working to address the employment and labor challenges employers face in the construction industry. AGC provides members with compliance assistance resources, best practices information, timely news and a strong voice in the federal agencies, owners groups, organized labor and Capitol Hill. Throughout this web page you can find the latest rulemakings and legislative proposals in Congress and the federal agencies impacting the industry. For additional information and guidance on a vast array of labor and HR topics relevant to construction employers visit the Labor & HR Topical Resources section on the AGC website.
The congressional logjam has made it difficult to move controversial labor and employment laws in the 113th Congress. However, there are issues of significant impact on the construction industry that continue to generate a lot of attention and changes in labor and employment law could come from Congress in addition to the federal agencies.
The current immigration system is broken. It provides little opportunity for legal immigration, has created a permanent underclass of illegal workers, fails to utilize the latest technology to verify work status and has created a patchwork of ordinances that creates uncertainty for employers who are trying to comply with competing federal, state or local ordinances. Legislation has passed the Senate which address many AGC priorities for reform, however, it failed to adequately address the construction industry's future workforce needs with restrictions to the temporary guestworker program. The House is taking a more piecemeal approach to addressing reform legislation and the outlook for enactment remains uncertain. Read more...
Multiemployer pension plans are common in the unionized sector of the construction industry and provide employers the opportunity to provide their employees with a defined benefit plan that gives them “portability” to earn continuous benefits as they go from job to job within the same industry. More than half of all multiemployer plans are in the construction industry plans. The changing industry demographics, 2008 stock market losses and subsequent industry downturn and the sunsetting of the Pension Protection Act have had an unprecedented impact on the funding status of these plans. AGC is working with a coalition of stakeholders on urging Congress to support multiemployer pension plan reform. Read more...
In 2010, AGC opposed the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) because it did not create a framework that would reduce healthcare costs. Since 2010 the law has survived court challenges and congressional attempts to repeal it. AGC is now advocating that the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act limits costs and complexity, while providing acceptable options for employers. In addition, to offer assistance to construction employers, AGC has been offering compliance resources along with identifying specific provisions of the law to modify through the regulatory process along with amending the law through congressional action. Read more...
A government-mandated project labor agreement (PLA) is one in which the government requires contractors to negotiate a pre-hire collective bargaining agreement with one or more labor organizations that establishes the terms and conditions of employment for a specific construction project. PLAs typically restrict the majority of employment to those workers whom unions are willing to refer to the project. This leads to a negative impact on non-union companies, small companies, and other disadvantaged businesses as they are frequently excluded from contracting opportunities by such agreements. AGC is continually working to educate members of Congress and the Federal Agencies on the implications of encouraging or requiring the use of PLAs on Federal construction projects. Read more...
As a result of the divided Congress, there is more activity within the federal agencies on regulations impacting employment and labor issues.
Crystalline Silica Rulemaking
On February 11, 2014, the deadline for public comments for the OSHA's rule on respirable crystalline silica closed. The proposed rule would lower the current permissible exposure limit (PEL) from 100 micrograms per cubic meter to 50 micrograms per cubic meter. It would also require the establishment of regulated areas or access control plans where exposures will or may be expected to exceed the PEL, such as conducting medical surveillance and the training of workers about silica related hazards. AGC and other industry stakeholders formed a coalition of two dozen construction trade associations to formulate a comprehensive, unified response to industry concerns with the proposed rule. The next step in the rule making process is an informal public hearing scheduled to begin March 18, 2014. Read more...
Cranes and Derricks in Construction: Operator Certification
OSHA issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to address industry concerns related to operator certification. The agency issued the final rule in August 2010 which required crane operators to be certified by November 10, 2014. However, OSHA has determined that two of the four organizations that offer certifications have programs that do not meet the "type AND capacity" requirements. These organizations currently offer certification by type but not by capacity. Operators in possession of this certification would be deemed noncompliant according to the agency. To address the potential disruption and uncertainty this interpretation has caused OSHA is proposing to extend the compliance and enforcement date by three years to November 2017 as well as the current employer obligations to ensure safe operation of cranes through training and qualification. The comment period on the proposed extension closes on March 12, 2014.
Reporting of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses
On November 7, 2013, OSHA issued a proposed rule to amend its current recordkeeping regulations to require the electronic submission of injury and illness information. The proposed rule would require construction firms with more than 250 employees to electronically submit detailed records on a quarterly basis to OSHA, which would then be made available to the public online. OSHA is also proposing that firms with 20 - 249 employees be required to submit only their summary of work-related injuries and illnesses once a year. AGC knows that OSHA already has access to this data during an inspection. However, we are concerned about potential problems with the public dissemination of this information. Our concerns include identifying who is responsible for any website inaccuracies; the possible failure to sanitize personal data of employees from the records; how data will be characterized by competitors; and the possible misinterpretation of data by people lacking the construction expertise to evaluate the specifics of a reported incident. The comment period ends March 8, 2014.
Protected Veterans and Individuals with Disabilities
The OFCCP finalized new rules on affirmative action for protected veterans and individuals with disabilities on August 23, 2013. While disappointed that OFCCP did increase its requirements, AGC was pleased to find that the agency also abandoned much if not most of what it had originally proposed. Very quickly, it became clear that AGC’s written comments on the proposed rules, its meetings with federal agencies and Congressional staff, and its detailed study of the federal data on past discrimination against veterans and individuals with disabilities -- which revealed that such discrimination is extremely rare -- all had their intended effect. As it completed the rulemaking process, OFCCP did change course, and ultimately cut more than half of the requirements that it had proposed. Read more...
Compensation Data Collection
On August 10, 2011, OFCCP issued an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) pertaining to non-discrimination in compensation and the creation and mandated use of a new compensation data collection tool for federal and federally-assisted contractors. While the ANPRM proposal is not presently intended to apply to construction contractors, it does inquire about whether expansion to include the construction industry is warranted. OFCCP's proposal would create a compensation data collection tool and require federal contractors to input compensation data for employees that would later be analyzed by the agency to determine if a more in-depth audit of a contractor's pay practices is necessary.
A proposed rule by OMS would broaden reporting requirements of labor relations consultants (including attorneys and associations) who conduct activities to persuade employees concerning their rights to organize or bargain collectively and of the employers who receive assistance from such consultants. The proposed rule would have a damaging impact on the construction industry due to various unique features of labor relations and labor law in the industry and due to the rule's inclusion of association-provided advice and education as "persuader" activity. The OLMS intends to issue its final rule in March 2014.
"Quickie Election" Rule
On February 5, 2014 the NLRB re-issued a proposed rule that would expedite the election process in union representation cases, likely to unions' advantage. The rule appears to be identical to a 2011 proposed rule. An abbreviated version of the 2011 proposal was finalized and took effect in 2012, but was quickly invalidated by a court on procedural grounds. The public comment deadline is April 7, 2014.