The NERCA Board of Directors met to review the Association’s past year and begin planning for the future. In attendance at the meeting were President Louis Silver, 1st Vice President Bradley Sontz, 2nd Vice President Steve Harvey, Immediate Past President Chris Sears, Treasurer Brian Hurley, and NERCA Staff Members Thomas J. Gunning and Patsy Sweeney.
The various Committees met and dissected the 2017 Convention and other NERCA events. By taking a critical eye to the 2107 Convention, the Membership Committee hopes to build upon its success and ensure that the 2018 Convention is even better attended and valuable to our members.
The Safety and Education Committee looked at the NERCA training schedule to try and identify additional ways that the Association can add value to our members and increase interactions between them.
In addition, the Committee reviewed the recruitment of new membership and retention of current membership. We hope to continually grow our membership and hope to use past trends and data to identify which recruitment strategies are most successful. We look forward to another productive and successful year thanks to the dedication of our leadership and all those who contribute their time and effort to make the most of our Association.
Given the increasing focus on safety, you would expect OSHA had a busy year. However, continuing an ongoing trend, OSHA inspections dropped to the lowest level in 20 years. This marks the 4th consecutive year that inspections have fallen.
In the Northeast, inspections of construction contractors have fallen by more than 30% over the last 5 years from about 6,800 to about 4,700 total.
The graph above illustrates the Northeast average compared to the average with its three biggest states. These declines in the Northeast make up about a third of the overall decrease in construction inspections nationwide.
The OSHA budget peaked in 2012, but was down by about 3% in 2016. OSHA has cited budget cuts as causing the decrease in inspections. However they have found citations 5% more often than in 2015. In addition, appeals of OSHA citations were roughly equivalent in 2015 and 2016 at around 9%. NERCA recommends our members always seek a legal safety consultant before settling a case with OSHA.
Donald Trump has selected Andy Puzder to serve as his Secretary of Labor. The CEO of CKE Restaurants, Inc. which owns Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s is an interesting selection by Trump who had toyed with appointing Victoria Lipnic, the current head of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and a former Workforce Policy Counsel to the House.
Puzder is an interesting man, he attended Kent State, but dropped out in 1970 following the Kent State Shootings. In his own words, “I spent the next three years attending concerts and marching on Washington”. After moving to Cleveland he graduated college and got his law degree. As a young corporate lawyer he helped rescue Carl Karcher, founder of Carl’s Jr. from financial troubles. Years later, when CKE Restaurants fell into more financial difficulties after purchasing Hardee’s, Puzder was named CEO by the Board and tasked with turning it around.
Mr. Puzder has not been without controversy during his tenure. Franchisees overseen by CKE have been targeted by DOL in the past. Hardee’s Food Systems was found in violation of wage laws and ordered to give back pay to a group of 456 workers in 2006 and 2007. This money was owed for overtime on hourly employees. It is perhaps unsurprising then that Puzder has signaled that he opposes the Obama Overtime Rule which has already been blocked by the courts, and is most likely dead on arrival in a Trump Administration.
In addition, advocates calling for an increase in the Federal Minimum Wage will find Puzder opposes large raises of the minimum wage. $15 per hour will be out of the question because Pudzer opposed the Obama Administration attempt to raise it to $10.10 from the current $7.25. When asked about the effect of raising the minimum wage, Mr. Puzder said it could lead to increased automation because machines are, “always polite, they always upsell, they never take a vacation, they never show up late, there’s never a slip-and-fall or an age, sex or race discrimination case.”
The effect of a business executive running the labor department will be interesting to watch. Like Mr. Puzder, the Secretary of Labor has traditionally been a loyal supporter of the president, but unlike Mr. Puzder, most former Secretaries of Labor were career bureaucrats not as well versed in the corporate and financial worlds.
Proper licensure is part of what separates us from a public perception of distrust. Therefore, we have to ensure our licenses are up to date. Massachusetts and Rhode Island are cracking down on unlicensed contractors and soon, many licenses will be expiring. Continue reading “Licensure Continuing Ed Requirements”
From August 17th to September 5th, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is promoting safe and sober driving. Initiatives like this have been hugely successful. Since 1973, drunk driving has declined by 80%! However, over the last 10 years there has been a spike in drug impairment of night weekend drivers. In that time, positive drug tests increased from 16.3% of drivers to 20%. Continue reading “August is Safe Driving Awareness Month”
According to an analysis by the International Renewables Energy Agency (IRENA), the United States increased green energy jobs by 6% in 2015 to reach 769,000 jobs. While this is a good trend in the US, it represents a small fraction of global renewable energy employment which is at 8.1 million jobs. Continue reading “Energy Report with Bright News for Solar Industry”