In the first few weeks of 2018, the federal government released a series of memoranda officially announcing a host of significant changes in how it will enforce violations of environmental laws – ranging from restricting payouts to “settle” lawsuits outside of court, to deferring to states on enforcement matters, to limiting the practice of regulating through guidance. In addition, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized its 2018 penalty rule that increased the maximum civil penalties per violation of an environmental statute or agency regulation.
Union representation in the construction industry (covering all occupations) rose very slightly in 2017, from 14.6 percent to 14.7 percent, according to an annual report recently issued by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (“BLS”). Union membership in the industry similarly increased over the year, from 13.9 percent to 14 percent. The total number of workers in the industry rose from 7,488,000 to 7,844,000.
AGC’s 2018 Construction HR & Training Professionals Conference and Federal Construction HR Workshop will be held October 10-12, 2018, in Fort Worth, TX. The conference will offer unique opportunities for HR, training, and workforce development professionals in the construction industry. For training professionals, the conference will offer sessions related to the most cutting-edge techniques currently in the industry and envisioned for the future in training, education and workforce development. For HR professionals, the conference will help attendees stay up to date and compliant with employment laws and best practices. Some sessions will be of interest to both HR and training professionals alike.
Construction-industry collective bargaining negotiations completed during 2017 resulted in an average first-year increase in wages and benefits of $1.34 per hour or 2.7 percent, according to the annual year-end Settlements Report issued by the AGC-supported Construction Labor Research Council. This sustains an upward trend that began in 2011. For newly negotiated multi-year contracts, the average second-year increase negotiated was $1.53 or 2.9 percent.
On January 31, 2018, AGC attended an intimate stakeholder meeting and roundtable with Ondray T. Harris, the recently appointed Director of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) at the U.S Department of Labor. AGC took the opportunity to discuss the unique challenges construction contractors face interacting with the OFCCP and complying with its requirements. AGC strongly advocated the need for clarity, communication, and understanding of the industry it regulates from the OFCCP. Director Harris spent much of his time introducing himself and his vision for the OFCCP before settling in for a very interactive and receptive conversation. It remains to be seen the true direction of the OFCCP in the coming months to years, but Director Harris and his staff appear to be interested in working more in partnership with industry to ensure the continued investment in diversity initiatives, the development of American workers, and ultimately the country’s workforce. In line with the Trump administration’s focus on apprenticeships, the Director and staff also discussed how apprenticeship programs can assist in diversity efforts and Affirmative Action requirements for contractors.
On January 24, 2018, the EEOC announced it had completed its mailing of the 2017 EEO-1 survey Notification Letters and all employers that qualify must file EEO-1 Reports by March 31, 2018. You may remember that the EEOC recently revised the EEO-1 report, but following advice from AGC the Trump administration reversed the changes and no pay data is required to be reported. The current EEO-1 report is simply the “old” format that employers used to file the last round of reports in September 2016.
Construction employment increased in 269 out of 358 metro areas between December 2016 and December 2017, declined in 43 and stagnated in 46, according to a new analysis of federal employment data released today by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials said new infrastructure funding would help ensure firms continue to expand their headcount in 2018.
AGC has been involved in efforts to streamline the environmental review and permitting process since the late 1990s to allow transportation and other infrastructure projects to progress to construction quicker. While there have been many successes, the effort continues to today as AGC works with the Trump Administration and the Congress in an effort to remove bottlenecks and eliminate delays. In response to Congressional direction, the General Accountability Office (GAO) released a report this week assessing the use of these provisions and whether they have accelerated project delivery. GAO reports that since 2005, over 30 provisions have been enacted in law to speed up the delivery of highway and transit projects, mainly by streamlining the NEPA review process. These project delivery provisions included new categorical exclusions which allow for a less intense environmental review on certain projects, and a provision allowing US DOT to assign federal NEPA approval authority to states.
The Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) is the leading association for the construction industry. AGC represents more than 27,000 firms, including over 6,500 of America’s leading general contractors, and over 9,000 specialty-contracting firms. More than 10,500 service providers and suppliers are also associated with AGC, all through a nationwide network of chapters.