ISSA Members Star in Real-Life Political TheaterBy John Nothdurft | December 23, 2020 << Back to Articles
In 2020, the cleaning industry has transitioned from an industry working “behind the scenes” to being “in the limelight.” The industry by and large has stepped up in a big way and continues to daily. Manufacturers were and still are being asked to step up to source, produce, and deliver as much hand sanitizer and disinfectants as they can.
Many manufacturers are operating 24/7 just to keep up with demand for these essential products. Cleaning service providers and their essential front-line workers quickly adjusted their product use and practices to ensure they were staying up to date with the latest federal guidelines for cleaning, disinfecting, and personal protective equipment procedures to help protect themselves and the public from SARS-CoV-2.
The increased spotlight on the cleaning industry has also brought increased visibility and interest from policymakers and regulators. The voice of the cleaning industry is now actively being sought and listened to by Congress, governors, regulators, and even the White House. The strength of the industry’s voice, with these key audiences, has never been stronger.
Increased member interest
As expected, the industry has stepped up to have their voice heard in Washington, DC and beyond. I have seen it firsthand, having had the pleasure of engaging with and answering questions from hundreds of ISSA members on different issues ranging from state stay-at-home orders, paid emergency leave rules, the paycheck protection program, and other state and federal issues.
On the regulatory front, ISSA has worked with manufacturers and distributors of cleaning products and equipment to keep them up to date in an ever-evolving regulatory environment.
The increased interest and engagement by ISSA’s membership in public policy has skyrocketed in the year 2020. For instance, more than 2,200 individuals participated in at least one of our legislative or regulatory webinars this year compared to just a few hundred in 2019. Additionally, we have seen a 150% increase in advocates signing up for our legislative and regulatory updates.
Even though ISSA’s grassroots advocacy program is barely a year old, more than 1,750 different people have reached out to their elected officials through ISSA’s Action Center. Since March, more than 15,000 messages have been sent to more than 2,250 different federal and state elected officials.
While these are great data points to track and show a quantifiable increase in the interest and engagement by ISSA members, the most important question any association should ask itself is, “Are we making a difference?”
Fortunately, the combination of this increased involvement by our members in the political process, ISSA’s renewed investment in our advocacy efforts, and the new spotlight on the industry have combined to lead to some significant policy and regulatory “wins.”
Policymakers are listening to you
Here are just a few examples of how ISSA members are shaping the legislative and regulatory environment at the state and federal levels.
In October, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reached out and invited members of the Association of Residential Cleaning Services International (ARCSI), a division of ISSA, to participate in a virtual meeting focused on the agency’s current COVID-19-related guidance and any gaps in the materials. During the meeting, three ISSA members shared with OSHA the challenges cleaning service providers currently face, such as dealing with different federal, state, and local guidelines and access to appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and necessary cleaning products.
ISSA and our members are also having important conversations with regulatory bodies, such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Department of Labor, Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and others, and are helping to educate regulators and shape future rules and regulations for the industry.
In May, Hard Rock Stadium, home of the Miami Dolphins was the first public facility to announce they were pursuing ISSA’s GBAC STAR™ accreditation. Fast forward to August, just prior to the kickoff of the NFL season, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis held a press conference announcing limited attendance for events at the stadium. During his remarks, he mentioned the need to follow proper hygiene and cleaning protocols as well as specifically mentioned GBAC STAR™ as a reason the stadium could reopen. The Governor’s office has much more knowledge about the industry and ISSA today than it did even six months ago.
In March, ISSA began brainstorming how we could impact the ongoing federal discussions related to COVID-19 relief. During a staff call, Dianna Steinbach, ISSA’s vice president of international services mentioned that Italy had passed a tax credit to help businesses cover some of their cleaning-related expenses. ISSA and its lobbying team went to work reaching out to members of the U.S. Congress, pitching the idea. Simultaneously, we reached out to ISSA members for their feedback about what should be included in such a tax credit and to get members engaged.
The combination of some of our members having personal relationships with their members of Congress and being able to tell local stories to these offices, resulted in multiple healthy and safe workplace tax credit bills being introduced and supported in a bipartisan manner in both chambers of Congress. Additionally, ISSA recruited more than 40 trade associations to endorse and proactively lobby in support of the tax credit, which we are working to be included in a future relief package.
Help us write the next scene (or bill)
As we move into 2021 with a new Congress and many new lawmakers, I hope each ISSA member understands that your voice matters and that it is critically important in helping your business, your employees, and the industry to thrive. The successes above are not the epilogues, but rather the first scene of a much longer story, and if you don’t help us write the next scene (or bill) then who will?
About the Author.
John Nothdurft is the Director of Government Affairs for ISSA. He can be reached at [email protected].