June 3, 2023

Washington Wire: Tell Congress NO to Tax Increases, YES to Career Training Investment



Tell Congress NO to Tax Increases, YES to Career Training Investment
Want to pay more taxes? Do nothing.
The Senate is set to consider tax legislation that would raise taxes on manufacturers in the U.S. and reverse many of the positive impacts the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) has had on the economy. 
One Voice fought hard and won with the passage of the TCJA, creating a tax code that incentivizes domestic manufacturing through lower rates and stronger investment provisions. At a time when manufacturers, like you, are working to grow their businesses, Congress should be investing in manufacturing such as by increasing funding for Career and Technical Education (CTE) and training not placing additional financial burdens on America’s job creators. 
Your voice matters and Congress needs to hear from you on the negative consequences of raising taxes on U.S. manufacturers. Click here to contact your Senators TODAY and call on them to support American manufacturers by opposing tax increases in the budget reconciliation.



Steel, Aluminum Quota Levels Released
In an important development for buyers of steel and aluminum, the Commerce Department posted on its website the exact levels of steel and aluminum permitted to enter the U.S. tariff-free by product type from each of the 27-member nations of the European Union. On January 1, 2022, the U.S. with replace the current 25 percent tariffs on steel and 10 percent on aluminum from the EU with tariff rate quota (TRQ) systems. Under a TRQ, the steel or aluminum enters without tariff until a certain level of imports of the product from that country are reached, then the 25 percent and 10 percent tariffs apply for the remainder of the quota period. Manufacturers are strongly advised to view the charts and speak with their steel and aluminum suppliers about how the new system impacts their business, especially for new orders and job quotes when the quota is near being filled and tariffs take effect. The Commerce Department will administer the steel TRQ quotas on a quarterly basis, while the aluminum TRQ is an annual regime. 



OSHA ETS Implementation Halted, Vaccine Mandate Comment Period Extended
In an important step, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has extended the comment period for the COVID-19 vaccination and testing emergency temporary standard (ETS) to Jan. 19, 2022. One Voice along with other groups filed formal comments requesting OSHA extended the comment period, which they did by 45 days to allow stakeholders additional time to review the ETS and collect information and data necessary for comment. 
Following an order by the courts to indefinitely stay the Occupational Safety & Health Administration’s (OSHA) Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) for COVID-19 vaccinations, OSHA has halted all work on implementing the rule while litigation over its legality plays out.
OSHA has asked the court for a termination of that stay. In a November 23 emergency motion, OSHA asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit to lift the order imposed by a panel of 5th Circuit judges which blocked all actions by OSHA related to implementation or enforcement of the ETS.  
In the motion OSHA urged the 6th Circuit to allow full implementation of the ETS while litigation is ongoing, or alternately if it does keep a stay in place to narrow the scope so that "the masking-and-testing requirement can remain in effect" for unvaccinated workers even if other provisions do not. The agency is also asking that the court allow OSHA to work on guidance and/or training materials in preparation for release once the stay is lifted. 
One Voice will continue to monitor the ever-chaining developments and keep members informed as the ETS makes its way through the courts. Employers are advised to prepare follow the requirements of the ETS while litigation continues and consult with legal counsel about any steps they should take at this time. 



OSHA to Issue Heat Enforcement Program Next Spring
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is set to publish a National Emphasis Program (NEP) for heat danger enforcement by "late March" 2022. The enforcement program will target "heat-related interventions and inspections of work activities on days when the heat index exceeds 80 degrees Fahrenheit," but is still developing a formal directive to that effect. The NEP on heat inspections will apply to indoor and outdoor worksites where potential heat-related hazards exist. The initiative will also expand education for employers on how to prevent heat-related illnesses.
The NEP is a part of a "multi-prong" White House initiative to reduce heat-related illness and death in indoor and outdoor occupational settings announced by the Biden Administration on September 20, 2021. Another prong will be a standard to protect workers from heat. The new heat illness standard will target indoor and outdoor workers. Several states, such as California, Oregon, Washington, and Minnesota already have heat-related standards in place, while others such as Virginia, Maryland, and Connecticut are all in the process of crafting their own rules. 
The Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) on heat illness prevention in outdoor and indoor work settings was published by OSHA on October 27, 2021. The ANPRM seeks stakeholder input on dozens of subjects related to the dangers posed by high heat, with specific questions on metrics for identifying dangerous temperatures, lessons learned from existing state and employer heat programs and equity issues related to the hazard. OSHA will use the comments received as they begin to draft a standard.  



Labor Proposes Rule Abolishing IRAPs
The Department of Labor has issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on the elimination of industry-recognized apprenticeship programs (IRAPs). The proposed rule would rescind the regulatory framework used to establish and govern IRAPs.
IRAPs, which One Voice has supported, allowed industry groups such as the National Institute for Metalworking Skills to develop programs and certify apprentices. The administration, instead, will focus on the registered apprenticeship model.
President Biden has issued an Executive Order (EO) in February reversing the 2017 EO from former President Trump which launched IRAPs. Biden also tasked DOL with developing new regulations to reverse the 2020 final rule that established the IRAP model.
Following the EO from Biden, the Labor Department “slowed support” for IRAPs by ceasing consideration of new or pending applications to serve as a third-party certification entity under the IRAP model, known as “standards recognition entities” (SREs). While the Administration slowed support, the 27 SREs that were approved during the Trump Administration continue to approve IRAPs. In addition, all IRAPs that were previously approved continue to operate. DOL has said that once the proposal is finalized, the administration will work with SREs and IRAPs to transition to the Registered Apprenticeship system.