IEC Goes to Capitol Hill

May 6-8, IEC members congregated in Washington, D.C., for the annual IEC National Legislative Conference. The Conference, which took place at the L’Enfant Plaza Hotel, began with several committee meetings during the day, but officially kicked off during the Welcome Reception held Monday night.

for web.jpgHeld in conjunction with the Welcome Reception was the IEC Pride Political Action Committee (PAC) Scotch Tasting. Members who donated to the IEC PRIDE PAC were able to sample 10 different scotches from the six regions of Scotland.  The best bottles of scotch were then auctioned off and a highly entertaining bidding war ensued. To make the experience more authentic, IEC past president Mike Kallmeyer and board member Lloyd Quinney dressed up in traditional Scotsmen garb, which also helped raise money for the PAC. Besides scotch, Renea Beasley of IEC Texas and Janet Martin from IEC Rocky Mountain graciously donated boxes of cigars, which were available for purchase with proceeds going to the PAC. Overall, the PAC Scotch Tasting raised nearly $7,000!

On Tuesday, May 7, attendees woke up to grey skies and heavy rain…perfect conference weather! The day began with the General Session, featuring Jane Oates, assistant secretary of employment and training at the Department of Labor; and Marc Freedman, director of labor law policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Oates gave an intriguing speech on the challenges of attracting younger generations into trade schools. “Alignment of apprenticeship with college credit helps [students] invest in themselves,” she noted. She also explained the importance of the “earn while you learn” benefit of apprenticeships. She believes that this is one of the best selling points for trade schools to utilize. “We have the best workforce in the world; we just have to keep it,” Oates concluded.

After Oates, Freedman took the stage to discuss policy issues currently occurring at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. He shed light on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) letter of interpretation, allowing unions to visit non-union sites during a random safety inspection. He also delved into the Chamber of Commerce’s battle with OSHA over the violator enforcement program; “it’s so complicated and tight, there’s no way we are getting out of this,” he related.

Attendees left the ballroom briefly to attend committee meetings, but shortly ventured back for a Luncheon featuring former National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) member Brian Hayes. Currently a shareholder at Ogletree Deakins, Hayes had an interesting challenge as the lone Republican member during his tenure on the NLRB. He related how the Unions are searching for ways to exert political power. “When the Employee Free Choice Act died in Congress, organized labor desperately looked for new ways of influence,” said Hayes.  This is when unions began targeting the regulatory realm. He also explained how the heavily pro-union leaning of the NLRB has negatively affected the public’s view and trust of the agency. “Ambush Elections was such a transparent, results-driven ruling that it has really hurt the integrity of the Board,” he stated. Hayes briefly updated the attendees on the implications of the Noel Canning v. NLRB decision on the validity of the Board’s past decisions. He left attendees with advice: advocate for a more central NLRB to your Senators.

That night, due to the ongoing rainy day, the Political Education Fund (PEF) Night at the Ballpark was canceled. IEC National staff quickly proposed an for web2.jpgalternative and treated PEF donors to an evening of bowling, good food, and great music at Lucky Strike. Despite the quick change in plans, members still supported the PEF and more than $5,000 was raised.

Wednesday morning kicked off with the Legislative Issues Briefi