Senators Introduce Bill to Allow Employers to Give Unionized Employees Raises for Performance

Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) recently introduced legislation that would allow employers to provide financial incentives to individual employees based on their job performance, rather than based on seniority in a collective bargaining unit. Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) is also cosponsoring the legislation.

If passed, the “Rewarding Achievement and Incentivizing Successful Employees (RAISE) Act” would amend the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), which currently covers collective bargaining agreements for nearly 7 million workers. These agreements prevent employers for rewarding high job performance, instead creating “seniority ceilings” that force employers to provide raises to employees based upon their seniority.

Senator Alexander remarked, “This bill will give employers the freedom to pay their employees more for a job well done, for their dedication and hard work, rather than for their time spent in a union.”

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Immigration Issues Remain High Concern in House of Representatives

This month the House Judiciary Committee approved the “Legal Workforce Act”, a bill introduced by Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX) intended to protect jobs for legal workers by requiring employers to confirm the eligibility of employees through the E-Verify system. The entire House of Representatives will now consider the bill. E-Verify cross-references an employee’s social security number against Social Security Administration and Department of Homeland Security records to confirm employees’ work eligibility, providing results in less than two minutes that are 99.7% accurate.

If signed into law, the bill would require employers to gradually phase-in the use of E-Verify for new hires, permits voluntary use by employers of E-Verify for current employees, raises penalties on employers who knowingly hire ineligible workers and employees who knowingly provide false information, and provides safe harbor from prosecution for employers if they use E-Verify in good faith but receive incorrect information regarding worker eligibility, among other provisions.

In addition, on February 25, the U.S. House of Representatives’ Judiciary Committee held a hearing on “The Unconstitutionality of President Obama’s Executive Actions on Immigration.” The hearing was in response to the President’s announcement of several executive actions in November 2014, including expanding the population of children eligible to remain in the United States and to receive work authorization and allowing parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents to request employment authorization for three years, among others.

The President’s actions are expected to impact more than 4 million undocumented individuals. Republicans in the House argue that the President does not have the authority for such unilateral action, and twenty-six states have also filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of this order. A federal judge has issued a temporary block on the President’s order.

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Senate Votes to Block New NLRB “Ambush Election” Rule

The Senate and House of Representatives passed a resolution this month to nullify the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) new election rules, often referred to as the “ambush election rule”. The new rules shorten the length of time for a labor union certification election from a median 38 days to as little as 11 days. It also requires employers to provide employees’ personal contact information and work schedules to union organizers without the employees’ consent, and only gives employers 7 days to find legal counsel and prepare for a pre-election briefing before an NLRB regional officer. The rule is scheduled to go into effect April 14, 2015.

The congressional resolution would block the new election rule from taking effect and require any future similar actions by the NLRB to be approved by Congress before taking effect. However, the resolution is largely seen as a symbolic act since President Obama is all but certain to veto the resolution and Congress does not have the votes necessary to override his veto.

In addition, a coalition of businesses filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to prevent the NLRB from implementing its election rule.

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U.S. Chemicals Reform Legislation Introduced in Senate New TSCA bill may pass in 2015

Earlier this month, Senators David Vitter (R-LA) and Tom Udall (D-NM), along with 14 bipartisan co-sponsors, introduced the “Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act”. The bill would overhaul current chemicals laws under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), which was last updated in 1976. While reform legislation has been introduced in the past, this is the first time that many believe there will be a likely chance of passage.

There is wide agreement from industry, government and environmentalists that the current regulatory framework is outdated and needs reform. NASF and its members are keenly interested in the legislation. A number of chemicals and metals used in the industry, such as nickel, chromium and others, could be getting increased attention in the regulatory spotlight. The new bill (S. 697) seeks, among other things, to:

  • Strengthen safety standards: Mandate that EPA base chemical safety decisions solely on considerations of risk to public health and the environment (without consideration of costs and benefits).
  • Mandate safety reviews for new and existing chemicals: Require all chemicals in commerce, even those grandfathered under TSCA, to undergo safety reviews and requiring a safety finding for new chemicals before they can enter the market.
  • Strengthen protections for the most vulnerable: Place greater emphasis on and requiring protection of those who may be more exposed or particularly vulnerable to the effects of exposure to chemicals and defining those populations as infants, children, pregnant women, workers and the elderly.
  • Establish Deadlines: Imposing at least 15 deadlines for EPA action with input from the EPA.
  • Address Confidential Business Information claims: Require that confidentiality claims be substantiated up front and imposing a 10-year, renewable time limit on those claims and requiring EPA to review claims protecting the identities of chemicals in commerce.
  • Balance state and federal regulations: Grandfather in state regulation on chemicals enacted prior to January 1, 2015, allow states to restrict a chemical until and unless EPA considers the same chemical and uses, and applying a uniform federal standard once EPA acts on a chemical standard.

A hearing on the proposed legislation was held last week, and alternative legislation to S. 697 has just been introduced by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Senator Ed Markey (D-MA). There will be more debate in the weeks and months to come. NASF is active on the new legislation, and will be meeting with lawmakers on the measure during the Washington Forum.

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EPA Proposes Significant New Use Restrictions for Perfluorinated Chemical Compounds

Click Here to Download the Proposed Rule

Pursuant to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) EPA proposed a significant new use rule (SNUR) for long-chain perfluoroalkyl carboxylate (LCPFAC) chemical substances. 80 Fed. Reg. 2885 (January 21, 2015). A copy of the rule is attached for your convenience. Specifically, EPA would impose new use (including manufacturing, importing and processing) notification requirements for the LCPFAC chemical substances listed in Table 1 below for any use that will not be ongoing after December 31, 2015.

Table 1: LCPFAC Chemical Substances Subject to Reporting After December 31, 2015

CASRN
Accession CASRN
Chemical Name
507–63–1 None Octane, 1,1,1,2,2,3,3,4,4,5,5,6,6,7,7,8,8-heptadecafluoro-8-iodo-
678–39–7 None 1-Decanol, 3,3,4,4,5,5,6,6,7,7,8,8,9,9,10,10,10-heptadecafluoro-
865–86–1 None 1-Dodecanol, 3,3,4,4,5,5,6,6,7,7,8,8,9,9,10,10,11,11,12,12,12-heneicosafluoro-
2043–53–0 None Decane, 1,1,1,2,2,3,3,4,4,5,5,6,6,7,7,8,8-heptadecafluoro-10-iodo-
2043–54–1 None Dodecane, 1,1,1,2,2,3,3,4,4,5,5,6,6,7,7,8,8,9,9,10,10-heneicosafluoro-12-iodo-
17741–60–5 None 2-Propenoic acid, 3,3,4,4,5,5,6,6,7,7,8,8,9,9,10,10,11,11, 12,12,12-heneicosafluorododecyl ester
27905–45–9 None 2-Propenoic acid, 3,3,4,4,5,5,6,6,7,7,8,8,9,9,10,10,10-heptadecafluorodecyl ester
30046–31–2 None Tetradecane, 1,1,1,2,2,3,3,4,4,5,5,6,6,7,7,8,8,9,9,10,10,11,11,12,12-pentacosafluoro-14-iodo-
39239–77–5 None 1-Tetradecanol, 3,3,4,4,5,5,6,6,7,7,8,8,9,9,10,10,11,11,12,12,13,13,14,14,14-pentacosafluoro-
60699–51–6 None 1-Hexadecanol, 3,3,4,4,5,5,6,6,7,7,8,8,9,9,10,10,11,11,12,12,13,13,14,14,15,15,16,16,16-
nonacosafluoro-
65510–55–6 None Hexadecane, 1,1,1,2,2,3,3,4,4,5,5,6,6,7,7,8,8,9,9,10,10,11,11,12,12,13,13,14,14-nonacosafluoro-16-iodo-
68187–47–3 None 1-Propanesulfonic acid, 2-methyl-, 2-[[1-oxo-3-[(.gamma.-.omega.-perfluoro- C4-16-alkyl)thio]propyl]amino] derivs., sodium salts
68391–08–2 None Alcohols, C8-14, .gamma.-.omega.-perfluoro
70969–47–0 None Thiols, C8-20, .gamma.-.omega.-perfluoro, telomers with acrylamide
125476–71-3 None Silicic acid (H4SiO4), sodium salt (1:2), reaction products with chlorotrimethylsilane and 3,3,4,4,5,5,6,6,7,7,8,8,9,9,10,10,10-heptadecafluoro-1-decanol
1078712–88–5 None Thiols, C4-20, .gamma.-.omega.-perfluoro, telomers with acrylamide and acrylic acid, sodium salts
1078715–61–3 None 1-Propanaminium, 3-amino-N-(carboxymethyl)-N,N-dimethyl-, N-[2-[(.gamma.-.omega.-perfluoro-C4-20-a lkyl)thio]acetyl] derivs., inner salts
CBI 71217 Polyfluoroalkyl betaine
CBI 89419 Modified fluoroalkyl urethane
CBI 274147 Perfluorinated polyamine

This action is consistent with EPA’s “Long-Chain Perfluorinated Chemicals Action Plan published on December 30, 2009 and the PFOA Stewardship Program launched in January 2006. The PFOA Stewardship Program is a voluntary partnership between EPA and eight global manufacturers of these chemicals: DuPont, Solvay Solexis, Asahi Glass Company, Daikin America, Inc., Clariant International Ltd., 3M/Dyneon, Arkema Inc., and BASF (formerly Ciba Specialty Chemical Corporation). These companies all agreed to phase out the use of these chemical by December 31, 2015. Any subsequent manufacture, import, or processing of these chemical after that date would be subject to the proposed new use notification requirements under TSCA.

In addition, EPA also proposed SNUR restrictions on LCPFAC chemical substances listed in Table 2 below that were identified as having no current ongoing uses.

Table 2: PFOA and Examples of Its Salts

CASRN Chemical Name
335–66–0 Octanoyl fluoride, pentadecafluoro-
335–67–1 Octanoic acid, pentadecafluoro- (PFOA)
335–93–3 Octanoic acid, pentadecafluoro-, silver salt
335–95–5 Octanoic acid, pentadecafluoro-, sodium salt
2395–00–8 Octanoic acid, pentadecafluoro-, potassium salt
3825–26–1 Octanoic acid, pentadecafluoro-, ammonium salt (APFO)

Finally, EPA has also proposed to void the SNUR exemption for persons who import LCPFAC chemical substances as part of articles and for persons who import perfluoroalkyl sulfonates (PFAS) chemical substances as part of carpets.

These proposed measures are intended to phase out the use of LCPFAC chemical substances in the U.S. and to keep them from re-entering the U.S. marketplace without substantial safeguards in place. The proposed action is also consistent EPA’s ban on the use of perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) based fume suppressants by September 2015 as part of the chromium electroplating NESHAP rule.

EPA has requested comments on

  1. Whether any of the current uses of the LCPFAC chemical substances listed in Table 1 will be ongoing after December 31, 2015,
  2. Whether there are any ongoing uses of those LCPFAC chemical substances listed in table 2, and
  3. Whether there are any ongoing uses, including use as part of articles, of any of the LCPFAC chemical substances.

Comments must be submitted to EPA by March 23, 2015. Please send any comments or information that you have on the use of these chemicals to Jeff Hannapel at jhannapel@thepolicygroup.com.

Click Here to Download the Proposed Rule

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