House Education & Workforce Committee

Kline, Alexander Respond to Administration’s College Ratings Proposal

House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions Ranking Member Lamar Alexander (R-TN) issued the following statements after the Department of Education released the framework for an unprecedented college ratings system:  

“The same administration that created the HealthCare.gov debacle, now wants to arbitrarily grade and rank our nation’s diverse system of colleges and universities,” said Chairman Kline. “After working for more than a year on this unprecedented scheme, the department clearly hasn’t begun to figure it out. We should be looking for opportunities to empower students and families with information that allows them to make informed decisions. This should be done through commonsense reforms of the law, and there is already strong bipartisan support for such an effort. This so-called college ratings system is a fool’s errand and the secretary needs to stop it immediately.” 

Alexander said: “Trying to create yet another complicated, federal system—this time for grading our country's 6,000 colleges and universities—is every bit as impossible and unnecessary as it sounds and is sure to fall flat on its face. Making sure students have access to the information they need to pick the right school is important and something we will discuss during the next reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, but I can’t support letting Washington bureaucrats use taxpayer dollars to fund a higher education popularity contest.”

# # #

ICYMI: Pension Reform Benefits Businesses, Workers and Retirees

Education & the Workforce Committee - 15 hours 54 min ago

There are nearly 11 million workers and retirees across America, including more than 165,000 Minnesotans, who rely on the little known but economically vital multiemployer pension system. Nationwide, this system has an economic impact of approximately $38 billion — with more than $375 million in benefits being paid to Minnesota retirees each year.

Today, many multiemployer pension plans find themselves in jeopardy, including some right here in our state.

Make no mistake: Some of these pension plans are on the brink of insolvency. While most plans are well-funded, including those here in Minnesota, some of the nation’s largest plans are in trouble. If they fail, the fallout will overwhelm the federal backstop, which recently announced that it is facing a $42 billion funding deficit.

If no action is taken, the plans themselves — as well as the government safety net — likely will disappear. That would mean deep, automatic cuts to pensioners and the real risk of businesses needing to close their doors forever.

U.S. Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., chairman of the congressional committee that oversees pensions, has called this issue a “ticking time bomb” that jeopardizes a long-standing promise to so many retirees. Just last week, Kline, along with the committee’s ranking member, Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., crafted a bipartisan proposal to address this issue.

The proposal has support from both labor and business groups; both the House of Representatives and the Senate recently passed the pension reform legislation. Thankfully, our leaders have acted to address an issue before it became an unmanageable crisis.

As heads of a company with headquarters in Minnesota and of an international labor union, we don’t always see eye to eye on issues, but on this critical matter, we do.                                                                      

These plans give employees the ability to accrue benefits in industries where frequent job changes are common — such as retail, construction, entertainment or, in our case, the food services industry. Companies contribute to these pension funds on behalf of their employees. These pension plans have existed for decades and, historically, they have been stable pension vehicles for countless families. Today, millions depend on their hard-earned retirement benefits, and employers depend on them to stay competitive and to stay in business.

Like other multiemployer participants, we have taken many steps on our own to ensure that our business, employees and retirees can continue to rely on their plans for both business stability and retirement security. With this action, Congress is providing the critical tools so the plans themselves can take the steps needed to survive in the long term. Congress’s bipartisan action provides the opportunity to keep the majority of multiemployer plans healthier longer — and helps prevent the devastating, automatic cuts that would have come if nothing had been done.

We applaud the efforts on this critical issue. 

# # #

Committee Leaders Respond To NLRB Ambush Election Rule

Education & the Workforce Committee - Fri, 12/12/2014 - 12:00am
 House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee Chair Phil Roe (R-TN) issued the following joint statement after the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) implemented a new rule speeding up the union election process: 

After more than three years of public outcry, the Obama board is still determined to impose an ambush election scheme on our nation’s workplaces. This administrative overreach will stifle employers’ free speech, cripple workers’ free choice, and jeopardize the privacy of workers and their families. It will completely upend an election process that has worked well for decades, one that is fair and designed to foster agreement.

The American people want policies that will set us on the path to a stronger economy, more jobs, and higher wages for working families. This misguided ambush election rule will pull our country in the opposite direction. Congress cannot stand by and let that happen. The committee has been leading the fight against the president’s radical labor board, and rest assured, we will continue to do so.

# # #

House Passes Bipartisan Multiemployer Pension Reform

Education & the Workforce Committee - Thu, 12/11/2014 - 12:00am

After a bipartisan agreement to reform the multiemployer pension plan system and protect millions of workers from financial catastrophe was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives today, Committee on Education and the Workforce Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Senior Democratic Member George Miller (D-CA) issued the following joint statement:

Tonight a bipartisan Congress put workers and businesses one step closer toward having the tools they need to come together and save pension plans that are facing imminent bankruptcy. Our bipartisan agreement should become the law of the land to help prevent the collapse of failing plans and better protect workers’ retirement security. It’s time to trust our nation’s workers, employers, and union leaders to do the right thing by enacting this important bipartisan agreement.

Learn more about the multiemployer pension plan reform here

Read letters of support from labor and business leaders here

Full text of the legislation can be found here.

# # #

What They're Saying: Business and Union Leaders Support Bipartisan Agreement to Reform Multiemployer Pensions

Education & the Workforce Committee - Thu, 12/11/2014 - 12:00am

Letters of support are pouring in for the bipartisan agreement to reform multiemployer pensions. Released by House Education and the Workforce Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Ranking Member George Miller (D-CA), the proposal includes reforms to provide trustees with new tools to save troubled plans, while protecting taxpayers. See what business and union leaders are saying in support of this bipartisan agreement:

"The bi-partisan proposal developed by the Education and Workforce Committee will modify the expiring Pension Protection Act (PPA) and give plan trustees the tools they need to strengthen their plans. This proposal helps troubled plans avoid insolvency, puts the plans recovering from the economic downturn on firmer ground, and helps those plans – and retirees – that are most in trouble avoid losing everything." – North America’s Building Trades Unions

"I urge you to support the Multiemployer Pension Reform Act of 2014 as it follows the “Solutions Not Bailouts” proposal that was a private sector, joint labor-management proposal to solve the multiemployer pension system failures and avoid a federal bailout. The legislation will provide modifications to the PPA that will strengthen plans’ funding positions and ensure long-term retirement security." – Associated General Contractors of America

"The Kline-Miller legislation protects pensions, retirees, and taxpayers. It is the only reform that accomplishes all of these important objectives." – The Association of Food and Dairy Retailers, Wholesalers and Manufacturers, Aramark, Bimbo Bakeries, ConAgra Foods, Dairy Farmers of America, Dean Foods, Kellog’s, Kroger

'Workers and their employers have used and exhausted all the tools at their disposal to strengthen their plans on their own. Some have even increased worker and employer contributions and accepted reduced benefits to preserve these pensions … We are simply asking Congress to give multiemployer pension plans the tools they need to modernize, continue to provide benefits, and in some cases, avoid insolvency." – United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America

"This bipartisan agreement follows three years of hard work, hearings, events and negotiations between employers and unions, and members of Congress. It is absolutely essential legislation to allow the private sector to resolve the multiemployer pension crisis without government involvement." – The Kroger Co. 

"While imperfect, SEIU supports this legislation because it will help preserve and protect the multiemployer defined benefit pension system for our members and all of the system’s participants for years to come. Failure to pass this legislation now will jeopardize the future of this system, and will increase the eventual cost for our members, our employers, and potentially for taxpayers." – Service Employees International Union 

"If Congress enacts the bipartisan Kline-Miller legislation, it will allow critically underfunded multiemployer pension plans to engage in self-help to save themselves from insolvency, at no cost to taxpayers. It will protect plan participants from larger benefit cuts in the future; avert large contribution increases that will result in employer bankruptcies; prevent the loss of thousands of jobs; and greatly minimize inevitable calls for a PBGC bailout." – ArcBest Corporation

"Our seniors are looking to Congress for common sense, bipartisan pension reform that protects as many multiemployer plans as possible. The Kline-Miller compromise, while not perfect, achieves that goal. The UFCW strongly urges you to include these reforms in the year-end spending bill without further delay." – United Food and Commercial Workers International Union

"It is absolutely critical that we move forward with legislation to address the challenges facing these plans so that we can continue to provide the hardworking men and women who make America strong with benefits that allow them to retire with dignity." – United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry of the United States and Canada

"Pension trustees have run out of options. They have used and exhausted the policy tools at their disposal. Many have increased worker and employer contributions. A large number have reduced pension accrual rates, in addition to other painful policy steps. The International Union of Operating Engineers strongly believes that Congress must take these essential steps to strengthen the multiemployer pension system." -  International  Union of Operating Engineers

"The bipartisan proposal developed by the Education and the Workforce Committee will modify the expiring Pension Protection Act (PPA) and give plan trustees the tools they need to strengthen their plans." – International Union of Painters and Allied Trades

"The National Coordinating Committee for Multiemployer Plans (NCCMP) strongly supports the bipartisan agreement between Chairman John Kline and Ranking Member George Miller of the House Education and Workforce Committee to reform the multiemployer pension system and implement key provisions of the Solutions Not Bailouts proposal." – National Coordinating Committee for Multiemployer Plans.

# # #

Kline Welcomes New and Returning Committee Members

Education & the Workforce Committee - Wed, 12/10/2014 - 12:00am
U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce Chairman John Kline (R-MN) today announced Republican members who will serve on the committee in the 114th Congress.
 

"I am delighted to have the privilege of serving on the Education and the Workforce Committee with such a dedicated and principled group of men and women,” said Chairman Kline. “The American people expect Congress to advance commonsense reforms that will help strengthen our nation’s classrooms and workplaces. The new and returning Republican members of the committee will all play pivotal roles in that effort, and I look forward to working with them next Congress.”

# # #

Republican Committee Members for the 114th Congress:

• Rep. John Kline (MN-2)*
• Rep. Joe Wilson
(SC-2)*
• Rep. Virginia Foxx
(NC-5)*
• Rep. Duncan Hunter
(CA-50)*
• Rep. Phil Roe
(TN-1)*
• Rep. Glenn “GT” Thompson
(PA-5)*
• Rep. Tim Walberg
(MI-7)*
• Rep. Matt Salmon
(AZ-5)*
• Rep. Brett Guthrie
(KY-2)*
• Rep. Todd Rokita
(IN-4)*
• Rep. Lou Barletta
(PA-11)*
• Rep. Joe Heck
(NV-3)*
• Rep. Luke Messer
(IN-6)*
• Rep. Bradley Byrne
(AL-1)*
• Rep. Dave Brat
(VA-7)
Rep. – elect Buddy Carter (GA-1)
Rep. – elect Mike Bishop (MI-8)
Rep. – elect Glenn Grothman (WI-6)
Rep. – elect Steve Russell (OK-5)
Rep. – elect Carlos Curbelo (FL-26)
Rep. – elect Elise Stefanik (NY-21)
Rep. – elect Rick Allen (GA-12)

NOTE: Additional membership and organizational changes may be announced at a later time.

* Indicates prior service on the committee.

# # #

ObamaCare 2.0: Same Old Headaches for Nation's Classrooms

Education & the Workforce Committee - Mon, 11/24/2014 - 12:00am
The second year of the ObamaCare open enrollment season has begun and Americans are more displeased than ever with the president’s health care law. Schools, in particular, continue to feel the law’s negative effects, from increased costs to diminished services. In Louisiana, administrators are being forced to cut staff hours to keep their schools afloat and their students in the classroom:

Worries about running afoul of the Affordable Care Act — also known as “Obamacare” — have forced officials in Ascension Parish to turn the hunt for substitute teachers to a staffing agency to track hours and avoid federal penalties ... "This is really, really a major concern,” said Scott Richard, executive director of the Louisiana School Boards Association.

The uproar in education circles, as well as other industries nationwide, stems from a part of the law that requires employers to offer health insurance coverage to part-time workers who are employed 30 hours or more per week, or face federal fines of up to $2,000 per person. Superintendents said such coverage is a huge expense for school districts still reeling from five years of a near freeze in state aid for public schools. “Given the cost of benefits, that would be an unbelievable drain on school systems,” [superintendent, Ascension Parish school system] Pujol said.
– The Advocate, ObamaCare Forces Louisiana Public Schools to Scramble for Substitute Teachers

In New Jersey, school districts are even being forced to outsource their substitute teaching:

A school district in New Jersey is planning to outsource substitute teachers in an effort to counter rising costs of the Affordable Care Act. Roanoke City Public Schools in January will start using the New Jersey-based company Source4Teachers to supply it with substitute teachers, substitute aides and substitute clerical workers … Officials said they began research into the outsourcing option due to the Obamacare mandate that, as of Jan. 1, employees working an average of 30 hours or more a week must be offered health insurance. – Newsmax, Obamacare Costs Push NJ School System to Outsource Sub Teachers

As has been said time and again, the nation’s students and teachers deserve better. That’s why the House passed with bipartisan support the Save American Workers Act (H.R. 2575), legislation to restore the 40-hour work week. Another proposal would simply exempt schools from the employer mandate, providing relief from one of the law’s most onerous mandates.

As the committee continues to fight for commonsense health care solutions and investigate the challenges facing schools as a result of the president’s fatally-flawed law, please share #YourStory by visiting www.edworkforce.house.gov/YourStory or e-mailing us at TellYourStory@mail.house.gov.

# # #

Kline Statement on President’s Immigration Announcement

Education & the Workforce Committee - Thu, 11/20/2014 - 12:00am

House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) issued the following statement after President Obama announced his plans to unilaterally change federal immigration laws:

The president's brazen disregard for the rule of law and the constitutional limits of his office continues to divide our nation. To quote the president, this is not how our democracy functions. He has once again put his own political interests before the best interests of the country. The American people made it clear that they want us to end the gridlock and work together. However, this decision will make it even harder to address the challenges facing our classrooms and workplaces. Unless the president changes course, we will lose an opportunity to advance reforms that would make a difference in the lives of students and working families. The president is determined to let that opportunity slip away.

# # #

Kline Selected to Serve as Education & Workforce Committee Chairman in 114th Congress

Education & the Workforce Committee - Wed, 11/19/2014 - 12:00am
Rep. John Kline (R-MN) issued the following statement after being selected by his colleagues to serve as chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee in the 114th Congress:
 

I am humbled by the opportunity to continue leading this great committee. Significant challenges face our classrooms and workplaces, challenges that have persisted for far too long. Fixing a broken K-12 education system, promoting certainty and flexibility in our nation’s workplaces, and strengthening higher education are all national priorities that will remain at the forefront of the committee’s agenda. The American people want us to end the gridlock and get to work. If the president is willing to engage and the Senate is willing to act, we can advance reforms that will make a difference in the lives of students and working families. I am eager to help lead that effort and look forward to the work that lies ahead.

# # #

Kline, Miller Praise Senate Passage of Bill to Update Child Care Program

Education & the Workforce Committee - Mon, 11/17/2014 - 12:00am
House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-Minn.) and Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), senior Democrat on the committee, praised the Senate’s passage of a bill to improve and reauthorize the Child Care and Development Block Grant today.
 

House and Senate leaders negotiated the bipartisan agreement in September, and the House approved the legislation shortly thereafter. The bill will now head to President Obama’s desk to be signed into law.

“Today we move one step closer to strengthening child care support for millions of families,” said Kline. “The Child Care and Development Block Grant has helped make it possible for countless moms and dads to provide for their families. This bipartisan legislation includes commonsense reforms that will strengthen health and safety protections and improve quality of care. I want to thank my Republican and Democrat colleagues in the House and Senate for their work on this important issue, and urge the president to sign the bill without delay.”

“This is a victory for America’s children and the millions of American families who rely on the Child Care and Development Block Grant,” said Miller. “CCDBG is an indispensable program that benefits both kids and their working parents, but it has long been in need of critical new commitments to improve quality and safety. With approval of this bipartisan bill by the House and now the Senate, we have taken a major step down the path toward increasing access to safe, high-quality child care. That means that more children nationwide will be in environments that foster their healthy growth and development, which will, in turn, grant parents peace of mind while they work to support their families. This legislation will make our nation’s future brighter by helping children succeed and strengthening working families."

Kline Statement on Latest Pension Report

Education & the Workforce Committee - Mon, 11/17/2014 - 12:00am
House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) issued the following statement after the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) released its FY 2014 Annual Report, which shows the deficit in the agency's multiemployer insurance program has increased from $8.3 billion to $42.4 billion:
 

The multiemployer pension system is a ticking time bomb that will inflict a lot of pain on workers, employers, taxpayers, and retirees if Congress fails to act. Today’s report is a sober reminder that time is running out and should serve as a wakeup call for those few naysayers who believe this is too hard to get done. For months we have tried to reach consensus on a package of reforms that would give trustees new tools to avoid insolvency and protect retirees. The time to enact responsible reforms is now, before the bomb goes off.

# # #

Kline Statement on Education Department's New Waiver Guidance

Education & the Workforce Committee - Thu, 11/13/2014 - 12:00am

House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) issued the following statement after the Department of Education released new waiver guidance:

Last week, the American people sent a message to Washington: End the gridlock and begin addressing the challenges facing our country. It’s looking more and more like the Obama administration has not gotten the message. Our K-12 education system is broken and we’ve learned over the last several years the president’s controversial waiver scheme is not the answer. Instead of changing course, the administration is delivering more arbitrary rules, more regulatory burdens, and more confusion.
 
What we need is for policymakers and stakeholders to work together in crafting a new law. We have an opportunity to enact bold reforms that will help all students access the quality education they need to succeed. The president must decide whether he is willing to seize that opportunity. The House has demonstrated time and again we are ready to get this done, and I am pleased we finally have partners in the Senate willing to join us. It’s time for the president to join us as well.

 
# # #

VIDEO RELEASE: Kline Outlines Education and Workforce Priorities

Education & the Workforce Committee - Tue, 11/11/2014 - 12:00am
Rep. John Kline (R-MN), chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, today outlined broad priorities to help strengthen the nation’s classrooms and workplaces. Chairman Kline discusses in a new video steps Washington must take to support students and working families, such as fixing a broken K-12 education system, improving higher education, and providing job creators more certainty: 

 

If there is one thing we learned last week, it’s that the American people know we need to do better. They know we need education reform that empowers parents and places more control in the hands of teachers and local decision-makers. They know we need to provide employers certainty and flexibility so they can grow their businesses, create new jobs, and give workers the raise they’ve earned. They know we need to work together to help students pursue the dream of an advanced degree without living a nightmare of debt and unemployment. They know we need to continue investing in our classrooms and workplaces, but demand a better return on our investment. These are the priorities most Americans share ...They must be the priorities of Washington starting now.

To watch the video, click here.

To learn more about House efforts to strengthen America’s classrooms and workplaces, click here

# # #

Left Turn: ObamaCare Still Hurting Working Families

Education & the Workforce Committee - Fri, 10/10/2014 - 12:00am
WASHINGTON, D.C. Billions of dollars wasted on a flawed website. Numerous unilateral actions and administrative delays. And a lot of happy talk. No matter how hard the Obama administration tries, it can’t shield Americans from the devastating consequences of the president’s unpopular health care law. In fact, a new wave of cancellation notices will alert thousands of Americans that the health care plan they like is no longer available – despite the president’s repeated promises to the contrary. As Fox News reports:


More than a dozen states plan to cancel health care policies not in compliance with ObamaCare in the coming weeks, affecting thousands of people just before the midterm elections.

"It looks like several hundred thousand people across the country will receive notices in the coming days and weeks," said Jim Capretta of the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

The policies are being canceled because states that initially granted a reprieve at the request of President Obama are no longer willing to do so.

In coming weeks, 13 states and the District of Columbia plan to cancel such policies, which generally fall out of compliance with the Affordable Care Act because they don’t offer the level of coverage the law requires ...

Many of those forced out of their current plans and into ObamaCare may not be able to keep their doctors. They also could face higher deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses, making ObamaCare an election issue on the eve of voting.

Obama had originally unequivocally promised that under his health care plan, everyone could keep their doctors and plans.

Remarkably, cancellation notices aren’t the only ObamaCare problem plaguing working families. In recent weeks, press reports have also highlighted:

Reduced Hours for Workers

The clock is ticking for Tommy Cain and thousands of other U.S. employers facing deadlines to make changes to the health insurance they offer their employees under the Affordable Care Act … Business owners are considering trimming their head counts below the 50 full-time-worker cutoff or reducing their workers' hours rather than comply with the requirement, which begins in January for companies with 100 or more employees. – Wall Street Journal, “Bosses face Affordable Care Act deadline

Dropped Coverage for Part-Timers

Wal-Mart told The Associated Press that starting Jan. 1, it will no longer offer health insurance to employees who work less than an average of 30 hours a week. The move affects 30,000 employees … but comes after the company already had scaled back the number of part-time workers who were eligible for health insurance coverage since 2011. The announcement follows similar decisions by Target, Home Depot and others to completely eliminate health insurance benefits for part-time employees. – Associated Press, “Wal-Mart Cut Health Benefits for Some Part-Timers

Fewer Jobs

The economy's weakness itself has been exacerbated by the negative impact of new taxes and regulations under ObamaCare. According to Congressional Budget Office estimates, the new health-care law will levy more than $500 billion in new taxes over its first 10 years to help pay for insurance subsidies and Medicaid expansion… As a result, small and large U.S. health-care technology companies are moving R&D centers and jobs overseas. – Wall Street Journal, “ObamaCare's Anti-Innovation Effect

Ongoing Threats to Privacy

According to the Government Accountability Office report, “weaknesses [remain] in the security and privacy protections applied to HealthCare.gov and its supporting systems ... Collectively, these weaknesses put HealthCare.gov systems and the information they contain at increased and unnecessary risk of unauthorized access, use, disclosure, modification or loss. – Fox News, “HealthCare.gov still has security issues

The president’s health care law is hurting working families. Job creators, workers, and families deserve a health care system that works for them, not against them. That is why, as Speaker Boehner has noted, “Republicans remain committed to repealing the law and replacing it with solutions that will lower health care costs and protect American jobs.”

# # # 

Kline, Rokita Praise Senate Action on Bill to Strengthen Education Research

Education & the Workforce Committee - Wed, 09/17/2014 - 10:30am

House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education Chairman Todd Rokita (R-IN) today released the following joint statement commending the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee for approving H.R. 4366, the Strengthening Education through Research Act:

Education research is a vital tool for parents, teachers, and school leaders trying to build the best education possible for their students. It also informs policymakers and taxpayers about whether or not federal efforts are helping to raise student achievement. The Education Sciences Reform Act is long overdue for reform and we are pleased the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee approved a House proposal to update the law. The bill includes fiscally responsible reforms to streamline the research system, promote accountability, protect student privacy, and ensure unbiased education research. We commend Senators Harkin and Alexander for their leadership on this important issue and we hope the Senate approves the bill without delay.

To learn more about H.R. 4366, click here.

# # #

Committee Seeks Information from NLRB General Counsel on Joint-Employer Standard

Education & the Workforce Committee - Wed, 09/17/2014 - 9:30am

House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee Chairman Phil Roe have asked National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) General Counsel Richard Griffin to provide documents and information concerning his effort to rewrite the joint-employer standard under the National Labor Relations Act.

In a letter to Griffin, they wrote:

Your office recently filed an amicus brief indicating the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) should adopt a broader standard to determine joint-employer status under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). A month later, your office authorized complaints against McDonald’s USA, LLC and McDonald’s franchisees as joint-employers … It is our understanding such complaints are unprecedented.

To better understand the reason behind these actions, the committee is requesting the following information by September 30, 2014:

  • A list of all open complaints in which joint-employer status is an issue;
  • Any documents and communications related to closed complaints in which joint-employer status was an issue; and
  • A thorough description of the current joint-employer test the general counsel’s office is applying, particularly its application to franchises.

BACKGROUND: Since 1984, the NLRB has determined joint-employer status by analyzing whether the alleged employers share control over essential terms and conditions of employment, such as hiring, firing, and supervision. In recent months, the NLRB’s general counsel has engaged in an effort to discard this long held standard. At a committee oversight hearing held on September 9, small business owners and labor experts recently testified, this decision threatens to harm family businesses and destroy jobs. News reports highlight the havoc this unprecedented policy will wreak on employers and employees alike:

Business owners, both franchisers and franchisees, told the House Education and the Workforce Committee that the NLRB's move could undermine the franchising model, one of the main ways people get into business for themselves … "Individual entrepreneurs would be deprived of the opportunity to own their own businesses, franchisers would be denied the ability to expand their businesses, and millions of jobs would be lost" [said Catherine Monson, chief executive officer, FASTSIGNS International Inc.]. – Washington Examiner, Business owners: NLRB's McDonald's decision will ruin franchise model 

"I am extremely alarmed by the radical decision of the NLRB's general counsel to attempt to create joint employer status for franchisors” … [Jagruti] Panwala [hotel franchisee] said … This may establish a dangerous precedent that could ultimately eliminate one of the most successful paths of small business ownership in the United States. – Digital Journal, AAHOA Board Member Jagruti Panwala Testifies Before Congress

Catherine Monson, the CEO of signage and banner company FastSigns International Inc. — which operates on a franchise model — said the general counsel's position marks a “drastic change” from how the board's joint employer status has been interpreted since 1984…“It will completely change, and I think, destroy the franchise model.– Law 360, NLRB Joint Employer Stance Risky For Franchises, Reps. Told

A recent effort by the National Labor Relations Board's general counsel to “expand” joint employer liability under federal labor law could change the way franchise businesses operate, witnesses said …“In recent months, it's become clear the Obama National Labor Relations Board is determined to rewrite a franchise model that has served workers, employers, and consumers well for decades,” chairman Phil Roe (R-Tenn.) said. – Bloomberg BNA, House Panel Considers Impact on Franchises Of Broadening NLRA Joint Employer Liability

The NLRB is going off the rails again. They have decided to destroy business franchise/franchisee agreements by allowing the corporations that spin out thousands of small businesses using their name, business model and products to be sued over the alleged actions of a few of the small, independent business….This strikes at the heart of the independence of almost 1 million locally owned franchise businesses. – The Hill, Op-Ed, by Rick Manning, NLRB Goes Rogue Against Small Business

To read the members' letter, click here

To learn more about the September 9 oversight hearing, click here.

# # #

Walberg Statement: Hearing on the EEOC Transparency and Accountability Act (H.R. 4959), the Litigation Oversight Act of 2014 (H.R 5422), and the Certainty in Enforcement Act of 2014 (H.R. 5423)

Education & the Workforce Committee - Wed, 09/17/2014 - 12:00am
Today we will discuss a number of legislative proposals that would bring greater transparency and accountability to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. 
   
We are here because every member of the committee recognizes the EEOC is a vitally important agency. It has a responsibility to protect the right of all workers to a fair shot at employment opportunities and a workplace free of discrimination. This is a fundamental human right each and every one of us holds dear. No one should be denied a job, have their wages cut, or be passed over for a promotion because of their race, gender, religion, or disability.
  
We are here because we want the EEOC to do its job, and more importantly, to do its job effectively. That is why in recent months we have made oversight of EEOC a priority, because we know men and women are being discriminated against; we know bad actors would rather put their own hateful prejudice before the talent and experience of each individual worker. It isn’t right and it is EEOC’s mission to help stop it from happening.

Unfortunately, in recent years, the EEOC has shifted its focus away from that vital mission. Instead, it has spent a great deal of time and resources advancing a deeply flawed enforcement and regulatory agenda. Employers have fallen under EEOC’s intense scrutiny without any allegation of employment discrimination. Charges are being filed in federal court with little to no evidence of wrongdoing. Federal judges have harshly and appropriately criticized the agency for its shoddy legal work.

Each day the agency harasses employers without cause and every case tossed out of court for legal malpractice is another lost opportunity to help victims of employment discrimination. It means the veteran, injured and disabled while serving our country, will continue waiting forhis day in court. It means the single mom, who worked long and hard to earn a promotion, will continue waiting for her day in court.

More than 70,000 individual complaints are sitting in front of the commission. The backlog represents thousands of private-sector workers who believe their rights were violated and who are waiting anxiously for the commission to do its job. As the old saying goes, “justice delayed is justice denied.” It’s time to stop denying these men and women the justice they deserve.

Not only is the EEOC dropping the ball with its misguided enforcement priorities, it is also pursuing a regulatory scheme that is making it more difficult for employers to protect employees and consumers. In recent years, states and localities have adopted policies to protect Americans in vulnerable situations who come in contact with workers, such as at home and in the classroom. The EEOC has eviscerated these efforts. Quite simply, the agency’s edict restricting the use of criminal background checks is putting people in harm’s way, including women and children.

It’s time the agency changed course and that’s precisely what the legislation before us is intended to do. Among other provisions, the proposals will help shine more sunlight on EEOC activities, compel the agency to work with employers in good faith to resolve complaints, force the commissioners to do their jobs and oversee the agency’s enforcement actions, and provide a safe harbor to employers complying with federal, state, and local mandates, such as laws requiring criminal background checks during the hiring process.

These are commonsense reforms that should enjoy overwhelming bipartisan support. By supporting the legislation, you are supporting transparency at a vitally important federal agency. By supporting the legislation, you are supporting the ability of states to promote a safe and responsible workforce. By supporting the legislation, you are supporting an effort to get this agency back on track to better protect the rights of America’s workers.

I urge my colleagues to support a more effective, accountable Equal Employment Opportunity Commission by supporting the legislation. I would like to thank my colleague, Representative Hudson, for his leadership on this important issue. Again, we are grateful to our witnesses for joining us and I look forward to our discussion.

# # #

***MEDIA ADVISORY*** Subcommittee to Examine Legislation to Provide Greater EEOC Transparency and Accountability

Education & the Workforce Committee - Tue, 09/16/2014 - 12:00am
On Wednesday, September 17 at 10:00 a.m., the Subcommittee on Workforce Protections, chaired by Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI), will hold a legislative hearing on the EEOC Transparency and Accountability Act (H.R. 4959), the Litigation Oversight Act of 2014 (H.R 5422), and the Certainty in Enforcement Act of 2014 (H.R. 5423). The hearing will take place in room 2175 of the Rayburn House Office Building.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. At a recent oversight hearing, witnesses shared growing concerns with various EEOC regulatory and enforcement actions. For example, “guidance” finalized in 2012 limits employers’ use of criminal background checks during the hiring process. The subcommittee also examined EEOC’s increasing reliance on systemic discrimination cases and the commission’s delegation of its litigation authority to the Office of General Counsel. In response to these concerns, a number of legislative proposals have been introduced:

  • H.R. 4959, introduced by Rep. Richard Hudson (R-NC), would increase EEOC transparency by, among other provisions, requiring the commission to post on its website and in its annual report any case in which the commission was required to pay court sanctioned fees or costs.
              
  • H.R. 5422, introduced by Rep. Walberg, would require EEOC commissioners to approve by majority vote all EEOC-initiated litigation involving multiple plaintiffs or allegations of systemic discrimination.
               
  • H.R. 5423, also introduced by Rep. Walberg, would provide a safe harbor to employers complying with federal or state mandates, such as a law requiring criminal background checks.

Wednesday’s hearing will provide members the opportunity to examine these proposals and ongoing concerns over EEOC’s regulatory and enforcement practices.

To learn more about the hearing, visit http://edworkforce.house.gov/hearings.

# # #

WITNESS LIST

Ms. Lynn A. Clements
Director, Regulatory Affairs
Berkshire Associates, Inc.
Columbia, MD

Mr. Eric S. Dreiband
Partner
Jones Day
Washington, D.C.

Mr. Michael L. Foreman
Director, Civil Rights Appellate Clinic
The Pennsylvania State University, Dickinson School of Law
State College, PA

Mr. William F. Lloyd
General Counsel
Deloitte LLP
New York, NY

House Passes Bipartisan Legislation to Reform Child Care & Development Block Grant Program

Education & the Workforce Committee - Mon, 09/15/2014 - 5:00pm
House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education Subcommittee Chairman Todd Rokita (R-IN) issued the following statements after the House passed as amended S. 1086, a bipartisan, bicameral agreement to reform and reauthorize the Child Care and Development Block Grant program:
 
“The Child Care and Development Block Grant program is a vital lifeline for parents trying to build a better future for their families,” said Chairman Kline. “Whether going to work or school, a lot of parents have to decide who will care for their children and worry if they’ve made the right decision. This bipartisan legislation will strengthen this important program to give working moms and dads greater access to quality, affordable child care. I want to thank my Republican and Democrat colleagues in the House and Senate for their work in crafting this legislation, and hope it will be sent to the president’s desk as soon as possible.”
 
“Today, I’m proud to reauthorize the Child Care Development Block Grant program with changes that strengthen parental choice, increase safety standards for providers, rein in an over-zealous federal government, and maintain the program’s essential purpose as work support with state flexibility,” said Rep. Todd Rokita.
 
The Child Care and Development Block Grant Act provides funds to states to help low-income families pay for child care while a parent works or is in an educational or job training program. The law has not been reauthorized since 1996. The bipartisan, bicameral agreement is based upon legislation introduced in 2013 by Senators Mikulski and Burr that passed the Senate earlier this year and includes reforms to:

• Enhance parental choice by providing information about available care options from all providers, including faith-based and community-based providers, and allowing parents to choose the child care provider that best suits their family’s needs.
   
• Strengthen safety in child care settings by requiring all providers to comply with state health, safety, and fire standards and undergo annual inspections.
   
• Promote high quality child care by reserving funds at the state level to improve the quality of care, enhancing states’ ability to train providers and develop safer and more effective child care services.
 
To learn more about the bill, click here.
 
To read letters of support, click here.

Kline Statement: S.1086 Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2014

Education & the Workforce Committee - Mon, 09/15/2014 - 12:00am

Across the country countless men and women are trying to build a better life for their families. Some are working more for less in order to make ends meet. Others are pursuing a degree at a local university or improving their skills at a nearby community college.

Whether going to work or school, most parents face a difficult question: Who will care for my child? Is there a trusted child care provider who will keep my son or daughter safe? And if there is, can I afford it?

For nearly two decades, the Child Care and Development Block Grant program has helped low-income families answer these tough questions. The program funds state efforts to provide vulnerable families access to child care. Parents receive assistance in the form of a voucher or certificate to pay the child care provider of their choice.

Approximately one and a half million children under the age of 13 are in a child care arrangement funded through the program, including over 25,000 children in my home state of Minnesota. It is a vital safety net for moms and dads trying to lift their families out of poverty.

At a hearing held earlier this year, one witness told the story of a woman named Rita. Speaking of the Child Care and Development Block Grant program, Rita said, “These federal investments were a quite serious lifeline for me…I know where I came from and I do not want to go back.”

Rita’s experience is shared by countless Americans. Yet despite the importance of the program, it has been almost 20 years since Congress reformed the law. As with any federal program left on auto-pilot, problems will emerge and this program is no different.

Poor coordination across related services and a lack of information make it difficult for parents looking for the best provider to know the full range of options. Perhaps most troubling, a patchwork of state licensing, monitoring, and related safety requirements means some children aren’t protected like they should be.

These families deserve better, which is why I am proud to support this important legislation. The bill before us includes a number of commonsense reforms that will strengthen the program and our support of these at-risk families.

For example, the legislation requires all participating child care providers to undergo, at a minimum, an annual inspection to ensure compliance with health, safety, and fire standards. The bill enhances existing training for providers and their workers, so every child is under the care of a well-trained professional. The legislation also reins in the authority of the secretary of Health and Human Services, to prevent this and future administrations from writing onerous rules that would limit access to this important service.

We have a long way to go before every American enjoys the opportunity and prosperity they and their families deserve. By supporting this bipartisan legislation, we have a chance to help these families succeed and set their children on the path to a bright future.

# # #

Copyright

© 2014 Women Construction Owners & Executives USA
WCOE grows your contacts, contracts & bottom line.