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Don’t Put Construction Industry Growth in Jeopardy This November

Economic

By Peter Comstock, Construction Executive

Reposted with permission from constructionexec.com, September 27, 2018, all rights reserved. Copyright 2018.

During the past two years, the United States has seen real economic growth within the construction industry—tied, at least in part, to regulatory policies that have helped businesses grow and create jobs for hardworking Americans.

In one of his first official actions, on Jan. 30, 2017, President Trump signed Executive Order 13771 on “Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs,” which cut the amount of regulations created by federal agencies and implemented a “one in, two out” policy to reduce unnecessary and burdensome rules—resulting in the rollback of more than 860 regulations.

Recently, the U.S. Department of Labor issued a final rule to rescind the 2016 persuader rule that would have effectively limited the ability of small construction businesses to obtain labor relations advice from attorneys and trade associations such as Associated Builders and Contractors, depriving employees of their right to obtain balanced information about union representation.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, passed by Congress and signed into law by the president, also has assisted the construction industry, particularly the reduction in the corporate tax rate and the 20 percent tax deduction for pass-through businesses that has resulted in many small construction companies having a much lower effective tax rate. Construction companies also can immediately write off the cost of new equipment, which has further encouraged growth.

This critical shift in the right direction has provided many construction executives with much-needed certainty, allowing them to grow their firms, pay better wages and support their communities.

According to an analysis of data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. construction industry has added 282,000 net new jobs during the past year, a 4.1 percent increase from last year.

To continue this growth and keep pace with the expanding economy, it is critical to maintain a common-sense approach to the policies and regulations affecting the construction industry.

Democrats positioning to take control of the U.S. House of Representatives this November increase the risk of stalling this common-sense progress.
Democrats currently serving in Congress already have revealed their anti-growth agenda by introducing the deceptively titled Workplace Democracy Act (H.R. 5728), which contains provisions that would impact employers and employees by limiting their rights in the workplace.

Among the most harmful provisions of this bill are:

  • the elimination of the right to a secret ballot in union representation elections;
  • the elimination of Right to Work protections for workers; and
  • the unreasonable expansion of joint employer liability under the National Labor Relations Act, which would impose onerous burdens on the contractor-subcontractor relationship, resulting in a chill throughout the construction industry.

The Workplace Democracy Act, just one of Democrats’ many policy initiatives, is supported by numerous potential Democratic presidential contenders for 2020, including Sens. Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris and Cory Booker, and has the full weight of support from Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.), the ranking member of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, and 57 other Democrats.

With only net gains of two seats in the Senate and 23 in the House, Democrats could take control of Congress next year. Twenty-five House seats are in districts where Hillary Clinton won the presidential vote in 2016, and national publications have rated more than 50 of these House races as competitive, with several leaning toward the Democrats in November. While the Senate map currently favors Republicans maintaining their majority in the fall, their lead is likely to remain slim.

The construction industry seems to have benefitted from the reduction in government interference that has prevailed during the past two years. A Democratic majority in the House or Senate would undoubtedly be under immense pressure to stifle this progress in its efforts to oppose President Trump’s agenda.

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