WASHINGTON, D.C. — As part of his speech during NPMA Legislative Day, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele had this advice for attendees before they headed to Capitol Hill: “The conversation they want to have is not the conversation that you want to have and you must have,” said Steele. “So what will it take for them to listen to you? It’s not what you say — it’s how you say it. I say you go in there with a big ole sledgehammer and say, ‘Pay attention and listen to me.’”
What’s different about this year’s visits to Capitol Hill as opposed to previous Legislative Days? Americans are becoming increasingly frustrated with a government that has become more and more partisan and less effective, meaning that constituents are more likely to vote out their elected officials. “The American people are looking at issues differently, they are engaging differently and the sledgehammer that could fall is the heads of the incumbents — both Democrats and Republicans,” said Steele. “There is a very different dynamic…you are in the driver’s seat.”
With that advice, Legislative Day attendees headed to Capitol Hill to encourage their representatives to consider the industry’s position on the following:
CARD CHECK. The Employee Free Choice Act (H.R. 1409, S. 560) also referred to as "card check." EFCA is proposed legislation to "amend the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) to establish an easier system to enable employees to form, join, or assist labor organizations, to provide for mandatory injunctions for unfair labor practices during organizing efforts, and for other purposes."
Currently, NLRA establishes two primary ways that employees are able to form or join a union: 1) a private ballot election administered by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) after at least 30 percent of workers have signed authorization cards or 2) the collection of signed authorization "check cards" from a majority of employees in a bargaining unit.
EFCA fundamentally alters the NLRA by allowing unions to use the "card check" process or signature campaign each time they try to organize employees. If enacted, EFCA would require the NLRB to certify any union that secures a simple majority of signatures through this petition-like process. Such a process effectively allows the establishment of unions everywhere without a valid vote. Under the "card check" method, union organizers present employee signatures on authorization cards as representing the true intent of the workers. However, even a Federal Appeals Court has noted that, "Workers sometimes sign union authorization cards not because they intend to vote for the union in the election, but to avoid offending the person who asks them to sign, often a fellow worker, or simply to get the person off their back."
Many businesses, including pest control businesses, believe that the only way to guarantee worker protection is through the continued use of a federally supervised private ballot so that personal decisions about whether to join a union remain private. Swapping federally supervised private ballot elections for a "card check" process tramples the privacy of individual workers who should not have to reveal to anyone how they exercise their right to choose whether to organize their coworkers in a union.
Terminix’s Norm Goldenberg reviewed this issue with attendees prior to their Legislative Day visits. Goldenberg said that EFCA is an effort by unions to make money by increasing membership, and thus collecting more union dues. Goldenberg said the bigger issue is that EFCA divides a company’s workforce. “Let’s say you have 10 people in your company and six of them sign the card check to become a part of a union. Then what about the four other people that didn’t sign? You will have two opposing workforces in your operation.”
SEPA. In December 2009, a new version of the School Environment Protection Act (SEPA), H.R. 4159, was introduced in Congress by Rep. Rush Holt (D-N.J.).
NPMA and its members believe that this most recent federal school pesticide bill is unnecessary, overreaching legislation that unjustifiably restricts the use of commonly used pest control products at schools.
Moreover, SEPA imposes bureaucratic and onerous notification and posting requirements upon school districts including advance notice of all applications of pesticides not designated as a “least toxic pesticide” as well as annual notice of the school pest management plan.
Perhaps the biggest problem is that SEPA is “one-size-fits-all” legislation that requires schools in Florida to manage pests the same as schools in Alaska, completely ignoring the different pest pressures in each state.
Additionally, close to 40 states already have laws or regulations in place specific to pest management in and around schools. Adopting a federal bill would create chaos and confusion — not only among PMPs but in school districts — in states that already have some sort of school pest management law or regulatory requirement in place. Mike Katz, president of Western Exterminator, Anaheim, Calif., who reviewed this issue with Legislative Day attendees, said school pesticide legislation is “a better state issue.”
BED BUGS. Another important objective of Legislative Day was for attendees to educate legislators about bed bugs to sort of “prime the pump” should a bill aimed at addressing the bed bug crisis be introduced in Congress.
Attendees were asked to advise Congress to consider the following options
Provide additional resources and direct CDC to provide leadership. Additional resources are needed to help combat bed bug problems that plague lower or fixed income housing. Congress can provide much needed relief by directing the U.S. EPA and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to divert existing resources to fight bed bugs in lower and fixed income housing. Specifically, Congress should direct EPA and HUD to make funds available fromt eh Pesticide Environmental Stewardship Program, Environmental Justice Small Grants and other programs to states, local governments, and loca housing authorities to combat bed bugs. To ensure that the funds are used effectively, eligibility should be limited to entities that adopt and implement a bed bug action plan and require treatments to be performed by state-certified pesticide applicators, trained in effective pest management strategies.
Authorize research. The pest management industry has funded a number of bed bug related research projects and will continue doing so. EPA’s continuing pesticide re-evaluation program will likely lead to the loss of additional products. Because of the relatively small size of the bed bug product market and the high cost of developing new products, there may not be sufficient incentives for the private sector to develop new safe and effective bed bug control products. Congress should rectify this problem by establishing a research program to helped develop effective methods of controlling bed bugs and other resurgent household pests. The program could be house at the U.S. Department of Agricultures IR-4 program or the Agricultural Research Service in conjunction with land grant universities with structural pest management expertise
Consider additional criteria in approving pesticide products. When EPA registers new products, alters or reevaluates the registration of existing products or considers petitions for emergency exemptions, it should consider factors such as (1) the impact on Americans “quality of life” when residential and other pests are not able to be controlled; (2) the risks that arise when consumers resort to overapplying ineffective products or use unregistered products or other homemade remedies and 3) the opportunity for the proliferation of inefficacious or “snake oil” type products when affordable, effective products do not exist.
In a related issue and to discourage the marketing of inefficacious products by unscrupulous companies, Congress could require efficacy data for all pesticide products claiming to control bed bugs, to provide assurance to the professional industry, consumers and federal and state regulatory officials that such products work as advertised. This is especially important for bed bugs control products because it is not immediately obvious when a product does not work.
A concerted federal effort is needed to combat the crises. EPA should create an advisory committee under the Federal Advisory Committee Act, chaired by the assistant administrator, advising the Agency on strategies it may adopt to effectively combat bed bugs. Members of the committee would be drawn from state and local health and housing officials, pest management industry representatives and state pesticide regulatory agencies
Congress should require the Secretaries of the Departments of Health and Human Services, Commerce and Housing and Urban Development and EPA Administrator to report to Congress on steps the federal government could take to combat the bed bug epidemic.
Congress should demand greater intergovernmental cooperation and coordination by instructing the Secretaries of the Departments of Health and Human Services, Commerce and Housing and Urban Development and EPA Administrator to take measures to coordinate the federal government’s response to the crisis.
Legislative Day 2010 was sponsored by FMC and Dow AgroSciences.