With 2013 now in the history books, it’s time to remember and reflect on all of the activities that took place in Washington involving the workplace—thanks in large part to the direct advocacy of SHRM members like you and our staff.
While most Americans will remember the 16-day government shutdown that occurred in October, the HR community witnessed a number of accomplishments this past year that either directly impacted or could bring about real change in the areas of immigration policy, workplace flexibility, retirement security and other aspects of employment law. Here’s my Top 10 list of accomplishments for 2013:
SHRM Advocacy Team: As a testament to the ongoing and structured advocacy efforts of the A-Team, SHRM received recognition from the National Journal for its leadership in association advocacy. Featured in its October 2013 publication “Best Practices in Washington Advocacy” which examined the structural shifts in Washington, D.C., advocacy activities, SHRM was singled out for its innovative strategies that are being deployed in today’s public policy environment.
Immigration Reform: Throughout the debate over immigration reform legislation in the 113th Congress, SHRM vigorously has maintained its strong support for a fully electronic employment verification system, one that provides employers with certainty in their hiring decisions and alleviates the need for HR practitioners to continue to complete the Form I-9.
Compensatory Time: As a recognized leader on the issue, SHRM was asked to lead the employer community coalition in support of the Working Families Flexibility Act, sponsored in the House by Representative Martha Roby (R-AL). In support of the bill, SHRM testified on the measure and A-Team members reached 358 U.S. House members by sending 1,021 letters and met with 24 House offices in support of the proposal. One Pennsylvania A-Team member called an undecided House Representative the morning of the House vote on H.R. 1406, and hours later, that member of Congress tweeted out support for the bill! H.R. 1406 passed the House by a bipartisan vote of 223 to 204 in May and has been referred to the Senate for consideration.
Legal Action on Presidential Appointments: In NLRB v. Noel Canning, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia agreed with SHRM that the Obama administration’s use of the recess appointment power under the Constitution to name members to the National Labor Relations Board was improper and, therefore, the Board’s decisions made with the improper members should be invalidated. SHRM also supported certiorari to the Supreme Court (which held oral argument on the case earlier this month) and has joined a brief to the Court arguing that the appointments were invalid.
Member Advocacy: In 2013, nearly 1,000 HR professionals (during SHRM’s Employment Law and Leadership conferences, as well as through our Day Inside the Beltway program) conducted face-to-face meetings with their legislators and/or their staffs in Washington on key HR issues. In addition, through SHRM’s A-Team initiative and through over 20 Hill Day events organized and conducted in their respective state capitals, SHRM members are raising the visibility and the brand of the HR profession on workplace issues.
Retirement Security: SHRM continued in its role as Chair of the Coalition to Protect Retirement and, in this capacity, was instrumental in the official launch of the coalition and its advocacy efforts on Capitol Hill to maintain the tax preference of employer-provided retirement assistance. SHRM and coalition members met with staff in more than 50 House and Senate offices, submitted comments to the House Pension Working Group, sent comments to the Senate on the “Clean Slate” approach, and sent more than 5,000 letters to the Hill regarding tax reform.
Labor Certification Applications: In late 2013, in an amicus filing, SHRM and its strategic partner the Council for Global Immigration helped reach a positive settlement in a case pending before the Board of Labor Certification Appeals that could have ramifications for other employers. This result stands for the proposition that organizations filing labor certification applications with the Department of Labor can use a centralized system to notify recently laid-off workers of job opportunities. Thus, employers do not need to send individual notifications to all such employees every time an application is filed—a process that would be unduly burdensome for both employers and job seekers.
Supreme Court Action: In Genesis v. Symczyk, the Supreme Court agreed with SHRM’s position advanced in an amicus brief that a collective action can be mooted when the main plaintiff received a judgment in full under the Fair Labor Standards Act.
Workplace Flexibility: Throughout the year, Lisa Horn and Cassidy Neal Solis delivered 95 workflex educational programs at SHRM state council and chapter events in support of our When Work Works initiative and the Sloan Awards in partnership with the Families and Work Institute.
Affirmative Action for the Disabled and Veterans: The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs’ updated rules on Affirmative Action and Nondiscrimination for Individuals with Disabilities and Protected Veterans were significantly moderated based on SHRM’s input. SHRM filed comments to both proposed rules and met with the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs of the White House to raised concerns about the micromanaging approach that the rules took in the original form. In the final rules, although the numerical goals were retained, most of the onerous record-keeping and intrusive requirements were removed.
2014—which is an election year for all 435 members of the House of Representatives, over one-third of the U.S. Senate and a number of governors and state elected officials—is shaping up to be as busy as last year, if not more so. Thus, it’s important that our members stay informed about the issues, remain engaged in the public policy process, and VOTE on November 4.
Thanks for your continued support and I hope to see you at this year’s Employment Law & Legislative Conference, scheduled for March 17-19 in Washington, D.C.!