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AFS Government Affairs Committee Update
   Stephanie Salmon, AFS Washington Office  |  August 26, 2016
On July 21st, the GAC held a conference call on the continuing issues facing our industry. Below are the latest updates on some of the challenging concerns:

Opposition to OSHA’s silica standard triggered a number of lawsuits from construction and manufacturing groups arguing the new rule is economically and technologically impossible to implement. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, as well as producers of cement and concrete block are dropping their stand-alone legal challenge to OSHA's new silica standards and are instead seeking to intervene in support of the brick industry's suit. Lawsuits challenging OSHA's crystalline silica were consolidated in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit Court.
  The court hasn't moved on our case - no briefing schedule, no order acting party. The court has flexibility to dictate how the case will proceed.
  Our strategy stays the same - focus on technological feasibility, economic feasibility and the gap between the two - they don't match up. We are waiting for the court to announce next steps on briefs. There will be a panel of 3 judges that will hear the case. They have not yet been appointed.
OSHA Penalty Increases: OSHA on schedule to boost maximum penalties for safety and health violations by almost 80 percent to catch up with inflation since 1990, after the White House Office of Management & Budget (OMB) recently completed review of the rule scheduled to take effect on Aug. 1. State-plan OSHA states, will be required to adjust their state penalties so that they at least match those imposed under the federal standards. The top penalty for serious violations will rise from $7,000 to $12,471. The maximum penalty for willful or repeated violations will increase from $70,000 to $124,709. To best protect against potential exposure to the new penalties, foundries should conduct internal audits to make sure that all their safety programs are in compliance with OSHA standards.

Persuader rule: Good news - Texas District Court issued a preliminary injunction blocking the DOL from implementing and enforcing its new "persuader" rule which was set to go into effect on July 1. The persuader rule requires employers as well as their labor advisors (including attorneys and consultants) to publicly disclose agreements and arrangements that have long been exempt regarding collective bargaining and union organization rights, or obtain information concerning union or employee activities in connection with a labor dispute involving the employer. Motions for summary judgment will be filed in Aug., making it possible, to resolve the case before 2017. The Labor Department has until August 26 to appeal the injunction against the regulation.

EEOC: The equal employment Opportunity Commission issued in July revisions to its proposed EEO-1 pay data collection report. The current EEO-1 form requires employers with at least 100 employees to report employment data by sex, race and ethnicity. The revised form would add information on total compensation and actual hours worked as reported on W-2 forms with the 2017 EEO-1 reporting cycle. The new collected pay data is designed to give the EEOC more information about compensation disparities and flag possible patterns or instances of discrimination. The business community is concerned that W-2 is too broad and won't be an accurate indicator of pay. The W-2 doesn't accurately reflect any type of benefit that is not taxed, such as dependent care and 401K employer contributions.