Walberg Statement: Hearing on “Reviewing the Rules and Regulations Implementing Federal Wage and Hour Standards”
Failing to keep up with the changing workplace, the law’s regulatory structure has become more complex and burdensome. Both employees and employers have difficulty understanding their rights and responsibilities and must constantly contend with conflicting legal interpretations of the law. Despite sincere efforts to act in the best interest of workers, many well-intentioned employers face costly legal battles because of a flawed regulatory system, and we have evidence to back that up.
A report from the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office revealed a surge in FLSA lawsuits during the past 20 years, with the number of lawsuits increasing by 514 percent since 1991. Let me repeat that – there has been a 514 percent increase in FLSA-related litigation over the last 25 years. That is a troubling increase and strong indication that something is not working.
To help address this significant problem, GAO urged the Department of Labor to “develop a systematic approach for identifying areas of confusion about the FLSA that contribute to possible violations and improving the guidance it provides to employers and workers in those areas.”
Simply stated, we need a system that holds bad actors accountable when they break the law, but that also helps law-abiding employers uphold their obligations. I hope some of our witnesses will shed light on whether the department is implementing GAO’s recommendations and what impact it may be having on our nation’s workplaces.
However, even the best administrative guidance cannot make up for other shortcomings that exist and are harming those working hardest to jumpstart the economy.
This isn’t the first time these concerns have been raised. In fact, this subcommittee has held a number of hearings in recent years looking at this very same issue. It has been a focus of our continued oversight for a simple reason: We want to ensure the regulations that underpin the Fair Labor Standards Act serve the best interests of both American workers and employers.
As Chairman Kline and I noted a year ago, we are ready and willing to be a partner in a responsible effort to modernize current regulations, but I would stress that it must be a responsible effort. The American people deserve a system that is simple, clear, and can meet the demands of the modern workplace. The last thing policymakers should do – including those in the administration – is to make a bad regulatory system worse.
In the coming days, the department is expected to release a proposal intended to “update” federal wage and hour regulations. Rumors are running rampant, and we know concerns are being raised about what the proposal may entail. Thanks to an administration notorious for overreaching and governing through executive fiat, I share many of those same concerns. I expect we will continue to hear about the consequences for workers and job creators if the administration goes too far in the regulatory proposal it is expected to release.
However, hope springs eternal, and it is my hope the department will heed these concerns and ultimately put forward a proposal that encourages – rather than stifles – productivity, personal opportunity, and economic growth. Any proposal that would inflict harm on the nation’s workplaces and move the country in the wrong direction will be opposed by this committee and, no doubt, the American people.
With that, I will now recognize the senior Democratic member of the subcommittee, Representative Frederica Wilson, for her opening remarks.
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I just returned last week from NAWBO National’s Advocacy and Public Policy Day in Washington, D.C. where a group of NAWBO leaders with a passion for making an impact for U.S. women entrepreneurs gathered on Capitol Hill to meet with policy makers and talk about issues that are challenging us the most today as we start, grow and scale our businesses.
It got me thinking about what a tremendous learning opportunity it was—for me as a woman business owner stepping outside of my day-to-day business to take part in something much bigger than myself and my own business, and for these policy makers to really learn first-hand the unique challenges we face today as women business owners that NAWBO members know so well.
Opportunities like this—to learn and grow—are hard to make time for when we are running successful businesses. However, they are really important as women entrepreneurs because they connect us with diverse new people, engage and excite us and open our minds to different ideas and perspectives that we perhaps would have never thought of on our own.
Learning comes in all forms, whether you decide to return to college to obtain a master’s degree or professional certificate; work through becoming a certified woman-owned business and then take advantage of the opportunities that exist surrounding this certification; take part is e-learning opportunities, like NAWBO’s monthly e-learning series on timely business topics; or even just make an effort to learn from those around you—from your employees in your company and from your sisters at NAWBO.
This issue of NAWBO ONE is about education and learning, which is rather appropriate considering that every issue of our e-publication is designed to help our community members to learn and grow. I hope you’ll take the time to read great articles like our Member Spotlight on Wendy Bird of Pearls with Purpose. She has an amazing organization that teaches self-sustainability and hope to women in developing countries—by simply teaching them how to make jewelry. Wendy is also our top winner of NAWBO’s 2015 No Small Thing Video Contest, so be sure to check out her winning submission!
I’d love to hear from you about how you continue to learn and grow as a woman entrepreneur. How do you find the time? What opportunities have you found most valuable? If you could learn anything new, what would it be and why?
—Darla Beggs, NAWBO National Board Chair
PS: This will be my final blog as National Board Chair. It’s been an incredible journey and privilege to serve NAWBO’s community of women entrepreneurs in this role over the past year and I look forward to continuing on as your Past Chair. Meanwhile, congratulations to my friend and colleague Crystal Arredondo, who will be installed in a few weeks as the 2015-2016 Board Chair and will take over this blog. Thanks for reading!
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) sets forth federal wage and hour protections for public- and private-sector employees. Employees who are covered by the law’s requirements are referred to as “non-exempt” employees, and those who are not covered are considered “exempt” employees. Most professional, administrative, or managerial employees qualify as exempt as defined in regulations written and enforced by the Department of Labor. The regulatory structure surrounding the law has grown increasingly complex, burdensome, and outdated, producing an environment of legal uncertainty for employers and employees. The nonpartisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) found a significant increase in FLSA-related litigation in recent years and recommended the department develop a systematic approach to identifying areas of confusion and to improve guidance in those areas.
Wednesday’s hearing will provide an overview of the regulations implementing the Fair Labor Standards Act, as well as examine concerns with how current rules and enforcement policies affect workplaces. To learn more about the hearing, visit http://edworkforce.house.gov/hearings.
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Ms. Nicole Berberich
Human Resources Director
Cincinnati Animal Referral and Emergency (CARE) Center
Mr. Leonard Court
Crowe & Dunlevy
Oklahoma City, OK
The Honorable Seth Harris
Former Acting Secretary of Labor and Deputy Secretary of Labor
Mr. Jamie Richardson
White Castle System, Inc.
House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA) issued the following joint statement in response to today’s announcement from the Department of Education regarding Corinthian Colleges:
A lot of men and women have been hurt by this unfortunate situation, including low-income and minority students. Helping those eligible students who have been harmed is the right thing to do. We are pleased that the Department of Education will carefully review each claim and help qualified students receive the relief they may be entitled to. It is vitally important that we have a responsible process in place that is fair, transparent, and adheres to the law. We will remain in contact with the department throughout this process in order to ensure students, families, and taxpayers are protected now and in the future.
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The Road Ahead: Small Business and the Need for a Long-Term Surface Transportation Reauthorization
WASHINGTON – Today, House Small Business Committee members led by Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH) held a hearing titled, “The Road Ahead: Small Businesses and the Need for a Long-Term Surface Transportation Reauthorization,” where they heard from small business voices about the direct and indirect impacts of America’s weakening surface infrastructure on productivity.
“There are lots of projects throughout our nation that I could cite as examples of why our infrastructure is important, but none that is closer to home for me than the Brent Spence Bridge. This is a bridge that connects Ohio to Kentucky; the Midwest to the South. It carries 172,000 cars and $1 billion in commerce every day, yet it is considered functionally obsolete,” Chabot said. “Improving our infrastructure is about making American businesses more competitive and making sure we have access to the goods and services we use every day, and keeping them affordable for American families.”
Matt Davis, Director, Build Our New Bridge Now Coalition based in Cincinnati, also emphasized the importance of restoring subpar infrastructure, particularly the Brent Spence Bridge. “[The Brent Spence Bridge] serves as a major artery in our national highway system, carrying the equivalent of 4 percent of the nation’s GDP every year and connecting Michigan to Miami, servicing many companies, both small and large,” Davis said. “In order for their businesses to stay afloat, small businesses need reliable roads, bridges, waterways, airports and railways to move employees and goods from place to place as safely as possible.”
Also among those who testified was William Schmitz, Vice President of Sales and Quality Control at Gernatt Asphalt Company in Collins, NY, who spoke on behalf of the National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association. “In the absence of a long-term plan, my customers are telling me they are not sure what the next years are going to bring them, thereby causing me to withhold investment in plants and new machinery for the foreseeable future,” Schmitz said. “It is increasingly difficult to do long range workforce planning due to uncertain demand.”
Members also heard from Don Shilling, President of General Equipment and Supplies in Fargo, ND, who testified on behalf of the Associated Equipment Distributors. Shilling attested to the complications that are arising from uncertainty in infrastructure investment. “The detrimental impact of the uncertainty surrounding the Highway Trust Fund isn’t unique to General Equipment & Supplies,” Shilling said. “As Congress delays addressing the country’s drastic needs, the public is paying the price in lost productivity and vehicle repairs.”
Chairman Chabot and members of the Committee shared the witnesses’ concerns for America’s state of decay.
“If we want to do something positive for the millions of Americans that rely on small businesses to put food on the table, we have to get projects like the Brent Spence Bridge done,” Chabot said. “We owe it to the American people to invest in those projects that produce long-term savings, keep us competitive, and most importantly, create American jobs. “
For full witness testimonies and footage of today’s hearing, click here.
The president’s appointees at the NLRB have undermined employee free choice through an ambush election scheme, stifled employee freedom through micro-unions, and restricted employee access to secret ballot union elections. Now the board is setting its sights on the freedom and choice provided to employees under state right-to-work laws.
Chairman Kline’s remarks were delivered at a hearing that examined an NLRB effort to force nonunion employees in right-to-work states to pay union grievance fees. Just like every other Big Labor scheme, the board’s unprecedented attack on right to work will ultimately end up hurting workers the most. As the following press reports highlight, Wednesday’s hearing revealed a number of ways the board’s actions would harm the nation’s workers and workplaces:
- Inviting Union Coercion – “[The board’s effort], complained Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Committee, gives the unions, who control the grievance process, too much power over workers who opted out. ‘History has shown that union officials all too often initiate on-the-job discrimination, which forces a worker into the grievance process the union bosses control, in order to punish him or her for not joining the union in the first place,’ he said … The ‘fee-for-grievance’ scheme could allow for fees that exceed regular dues, warned Mix, who called the NLRB proposal a ‘deceptive assault’ on right-to-work laws.” - 'Deceptive assault': Obama NLRB seeks to gut right-to-work laws, say critics, Fox News
- Undermining State-Provided Protections – “Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts … said that by undermining the laws, the federal board was usurping states who have voted against mandatory union membership. ‘Requiring a nonmember to pay for the union's participation is unreasonable,’ Ricketts said. ‘And, it makes perfect sense that both the courts and the NLRB have up to now consistently barred organized labor from charging nonmembers in Right to Work states to get their grievances processed when union members can have their grievances processed for free.’” - 'Deceptive assault': Obama NLRB seeks to gut right-to-work laws, say critics, Fox News
- Reducing Competitiveness – “Republican Rep. Bradley Byrne [R-AL], one of the more vocal opponents of the NLRB during the hearing, used his time later on in the proceeding to question [witness] Bruno on his claims, noting the studies he’s seen and the personal experience he had with businesses while representing Alabama showed the opposite … ‘I talked to dozens and dozens and dozens of businesses who have considered my own state of Alabama, a right-to-work state. Every time they mention two things: They talk about the quality of the workforce; And second thing they say, labor law and the fact we’re a right-to-work state.’” - Congress Confronts Out Of Control Obama Labor Appointees, Daily Caller
- Violating Fundamental Rights – “‘We are very pleased that Congress recognized the seriousness of the NLRB’s threat to state right-to-work laws,’ National Right to Work Committee Vice President of Legislation Greg Mourad told FoxNews.com. ‘This proposed action by Obama’s Big Labor NLRB is a direct assault on a worker’s fundamental First Amendment right to freedom of association. Congress can and must take action to block this rogue NLRB, and advance worker freedom.’” - 'Deceptive assault': Obama NLRB seeks to gut right-to-work laws, say critics, Fox News
The Obama administration must decide whether it will continue to be at the beck and call of its Big Labor allies, or protect the rights of America's workers. As Chairman Kline argued during the hearing, “Every worker has a fundamental right to decide whether or not to join a union. Those who decide not to join a union shouldn’t be punished for that decision, especially when the punishment denies a worker the chance to provide for his or her family.”
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WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation will hold a full committee hearing titled, “Passenger Rail Safety: Accident Prevention and On-Going Efforts to Implement Train Control Technology” on Wednesday, June 10, 2015, at 10:00 a.m.
Following the tragic Amtrak derailment in Philadelphia on May 12, 2015, this hearing offers an opportunity to hear testimony from expert witnesses about ongoing efforts to prevent passenger rail accidents, particularly through the use of train control technology. Wit...
The hearing will examine the SBA's implementation of Section 1661 of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2013. The hearing will be web-streamed live HERE.
Chairman Richard Hanna ( R-NY)
Witnesses and Testimony:
- Testifying on behalf of the Small Business Value Added Reseller Consortium
- Testifying on behalf of the American Institute of Architects
Chabot Introduces Further Legislation to Boost Small Business Trade
WASHINGTON—Small Business Committee Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH) introduced a second bill this week to boost small business involvement in international trade. H.R. 2587, the State Trade Coordination Act, furthers the efforts of H.R. 2586, the Export Coordination Act, by opening avenues for various federal trade promotion agencies to coordinate instead of duplicate their efforts with state trade agencies.
At any given time, multiple federal agencies play a role in promoting international trade. The State Trade Coordination Act places consultation and cooperation with individual states at the top of these agencies’ priorities. The bill also requires strategic planning in coordinating resources and accountability measures that give small businesses and taxpayers a greater voice.
“If we want our small businesses to be competitive in global markets, we have to make the opportunities and resources available to them as clear and as efficient as possible,” Chabot said. “Coordinating trade efforts with local governments is one of the common sense ways we can identify what our small businesses need to get their goods across borders and oceans, making government more efficient in the process.”
House Panel Examines SBA’s Failure to Implement Congressional Direction on Size Standards
WASHINGTON – Today, the House Small Business Subcommittee on Contracting and Workforce convened a hearing on small business size standards and the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) failure to implement bipartisan Congressional reforms signed into law on January 2, 2013.
Subcommittee Chairman Richard Hanna (R-NY) issued the following statement at the conclusion of the hearing:
“Federal size standards determine whether a firm can compete for a federal contract or qualify for other federal programs, so it is critical that we get this right. And when the SBA fails to implement bipartisan reforms to those standards, they are not just failing to implement the law – they are failing the millions of Americans who work for small businesses.”
Fellow Small Business Committee Member Rep. Mike Bost’s (R-IL) proposed solution to this problem, H.R. 1429, the Stronger Voice for Small Business Act of 2015, was incorporated in this year’s National Defense Authorization Act, which passed the House in May. Witnesses from the Small Business Value Added Reseller Consortium, the American Institute of Architects, and others expressed support for H.R. 1429 during the hearing.
"In recent years, the president’s appointees at the NLRB have undermined employee free choice through an ambush election scheme, stifled employee freedom through micro-unions, and restricted employee access to secret ballot union elections,” Chairman Kline said. “Now the board is setting its sights on the freedom and choice provided to employees under state right-to-work laws.”
In 1947, Congress amended the National Labor Relations Act to allow states to prohibit compulsory union membership. Known as “right to work,” this state-based policy ensures union membership cannot be a condition of employment and employees cannot be required to pay union dues and fees. In April, the NLRB invited public comment on whether the board should reverse decades of precedent and adopt a new rule permitting unions to collect fees from nonmembers for grievance processing, undermining employee protections provided under state right-to-work laws."
“Every worker has a fundamental right to decide whether or not to join a union,” Chairman Kline continued. “Those who decide not to join a union shouldn’t be punished for that decision, especially when the punishment denies a worker the chance to provide for his or her family. That is why it is deeply troubling the Obama labor board is trying to undermine a policy embraced by workers and state leaders across the country.”
Gov. Pete Ricketts (R-NE), who leads one of 25 states with right-to-work laws, touted the economic benefits Nebraska enjoys as a right-to-work state. “Nebraska has the lowest unemployment rate in the country at 2.5 percent,” he explained. “We know our right-to-work status contributes to that because it sends the right message to employers and employees.”
However, as Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Committee, explained, “the NLRB’s new ‘fee-for-grievance’ scheme would give union officials a way to extract ‘fees’ from nonunion workers – fees that could in fact be greater than regular dues – leaving the right-to-work law on the books, but severely emasculated … Right to Work is fundamentally an issue of individual freedom. The NLRB’s plan to undercut right-to-work laws is an outrage to working men and women all across this country.”
Echoing Mix’s concerns, Gov. Ricketts said, “This is about the people I represent, who respect the right to organize and respect the right to decline … This proposal is a solution in search of a problem and would hurt individual rights, employers, and continued economic growth.”
Walter Hewitt, an employee of United Way of Southeast Connecticut, recounted the adverse conditions he faced as a worker in a forced unionization state. Hewitt affirmed the “NLRB should not be allowed to undermine employee free choice by allowing unions to squeeze money out of employees under the guise of ‘fees for grievance representation,’ where employees are forced to accept such representation whether they agree or not.”
“If we adopted Big Labor’s logic," Chairman Kline concluded, “workers would be stuck between a rock and a hard place; they would either have to pay the union fee or forfeit any opportunity to resolve grievances with their employers. That is not what Congress intended nearly 70 years ago and it is not what Congress intends today.”
To learn more about today’s hearing, or to watch an archived webcast, visit www.edworkforce.house.gov/hearings.
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Law Professor’s Attack on WLF’s “Legislative Grace Canon” Argument in “King v. Burwell” Brief Sails Wide of the Mark
The Road Ahead: Small Businesses and the Need for a Long-Term Surface Transportation Reauthorization
On Wednesday, June 3, 2015 at 11:00 A.M. the Committee on Small Business held a hearing titled, The Road Ahead: Small Businesses and the Need for a Long-Term Surface Transportation Reauthorization. The hearing will be held in Room 2360 of the Rayburn House Office Building. The hearing will be webstreamed live HERE.
The purpose of the hearing is examine small firm participation in the surface transportation construction industry.
- Opening Statement
Witnesses and Testimony:
- Testifying on behalf of the National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association
- Testifying on behalf of the National Equipment Distributors
Kline Statement: Hearing on Compulsory Unionization through Grievance Fees: The NLRB’s Assault on Right-to-Work
In 1947, Congress passed a number of amendments to the National Labor Relations Act. One of those amendments allowed states to prohibit compulsory union membership. This important policy, known as “right to work,” simply means union membership cannot be a condition of employment and employees cannot be required to pay union dues or fees. Today, twenty-five states have enacted right to work laws, with Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin recently joining the ranks.
Union leaders vigorously oppose right to work because it leads to less control over workers and fewer dollars flowing to union coffers. But this isn’t about what’s best for unions; it’s about what’s best for workers. Every worker has a fundamental right to decide whether or not to join a union. Those who decide not to join a union shouldn’t be punished for that decision, especially when the punishment denies a worker the chance to provide for his or her family. That is why it is deeply troubling the Obama labor board is trying to undermine a policy embraced by workers and state leaders across the country.
In April, the board requested public comment on whether it should adopt a new rule permitting unions to charge nonunion members grievance fees in right to work states. We have long heard complaints from labor leaders about so-called “free riders,” the idea that workers who opt out of union representation and associated fees still avail themselves of the provisions laid out in the collective bargaining agreement.
When it comes to the grievance process, this argument is deeply flawed for a simple reason: workers have no choice. The grievance process is outlined in the collective bargaining agreement and, even nonunion members are bound by its requirements. There is no other recourse for nonunion members to resolve grievances aside from the process stipulated in the labor contract.
If we adopted Big Labor’s logic, workers would be stuck between a rock and a hard place; they would either have to pay the union fee or forfeit any opportunity to resolve grievances with their employers. That is not what Congress intended nearly 70 years ago and it is not what Congress intends today. Despite the complaints of labor leaders, current policies governing grievance fees have been board precedent for decades and have even been upheld in federal court. These policies shouldn’t be discarded by an unelected and unaccountable board of bureaucrats.
For those who would argue we are getting ahead of ourselves, I would simply note that we have been down this road before. The board has a track record of seizing routine cases as a means to impose sweeping changes on our nation’s workplaces. We have no reason to believe this case will be any different, and America’s workers are once again expected to pay the price.
Right to work is an important tool for state leaders trying to attract new businesses and good-paying jobs. Employers at home and abroad are increasingly drawn to right to work states. No doubt Governor Ricketts will explain for us why that continues to be true. Working families win when companies like Volvo, BMW, and Volkswagen build factories here in the United States. With millions of Americans searching for full-time work, why would we discourage that kind of investment in our nation’s workers.
Just as importantly, why would we accept a policy that undermines the right of workers to decide whether or not they want to join a union? The board needs to pull back and leave employees in right to work states alone.
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