December 5th, 2019 
Volume 21, No. 49


 

Contents


OSHA Hosts Public Hearing on Beryllium Rule

On Tuesday, December 3, 2019, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) held a public hearing to address the proposes revisions to the department’s beryllium standard for shipyard and construction workers. The proposed rule would revise the following paragraphs:  Definitions; Methods of Compliance; Respiratory Protection; Personal Protective Clothing and Equipment; Hygiene Areas and Practices; Housekeeping; Medical Surveillance; Hazard Communication; and Record keeping. During the hearing, labor and worker health advocates called on OSHA to reinstate beryllium protection rules.

 Per OSHA, inhaling particles of beryllium can lead to chronic beryllium disease, which is a scaring of lung tissue that makes it difficult to breath. Beryllium is an extremely strong and light metal commonly used in aircraft and spacecraft as well as in weapons and nuclear power plants. OSHA said the proposed revisions would bring the shipbuilding and construction mandates in line with rules for manufacturing. All three rules require employers to keep airborne beryllium exposure limits below the permissible exposure limit of 0.2 micrograms per cubic meter of air (0.2µg/m3) measured over eight hours, 80% lower than the previous limit.

Among the contentious points related to the beryllium rules are which tasks expose workers to beryllium. OSHA’s proposal for construction sees the primary cause of worker exposure is using coal slag—the gritty remnants of coal burned in power plants—to blast paint off metal surfaces. Speakers said construction workers at factories where beryllium metal is shaped into machine parts need to be protected from beryllium dust that collects inside walls and ceilings. There also were concerns about exposure to beryllium fumes during welding.

 


This Week in Congress

Returning from the Thanksgiving Congressional Recess, both the House and Senate were in session this week.  Prior to the recess, the House and the Senate passed another continuing resolution to fund the government through December 20th. Over the next three weeks, House and Senate negotiators will continue discussions on how to fund the government into 2020. On Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee officially began its impeachment hearings.


New Kabbage Data Shows Small Business Growth

The Kabbage Small Business Revenue Index reports small businesses in the U.S. achieved revenue growth across every state and industry in the first half (1H) of the calendar year 2019. The Kabbage Index Value (KIV), a value used to track revenue growth of small businesses, increased almost 22 points, from 136.8 to 158.4, indicating U.S. small businesses’ median revenue grew 15.7% in the first six months of the year. This represents a 22% point increase compared to the same time period in 2018 and a large contrast from the second half of 2018 when small business revenue only grew 1.8%.

Drawing from real-time revenue data of more than 200,000 small businesses throughout the U.S., the Kabbage Small Business Revenue Index is an aggregated and anonymized analysis of small business performance. To measure ongoing revenue growth, the KIV adjusts accordingly to the monthly median-revenue growth of small businesses. With an initial Kabbage Index Value of 100 in January 2017, small businesses’ median revenue has grown a total of 58% through June 30, 2019. 

Set apart from other small business research tools, the Kabbage Small Business Revenue Index tracks truly small businesses. Of all businesses evaluated, 83% have fewer than 10 employees with median annual revenues of $280,000.

Click here to read the full article.


Registration for SUBExcel 2020

is Now Open!

March 4-7, 2020 in Las Vegas, NV

 

SUBExcel is American Subcontractors Association's annual meeting, the perfect place for you to join YOUR association working hard for the needs of construction subcontractors, specialty trade contractors and suppliers. Perks of attending SUBExcel include:

  • Get proven business tips from acclaimed speakers that will transform your company and your bottom line to succeed in today’s construction markets.
  • Learn about the latest productivity-enhancing products and services provided by ASA exhibitors.
  • Enjoy the luxury hotel accommodations.
  • Enjoy special events, including the ASA President’s Welcome Reception and the Final Reception & Banquet.
  • Take a deeper look at your industry, your chapter, and your association and be part of mapping our industry’s path forward in ASA’s task force, committee and council meetings.
  • And much more!

Today's economy is changing at an ever-increasing pace, and business owners need to be prepared for both the successes and the obstacles of the future.  Making sure your business is financially sound is crucial in today's competitive market, and ASA wants to help you be as strong as you can be for the years ahead. 

In keeping with this idea, the theme of SUBExcel 2020 will be “The Economy Moving Forward”. Several education workshops will focus on strengthening your business financially for the future.

 
Register Today for SUBExcel 2020!

The “Do Nothing” 116th Congress?

As the first year of the 116th Congress nears an end, the prospects for major legislative achievements have dwindled with the House passing hundreds of bills including legislation that would establish new voting rights protections, campaign finance reforms, pay equality for women and checks on gun purchases, but the vast majority of those bills have been ignored by the Senate.  Conversely, the Republican Senate Leadership argues that the Democrats are to blame “for the gridlock by focusing squarely on liberal messaging bills that have no chance of moving through the Senate. From the Republicans' perspective, Democrats abandoned their legislative responsibilities when they launched their impeachment investigation into President Trump.”  

Below is a list of House passed bills at the center of the stalemate that have not received a vote in the Senate: 

  • H.R. 1: The For the People Act – would issue reforms designed to empower voters, prevent foreign interference in elections and overhaul campaign finance rules, including a new legal requirement that all presidential candidates release their tax returns. 
  • H.R. 5: The Equality Act – would include sexual orientation and gender identity, codifying protections in employment, housing and other arenas for the LGBTQ community in states that don't already have them on the books.  Many Republicans reject the measure on the grounds that it would encroach on constitutionally mandated religious freedoms while creating an unfair playing field in women's sporting competitions.
  • H.R. 6: The American Dream and Promise Act - Better known as the Dream Act, would provide legal protections to hundreds of thousands of young, undocumented immigrants brought to the country illegally as children. 
  • H.R. 7: The Paycheck Fairness Act – would amend decades-old laws aimed at ending gender wage discrimination in the workplace.  Also, the bill would offer employees new freedoms to disclose their wages and require employers to demonstrate that pay discrepancies are based on legitimate, job-related factors.
  • H.R. 8: The Bipartisan Background Checks Act - would expand federal background checks prior to the sale of firearms. 
  • H.R. 9: The Climate Action Now Act – would prevent the President from withholding federal funds needed to underwrite the withdrawal. It would also require the president to develop an annual plan for meeting the greenhouse gas reduction benchmarks established in the landmark Paris agreement.
  • H.R. 397: The Rehabilitation for Multi-employer Pensions Act - Known as the Butch Lewis Act, H.R. 397 is designed to stabilize the looming crisis facing multi-employer pension plans, which cover an estimated 10 million workers. The bill would create a federal trust fund providing low-interest government-backed loans, to be repaid by the ailing plans over 30 years.
  • H.R. 582: The Raise the Wage Act - The minimum wage was last increased in 2009 to $7.25 an hour and this legislation would increase that rate to $15 an hour by increments over a six-year span, while providing inflation-indexed increases thereafter. It would also eliminate the discrepancy in minimum wage requirements for tipped workers, who generally receive a much lower rate.
  • H.R. 1585: The Violence Against Women Re-authorization Act 
  • H.R. 1644: The Save the Internet Act - Under the Obama Administration, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted so-called net neutrality rules, designed to provide all internet users equal access by prohibiting providers from enhancing service to those willing to pay more. Under the Trump Administration, the FCC scrapped those requirements in 2017. The Save the Internet Act would reapply the Obama-era rules and codify them into law, making it more difficult for future administrations to dismantle them.

 


Changes to Crane Operator Testing Eligibility

The National Commission for Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO) no longer will require a physical evaluation for workers to be eligible to take its certification exams. Per a Monday, November 18, 2019 press release, NCCCO will being relying on employers to determine whether their workers are physically qualified to operate the equipment as of January 1, 2020. NCCO notes that physical demands on a crane operator can change depending on the type and configuration of a crane, along with the work environment. NCCCO states that these are “facts known only to an employer rather than the certification body.” 


Retail Ban of Methylene Chloride Paint Strippers

On November 23, 2019, EPA announced the retail ban on the sale of methylene chloride paint strippers.  Methylene chloride is a potentially lethal chemical found in painting stripping products and it has been shown to release toxic fumes that can turn to carbon monoxide in the lungs.  In March 2019, the EPA issued a final rule to prohibit the manufacture, processing, and distribution, as well as import of methylene chloride in consumer paint removers.


Are You Working To Engage Young People in the Trades?  Tell ASA About It!

We want to hear from you!  Tell us how you are working to engage young people and new employees in the trades.  Are you working with programs like Helmets to Hardhats?  Does your company have a partnership with a local community college, university or apprenticeship program??  How do you connect with your local community?

The American Subcontractors Association is currently working to gather all of your amazing ideas to be able to share with other ASA chapters around the country.  Let us know how you reach out to young, new talent, as well as your best practices in each initiative.

Have something exciting to share?  Email us your ideas at communications@asa-hq.com.  We can't wait to hear from you!


Impeachment Update

The House impeachment inquiry entered a new phase this week with hearings scheduled before the House Judiciary Committee.  On Monday, the White House Counsel Pat Cipollone rejected Judiciary Chairman Nadler‘s (D-N.Y.) invitation for the President’s legal team to take part in Wednesday’s hearing.  Per a House resolution adopted in October, Intelligence Chair Schiff (D-CA) must send the Judiciary Committee a formal report of his panel’s findings and recommendations.  On Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee held their first impeachment hearing discussing the constitutional basis for impeachment and whether the President’s actions meet that threshold.


Exciting Things to Do in Las Vegas During SUBExcel

While your in Las Vegas during the 2020 SUBExcel conference, take advantage of the opportunity to see the sights in this beautiful American city!  Las Vegas not only has the exciting high energy neon-lit Vegas Strip, but also offers beautiful desert landscapes for the outdoors enthusiast as well.  Here are just a few of the incredible sites to see during you trip to SUBExcel!

Explore Red Rock Canyon

Red Rock Canyon features a one-way 13-mile scenic drive, as well as 26 numbered hikes and trails, plants and wildlife, geology, camping, cultural resources and much more. Enjoy the beautiful landscape of the Mohave Desert, and learn more during your visit with both indoor and outdoor exhibits available.

Shopping in Las Vegas

The hotels and casinos in Las Vegas not only have incredible gaming, but also a wide variety of shopping opportunities all throughout the Vegas Strip.  Nearly every casino had multiple shops within the hotel, including the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace where SUBExcel will be held, making Las Vegas the perfect place to shop for those items that will take Las Vegas home with you.
 

Still need to register to join us at SUBExcel? 
CLICK HERE TO REGISTER TODAY!

 

Help Defend Our Future by Supporting the Subcontractors Legal Defense Fund

ASA underwrites the legal costs of filing "friend-of-the-court" briefs to inform the Court regarding the broader impact of relevant cases throughout the country. We have won dozens of these cases since 1997, vindicating subcontractor rights today and into the future!

Each year, courts across the country hand down hundreds of decisions on federal and state laws, as well as court-made or "case"law, that apply to subcontractors' businesses. Many of the decisions impacting subcontractors interpret the contract provisions of subcontract agreements—provisions like pay-if-paid, hold harmless, duty-to-defend, and no-damages-for-delay. Some of these decisions are precedent-setting and carry significance for subcontractors across state lines.

ASA's Subcontractors Legal Defense Fund supports ASA's critical legal activities in precedent-setting cases to protect the interests of all subcontractors. ASA taps the SLDF to fund amicus curiae, or  friend-of-the-court," briefs in appellate-level cases that would have a significant impact on subcontractor rights.


Support the SLDF Today!

2020 Government Funding Update

Before the Thanksgiving break, an agreement was reached on the subcommittee allocations.  Staff worked over the break to try and resolve the differences between the House and Senate bills.  Negotiations continued this week in hopes of reaching an agreement on all 12 funding bills prior to the December 20 deadline when the next continuing resolution (CR) expires, but with no agreement on funding for the border wall, another CR could be necessary for some if not all of the FY20 bills.  It appears that the plan will be to cobble together bills into a number of minibuses in hopes of enacting some of the non-controversial bills before the CR expires.


Farewell Sen. Isakson

This week, Georgia Republican Senator Isakson made his farewell address and will resign from Congress at the end of the year due to health issues.  Isakson has served in Congress since 1999, beginning in the House and moving to the Senate in 2005.  Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp is expected to appoint financial executive Kelly Loeffler to fill Isakson’s seat. Loeffler will need to run in 2020 to keep the seat, President Trump's pick for the seat, Rep. Doug Collins, could challenge her.


Upcoming Events


December 10th, 2019

DOL Issues New Salary Threshold Requirements,
Effective January 2020

by Bill Ford, SESCO Management Consultants

January 7th, 2020


Payment Clauses: What to Watch For and How to Negotiate Them
by James Yand and Brian Esler


 

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Learn more at commercebank.com/expensecard, or contact us at prepaidexpense@commercebank.com or 866-946-3017.
 
 
 
*This is a sponsored article.

 


 

Advocacy

ASA is the united voice dedicated to improving the business environment in the construction industry, representing subcontractors before all branches (executive, legislative, judicial) and levels (federal, state, local) of government, to organizations representing other parts of the construction industry, to the news media, and others.


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Exchange ideas and knowledge with your peers and other industry leaders.

Access to General Contractors, Owners, as well as other industry influencers.

Access to leading technology companies, manufacturers, suppliers and other industry service providers.


Education

ASA of West Virginia offer subcontractor-tailored events and education including Members-only educational resources ranging from model contract language to risk management and marketing tools. We also offer in-person and distance-learning educational events open to members and nonmembers for a fee.


Resources

24/7 access to model contracts.

Exclusive discounted offers on many valuable business products & services.

Complimentary Human Resource Services, Insurance Programs, Technology Providers and Other Industry Programs.

An entire library of learning tools and services.

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