By Michael Adelizzi, ASA Executive Vice President
Monday morning and you are looking forward to a good week ahead when six
business agents from the union walk into your office. They lay signature cards
from 50% of your employees on the table and promptly inform you that your
company is organized. No election, no chance to talk to your employees.
Instead, you have 90 days to negotiate with them and if you don’t come to an
agreement, the NLRB will come in and settle the issue.
doesn’t matter that your employees
signed the union organizing cards when the same six business agents came to
their homes late at night and asked them to sign up for the union. And it
doesn’t matter that your employees really don’t want to be union…it’s too late,
you are organized. No taking back the signatures, no changing their minds. It’s
over and you have lost control of your company.
What would you do? What will this cost
your company? Sound far fetched? Not if the unions have their way.
The Employee Free Choice Act, aka the
“Card Check” bill, is one of organized labor’s top legislative agenda items. It
is designed to make it easy for unions to organize your employees. Opposing
Card Check is just one of 13 key issues where the American Supply Association
has focused its advocacy efforts.
Over the past few years, issues that could have negatively
impacted the PHCP and PVF industry such as Card Check, LIFO Repeal, Cap and
Trade, and tax reform remained relatively dormant. However, change in control
of the White House and Congress breathed new life into many of these issues.
Add to that the onslaught of new regulations from agencies such as EPA and DOE
and you have a recipe for potential disaster to an industry like ours where
profit margins are razor thin.
So you operate your business for decades, following all the rules that
the IRS has set up. You use the LIFO accounting method and actually have established
several million in LIFO reserves over the years when the government decides
that if they eliminate the deduction for LIFO, they can get billions of new revenue.
You now owe the federal government millions in new taxes because they switched
the rules, and you don't have the money to pay the new tax bill...oh, and the
banks aren't loaning any money these days. You are faced with the very real
possibility that you will have to shut the doors of your business.
When you consider these scenarios and
that only two votes could turn them into real-life situations, somehow that
small fee for ASA membership dues doesn't seem so much like a luxury and becomes
much more a necessity.
Serious issues are being added to the
table almost on a daily basis and have become so complex and large that no one
association has the ability to kill or pass legislation all on its own. Even
mega-organizations such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, AARP and the National
Association of Wholesaler-Distributors (NAW) act in partnership with other
organizations and trade groups to impact legislation and regulation. “Today, issues in
Washington are passed or defeated by building coalitions of like-minded
organizations to advance a distributor or manufacturer agenda," said Joe
Poehling, CEO of First Supply and ASA’s chairman of the board.
Currently, ASA’s ability to engage these
issues is hampered by a cost prohibitive “pay-as-you-go” effort, which has
resulted in lobby invoices exceeding the association’s budget by over 300
percent. In response, the Executive Committee has made an effective and
fiscally-responsible decision to authorize soliciting the funds to hire a
full-time staff lobbyist. "ASA needs to become a full-time engaged partner to not only help
pass their agenda but to make sure that our plumbing, heating and PVF agenda is
represented and advanced,” continues Poehling. “Important legislation such as the
ASA sponsored W.A.T.E.R legislation never would have been introduced if we left
it up to someone else. If you need proof on whether it works or not, look
at all of the incentives available for windows and doors, but nothing to date
for water conservation products, although 38 states need to place water
restriction on their constituents.”
What ASA is facing is a choice between
being a full-time effective participant in coalitions such as LIFO Reform
Coalition, Coalition for a Democratic Workplace (Card Check), Tax Relief
Coalition, Family Business Estate Tax Coalition, Coalition Against Copper Theft
and Coalition for Affordable American Energy or blowing our budget. Every
meeting of each coalition costs ASA’s budget nearly $1,000 to utilize the services
of a lobby firm. With coalitions meeting on a monthly - sometimes weekly - basis
and ASA engaged in nearly 20 different coalitions, you can see how the move to
a full time staff person working 2,000 hours a year makes sense to protect the
industry and ASA’s budget.
ASA serves as an educator and
information envoy to help legislators and the administration make informed and
logical decisions. The issues are demanding us to step up full time. “Some of ASA’s leaders have asked if
we should just give money to another organization, such as NAW, to lobby for us
instead of hiring a full time staff person,” said Dennis Good, CEO of M. Cooper
Supply and chairman of ASA’s Government Affairs Committee. “There are two
reasons that isn’t the best option. First, the NAW staff alone can’t possibly
meet with thousands of government elected officials, staff and regulators. Second, who will ensure that the PHCP and PVF
industry’s interests are promoted? ASAisthe voice of our industry. Politics is a team sport
and we need a player in the starting lineup.”
Our industry is deserving of more than
piecemeal representation in Washington. The move to raise funds to absorb expenses
associated with promoting the association’s priorities is not unprecedented. Even in the face of doubters, ASA had the
vision to establish a $10 million dollar endowment fund for industry education.
Today, in the face of much of the same doubt, ASA is focusing its leadership
toward establishing a permanent presence in Washington. This decision will have an immeasurable
impact on future legislation, regulation, and - more importantly - the
To help support ASA’s effort
to hire a full time government affairs effort, contact the ASA national office
at 312.464.0090 firstname.lastname@example.org.