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All ABC chapters in Pennsylvania will be participating. Register at abcpa.org
The legislature is back from the summer recess and has started the fall voting session, which lasts through December. Last week, House and Senate Republican leaders held a press conference where they outlined main areas of focus for the reminder of the year. Those priorities include: (1) the Administration’s school mask mandate; (2) election reform; (3) legislative recommendations included in the Auditor General’s report on the pandemic waivers; and (4) legislative measures dealing with the opioid epidemic.
In previous Spokesman articles, you read about the progress the government affairs team has made in calling for an end to discriminatory rules in the apprenticeship training standards. In August and September, ABC chapters were proud to host members of the House Labor & Industry Committee to tour training facilities and participate in a roundtable discussion on our concerns. Those events were a tremendous success and put a spotlight on the unfairness between joint and non-joint rules.
As ABC members are aware, our association has been advocating strongly for changes to state-mandated apprentice-to-journeyworker ratio rules. Under a 60-year-old rule, merit shop contractors are required to have four journeyworkers supervise each apprentice. On the other hand, joint apprenticeship programs have unilateral flexibility in setting ratios through their collective bargaining agreements. We believe two set of standards is unfair and discriminatory.
August is typically a time where state and federal elected officials are on recess and preparing for the fall sessions. While this year is no exception, it does not mean we are taking a break representing your interests. Over the summer, ABC of Pennsylvania staff will be working on internal and externals affairs.
To my fellow construction industry friends: is it just me, or are you, too, sensing an unfair trend in the policies and practices of the current administration? It sure seems like they are creating an atmosphere that is highly toxic for free enterprise!
I ask you to consider a current bill that is requiring all large government jobs to have a PLA (Project Labor Agreement). Simply interpreted, this means that only union contractors may bid the job. The ramifications of this are obvious – the end of free enterprise as we know it! The passage of this bill means that over 80% of contractors are unable to bid government jobs, and for ABC especially, this is unacceptable.
The legislature is in recess through the end of September, which provides time for the government affairs team to prepare for the fall session and map out future strategies. In October, we are planning the first in-person advocacy event since the COVID-19 shutdown. ABC members will have an opportunity to meet directly with key legislators in Harrisburg to advocate for policy priorities that impact the construction industry.
In addition to communicating directly with legislators, it is important that ABC financially support free enterprise candidates. There are important seats up for election in the 2022 cycle, and there is no doubt Pennsylvania will be a key state in determining the majorities in the U.S. House and U.S. Senate.
It is hard to believe that we are already halfway through 2021, and we are beginning to think about 2022. During the last 16 months, things felt like they would never get back to normal, yet the time flew by quite quickly. So, how have the first six months of 2021 turned out, and what is in store moving forward for ABC Keystone?
Are you along for the ride, just going with the flow, or are you directing the course and determining the outcome? As businesspersons, leaders, and managers, are we spending our talents and treasure on those activities that bring the best results, or, are we allowing time and events to slowly divert control of our companies away from our choices and decision-making and instead towards mandates made by government? Are we voluntarily giving up control?
It was a busy and impactful June for ABC public policy priorities. The House Commerce Committee advanced House Bill 424, which would prohibit indemnity clauses in construction contracts, by a vote of 23-1. We anticipate the bill will advance to the full House in the fall session. We provided comments on various pieces of legislation that would impact our members. We also supported legislation that would waive federal environmental permits on construction sites of less than five acres. Most significantly, we saw action on legislation (House Bill 536) that would reform the state’s mandated journeyworker-to-apprentice ratio rules, which have discriminated against the merit shop for 60 years.
A new session is well underway, and ABC is making a difference. Along with COVID-19 issues, the top priority of elected leaders in Harrisburg is preparing a 2021-22 state budget and passing legislation that gets Pennsylvanians back to work. Despite the ongoing pandemic, ABC of Pennsylvania’s government affairs program has been highly active. Though we are only six months into the new session, we have made progress on the following issues:
We are now in the month of June. It is our mid-way point for 2021, and I want to begin by recognizing and congratulating our dedicated Apprenticeship leaders and training staff for a championship year! Cindy DeWire (Director of Apprenticeship), her assistant Erin Hiles, and our instructors have done a great job making this an incredibly successful year – we thank you all for your hard work and dedication! Your outstanding efforts have allowed ABC Keystone to graduate the largest class in over 15 years! 108 apprentices from seven trades walked the stage on May 20, at the Clipper Magazine Stadium (home of the Lancaster Barnstormers)!