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ISSA Advocacy Weekly Recap – July 19, 2019

July 19, 2019 ISSA Advocacy Weekly Recap – July 19, 2019

Welcome to the ISSA Advocacy Weekly Recap! This is ISSA’s regular roundup of the latest public policy related issues impacting the cleaning industry.

Webinar Rewind

On July 10, ISSA hosted a webinar about the cleaning industry’s current legislative and regulatory outlook. During the webinar, ISSA Director of Government Affairs John Nothdurft and ISSA General Counsel Bill Balek discussed the association’s advocacy efforts and accomplishments already underway, and our forward-looking plans to shape a legislative and regulatory environment that will allow the worldwide cleaning industry to thrive.

In spring 2019, ISSA surveyed member companies across the supply chain and found broad support as well as demand for increasing our advocacy efforts. Of the 496 responses, 73% take ISSA’s advocacy efforts into consideration when renewing their membership, 65% said they would take some action on an important issue to them, and 55% want ISSA to do more advocacy while only 5% do not.

Some of the top general issue areas our members mentioned include labor shortages, labor costs, chemicals regulations, and the increased costs of doing business. You can watch the full webinar at ISSA TV or at the bottom of this article.

Labor Issues

U.S. Congress Passes Minimum Wage Increase
On July 18, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 231-199 to pass the Raise the Wage Act (H.R. 582), which would gradually increase the federal minimum wage to US$15 per hour by 2025. A nonpartisan July U.S. Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report estimates the bill would “boost the wages of 17 million workers who would otherwise earn less than $15 per hour,” helping “reverse pay inequality.” However, the report also notes the wage increase “can affect the employment of some workers,” with a median estimate of 1.3 million becoming unemployed. Because employers may look to scale back on costs in other ways, workers could also see cuts into hours and/or nonwage benefits.

Current Economic Climate of Small Businesses
According to a new report from Paychex/IHS Markit Small Business Employment Watch, job growth declined by 1.09% year-over year in June. Hourly earnings increased by 2.65% year-over-year, to which Paychex president and CEO Martin Mucci commented: “it appears the challenging hiring environment is finally starting to push wage growth higher for small business workers.” However, hours worked remains negative, causing weekly earnings to fall by 2.02% to a “four-year low.” 

Ruling Allows Employers to Give Labor Unions the Boot
According to CMM,“Companies may be eager to remove labor unions due to a fear of working with organized labor.” Now, a National Labor Relations Board ruling relaxes the process employers must take to oust a union when a majority of the company’s workers do not support it. To best work with labor unions, CMM suggests that facility management firms hire the right leader, initiate collaboration, be wary of erroneous client comments, be mindful of inherited contracts, and hold all parties accountable.

A National Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights
On July 15, Sen. Kamala Harris and Rep. Pramila Jayapal, in partnership with the National Domestic Worker’s Alliance, introduced the National Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights. According to TIME, the proposed legislation would “extend civil rights protections against sexual harassment and racial discrimination to domestic workers, by setting a standard for written employment agreements, as well as guaranteeing paid sick leave and overtime pay for domestic workers.”

Chemical Regulations

The Very First Alternatives Analysis is Set to Occur Under the California Safer Consumer Products Program
Five manufacturers of methylene chloride paint removers will be the first companies to commit to an alternatives analysis under California’s Safer Consumer Products Program. California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) identified the paint strippers as a priority product, so the 11 companies selling this product had to decide by July 1 whether to conduct an alternatives analysis or pull their products from shelves in California. The remaining six manufacturers of the product opted to stop sale. ISSA will be paying close attention to the outcome since two chemicals relevant to the cleaning industry (1,4-Dioxane and NPEs) are currently being considered by the DTSC for future priority products.

Public Comment is Underway for Canadian VOC Regulations
The Canadian government is currently considering limits on Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC). According to ChemicalWatch, the proposal would align its regulations closely with the 2010 version of the California Air Resources Board (Carb) consumer products regulations. If finalized, the regulations would become effective “January 1 of the year following the two-year anniversary of their adoption, with an extra year for disinfectants to comply.” The government is holding a public comment period until September 19. All comments and notices must cite the Canada Gazette, Part I, the date of publication of the notice (July 6), and be addressed to the Director, Products Division, Department of the Environment, 351 Saint-Joseph Boulevard, Gatineau, Quebec K1A 0H3 (email: [email protected]; fax: 819‑938‑4480).

Public Comment for 1,4-Dioxane Draft Risk Evaluation Also Underway
Along with 9 other chemicals, 1,4-Dioxane is currently undergoing risk evaluation by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Lautenberg Act. Its draft risk evaluation has been released and is available for public comment until August 30, 2019. Through its assessment, the EPA “did not find unreasonable risk to the environment,” but did find that there “could be unreasonable risks to workers in certain circumstances.” As a result, the EPA may impose requirements such as “stricter limits on the manufacturing and processing, or limits on concentrations used or produced.”

Taxes & Tariffs

Reiterated Threat of Tariffs Are Prolonging a U.S.-China Deal; Manufacturers Suffering
Two weeks after the truce was made, President Trump reiterated the tariff threat, stating that “we have another $325 billion we can put a tariff on, if we want.” China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman says that imposing new tariffs on China would “create a new obstacle for U.S. and China trade negotiations, [making] the road to coming to an agreement longer.”

Admits the tariffs, the IHS Markit Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index reveals that “U.S. manufacturing growth is weakest since 2016,” causing U.S. manufacturing companies to shift production out of China and into other Asian countries such as Vietnam, India, and Malaysia where costs are lower than the U.S.

House Ways and Means Committee Approves Tax Extenders Bill
The Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Tax Relief Act (H.R. 3301) was approved by The House Ways and Means Committee. According to Building Service Contractors Association International (BSCAI), the act would extend a host of tax incentives that expired in 2017 through 2020, including empowerment zone tax incentives, employer credit for paid family and medical leave, work opportunity for credit, employee retention credit for employers affected by qualified disasters, and estate tax reduction. No legislation has been passed by the committee.

Immigration

Delays in Immigration Hurt U.S. Companies
In today’s tight labor market, employers are struggling “to meet their staffing needs due to the increasing unpredictability and extreme processing delays caused by government inefficiency” According to Marketa Lindt, immigration lawyer and president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. The agency’s processing times have “increased by 19 percent,” resulting in “damaging consequences that affect millions of individuals, families, and American businesses throughout the nation.” 

House Passes Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act
On July 10, The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act (H.R. 1044), which would “eliminate the per-country cap on employment-based visas and replace it with a ‘first come, first serve’ system,” according to BSCAI. The bill would also “raise the per country cap for family-sponsored immigrant visas from 7% to 15%,” and “be implemented over a three year phase-in period.” Companion legislation has not yet been voted on.