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SMACNA opposes legislative efforts to place apprenticeship ratios into statute. Legislation that proposes to set apprenticeship ratios at 1 to 1 for all trades ignore the important differences inherent in construction trades education. Such bills are an attempt to circumvent prevailing wage requirements. By reducing the required ratio, low wage contractors could pay half of the workers on a public project the apprentice wage. The result would not only be unproductive, but also unsafe. SMACNA supports the current practice of allowing the Department of Labor and Industry to determine apprenticeship ratios.
Best Value Contracting:
SMACNA supports the concept of awarding contracts to construction companies based on a combination of qualifications and price. Procurement agencies should consider a company's experience, training and past performance before selecting a contractor. Practices like the PA Department of General Services "Best Value Contracting" encourage contractors to perform at a high level. At the same time, SMACNA supports streamlining the process and eliminating the excessive paperwork often required from contractors. In some cases, the amount of information requested from small subcontractors has discouraged participation. At the same time, the traditional low bid selection process also makes sense for projects that are not complex.
Health Care Reform:
SMACNA supports legislative efforts that result in lower health care premiums for employers and individuals that purchase health insurance. Rising health care costs represent one of the most critical problems facing the unionized construction industry.
SMACNA supports efforts that:
SMACNA opposes the creation of a State subsidized health insurance program available only to select companies that have not provided coverage for their employees in the past.
- increase competition among insurers
- reduce hospital borne infections
- require companies not offering health insurance to bear some of the costs to provide care for the uninsured
- create tax credits for companies providing appropriate health insurance to their employees
SMACNA supports the prevailing wage law in Pennsylvania. Prevailing wage allows contractors with highly trained and fairly compensated workforces to compete for public projects. Without prevailing wage, public projects would often be awarded to the contractor who paid the lowest wages and benefits because such contracts are typically low bid awards. Prevailing wage is a minimum wage for construction trades and makes quality construction and efficiency the determining factors on project awards. SMACNA opposes efforts to repeal or dilute the intent of the Prevailing Wage law.
SMACNA of PA supports legislation to eliminate retainage when the owner has other performance protections such as a bond. The withholding of retainage without cause or purpose causes great harm to many contractors and increases the cost of construction. The practice of automatically withholding a certain percentage of a contracts value as "retainage" is unnecessary on projects where the contractor has provided a performance bond.
SMACNA of PA supports the Separations Act which requires public works contracts to have separate specifications and bids for electrical, heating, plumbing and ventilating portions of each building project. Since 1913 this law has provided the model method of public works building construction. Multiple prime construction has proven to be less expensive than single prime construction. By breaking a project into 4 parts, the Separations Act also encourages small and medium sized contractors to participate in public works. Without this law, some of those contractors may not have sufficient bonding capacity to bid on project under a single contract. SMACNA of PA opposes efforts to repeal or dilute the intent of the Separations Act.
SMACNA supports efforts to enforce immigration laws and prevent the widespread practice of employing illegal aliens as cheap labor on construction sites. The modern construction industry requires workers who have achieved both skill and safety training. Companies that flaunt laws and exploit illegal workers gain an unfair advantage against their reputable competitors. SMACNA supports legislation that penalizes companies that are found to have willfully employed undocumented workers. SMACNA also support legislation to require contractors to utilize the E-Verify system when hiring workers.
Uniform Construction Code:
SMACNA supports Pennsylvania's Uniform Construction Code law. Even though the law provides for exceptions and variances, uniformity of building codes from town to town is a benefit to all contractors. SMACNA supports efforts to bring about consistent interpretation and enforcement of the International Building Code at the State and all local levels.