January 16th, 2020
Volume 22, No. 2
Senate Approves USMC Trade Agreement
The Senate today overwhelmingly passed the new North American trade pact, now awaits President Trump’s signature, but the deal will not go into full effect until Canada approves the pact. Mexico already passed the revised deal in December, and Canada's House of Commons is expected to vote on the deal in coming weeks.
OSHA Raises Civil Penalties for 2020
On Wednesday, January 15, 2020, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced a final rule to raise civil penalties for workplace violations by 1.8 percent. The final rule implements annual inflation adjustments of civil monetary penalties assessed or enforced by OSHA and other agencies within the Department of Labor in 2020.
OSHA’s penalty increases for workplace safety and health violations include:
The new penalty amounts take effect immediately, applying to any penalties assessed after January 15, 2020.
- For a willful violation, in which an employer knowingly failed to comply with an OSHA standard or demonstrated a plain indifference for employee safety, the minimum penalty increases from $9,472 to $9,639 and the maximum penalty increases from $132,598 to $134,937;
- For each repeated violation for an identical or substantially similar violation previously cited by the agency, the penalty ceiling rises from $132,598 to $134,937;
- For each serious violation for workplace hazards that could cause an accident or illness that would most likely result in death or serious physical harm, the maximum penalty increases from $13,260 to $13,494;
- For each other-than-serious violation, the maximum penalty increases from $13,260 to $13,494;
- For each failure to correct violation, the maximum penalty increases from $13,260 to $13,494; and
- For each posting requirement violation, the maximum penalty increases from $13,260 to $13,494.
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.
Department of Labor Updates:
New Salary Threshold and Bonus Opportunities under the Fluctuating Workweek
In 2019, companies were fined in excess of $333,000,000 which far surpasses any other previous year. This trend will continue and, in fact, SESCO expects more and more employers to be investigated for FLSA compliance.
A common misconception is that Wage and Hour disputes fall under the umbrella of Employment Practices Liability Insurance (EPLI). Although some Wage and Hour coverage may be found under EPLI, it is very unlikely and also depends how much you may be paying for coverage and the carrier’s willingness to offer the coverage. As such, your organization should be very proactive in conducting labor and employment law audits to include compliance to the Fair Labor Standards Act so as to avoid significant violations due to noncompliance.
Although not an all-inclusive list, the most common Wage and Hour violations that we find in FLSA cases and in our auditing practice include:
- Working off the clock or improper deductions – Pre-work, break times (less than 30 minutes), being interrupted while on lunch or working before or after clocking in or out are common violations.
- Paying nonexempt positions on an exempt salaried basis – A prime violation is paying managers and administrative staff on an exempt guaranteed salary basis when, in fact, these positions are typically nonexempt and thus due overtime for hours worked in excess of 40 hours per week (federal).
- Not paying overtime on bonuses and incentives – Employers must compute overtime on nondiscretionary bonus and incentive payments such as commissions for sales, attendance and safety bonuses, incentive payments for a job well done, etc.
Click here to read the full article from ASA and SESCO Management Consultants.
Sen. McConnell stated that when the Senate receives the articles of impeachment from the House, he has the votes to set the ground rules for the trial without Democratic support. As in President Clinton’s impeachment trial, the Senate would not decide on whether to hear additional witness testimony until later in the process. Democrats are pushing for an initial agreement regarding witnesses, arguing that a number of potential witnesses were blocked from appearing before the House. Speaker Pelosi said that she is not ready to send the articles of impeachment to the Senate until she hears more details regarding the trial.
War Powers Act
The House voted on a resolution that would prevent future military hostilities against Iran if Congress does not pass a new authorization of military force. The Senate may take vote on a similar resolution, but no date has been set for that vote.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. We can't wait to hear from you!
Presenting the SUBExcel 2020 Keynote Speaker: Martha Ann Marley
Martha Ann Marley of M.A. Surety will be presenting the Keynote Address during the 2020 SUBExcel convention in Las Vegas, Nevada. Her presentation, "Economic Update", will focus on the economic forecast and how to profitably maneuver through the next cycle.
M.A. Surety is a surety agency and consultancy for the commercial construction industry located in Mooresville, North Carolina. Founder and President, Martha-Ann Marley, is a North Carolina native and graduate of N.C. State University. She began her career with a national insurance company as a commercial bond underwriter and has since held various management and executive level positions in the industry.
?Marley serves as speaker and teacher at commercial construction seminars and conferences throughout the country. She has authored articles for publications on a wide range of topics designed to help contractors achieve and maintain maximum profitability.
Register today for SUBExcel to take advantage of the opportunity to hear this important Keynote Address.
OSHA Statement on Headphones at the Construction Site
The Occupational Safety Hazard and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a response to employers’ questions regarding the hazards behind headphones for music on construction sites with a letter of interpretation. Employers noted that some headphones were advertised as “OSHA approved” and wanted to know if the organization had any regulations related to the product (s). OSHA stated that while it does not have a regulation that prohibits the use of headphones, the letter outlines many hazards and issues employers should consider if they allow the use of music headphones on site.
The key takeaway of OSHA’s letter is that employers are ultimately responsible for making the decision on whether to allow music headphones on construction sites. If the use of headphones would expose employees to potential hazards, employers could still be liable for a violation of the general duty clause.
To review the letter of interpretation in its entirety, click here.
2020 Legislative Fly-In
June 9-10, 2020
Are you an ASA member interested in walking the halls of Capitol Hill to advocate for public policy that strengthens the rights and interests of subcontractors in the construction industry?
The ASA is holding its Annual Legislative Fly-In on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC to allow members to engage their lawmakers on key policy issues impacting the construction industry. ASA members are encouraged to join the conversation on Capitol Hill by participating in a one-day Fly-In to take our message directly to members of Congress and their staff.
The Fly-In program includes:
Stay tuned for registration details in early 2020!
- Meetings on The Hill with your Members of Congress or their staff;
- A briefing session on ASA’s legislative priorities in Congress and training on lobbying and influencing your elected officials; and
- Networking with your ASA peers from across the country.
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.
What to Expect from OSHA in 2020
By: David Sparkman, IndustryWeek
Don’t expect the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to slow down as it enters the fifth decade of its existence, following a year of heightened activity in support of its workplace safety mission.
An agency of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), OSHA spent 2019 increasing its number of employer inspections and pursuing new rulemakings and programs. In fiscal year 2019, It conducted 33,401 inspections—more inspections than the previous three years—addressing violations related to trenching, falls, chemical exposure, silica exposure and other hazards.
The enforcement numbers do not include 22 state plans which are responsible for covering both private sector and state and local government workers, and six additional states covering only state and local government workers. Those states rely on their own resources and assistance from federal OSHA to enforce both federal and state worker safety laws, and have not yet released their enforcement statistics for this year.
Click here to read the full article.
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*This is a sponsored article.
|Disclaimer of Endorsement and Liability
The American Subcontractors Association (ASA) does not endorse or recommend any commercial products, processes, or services. Therefore, mention of commercial products, processes, or services should not be construed as an endorsement or recommendation.
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.
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.
ASA of Maine 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.
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.
Reasons to Join ASA of Maine