April 17, 2010
Cement Industry to turn around this year
Following a 26.6 percent decline in cement consumption from 2008 to 2009, the Portland Cement Association (PCA) forecasts a modest 5.2 increase in this year-the first year-over-year improvement since consumption peaked in 2005. Stimulus-funded infrastructure projects and pent-up demand for sustainable, cost-effective materials will propel consumption up another 16.5 percent in 2011 and 14.5 Percent in 2012, according to PCA.
Senate Blocks NLRB Nominee
A Feb 9 vote in the U.S. Senate to end debate on the nomination of Craig Becker to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) failed 52-33 to reach the 60 votes needed to move forward with his appointment. Becker, a former Service Employees International Union, and AFL-CIO Association General Counsel have stated in the past that the NLRB should strip employees’ election of representatives,” including the right to file objections to union misconduct or challenge the makeup of a proposed bargaining unit.
Supreme Court Eases Campaign Spending Limits
In a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a 20-year-old ruling how much corporations could spend to support or oppose candidates in federal elections. Citing the free-speech right of businesses to participate in the public debate of political issues, the court led corporations are no longer prohibited from using money from their general treasuries to pay for their own campaign ads. However, direct contributions to candidates from corporations and unions are still prohibited.
The ruling does not affect political action committees, but it threatens campaign spending limits imposed by 24 states. President Obama immediately opposed the courts’ decision stating he would work with his administration and Congress to “develop a forceful response.”
Misclassification Bill Introduced in Senate
Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass) introduced legislation that seeks to close a tax code “safe harbor” loophole and make it more difficult for employers to classify workers as independent contractors. Similar to a House bill (H.F> 3408) introduced last summer, the taxpayer responsibility, accountability and consistency Act (S. 2882) would amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to include a provision requiring employers to show a “reasonable basis” for applying for the independent contractor status, or face employment tax liabilities. Also, employers would only be able to classify workers as independent contractors with written documentation from the Internal Revenue Service.
By Joanna Masterson