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Fiduciary Rule Would Have Unintended Consequences

Posted by Brad MacDougall on Jan 8, 2020 3:44:10 PM

Thomson.Fiduciary

Brooke Thomson, left, Executive Vice President of Government Affairs at AIM, testifies at a hearing on a proposed “Conduct Standard for Broker-Dealers, Agents, Investment Advisors, and Investment Advisor Representatives impacting the state’s fiduciary conduct standards”

AIM yesterday urged Massachusetts Secretary of State to delay implementation of rules that would require securities brokers to meet fiduciary conduct standards.

“We wish to reiterate our serious concerns regarding this proposal and urge that you delay issuing a final rule making until implementation and evaluation of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Regulation Best Interest (Reg BI). We believe that the proposal is unworkable and could have negative implications for those the proposed rule seeks to protect among other negative impacts to the Massachusetts economy,” AIM Executive Vice President of Government Affairs Brooke Thomson told a public hearing on the issue.

The SEC adopted Reg BI on June 5, 2019, to create a uniform and thoughtful approach to raising the standard of care for broker-dealers while maintaining choice and access for all investors. Reg BI substantially raises the bar from existing suitability standards and adds meaningful new investor protections. It provides significant and material changes to the way brokerage services will be provided and impacts nearly every aspect of a broker-dealer’s operations.

“We would strongly encourage Massachusetts to allow Reg BI to be fully implemented before moving forward with a state-specific fiduciary rule. We believe that once Reg BI is fully operational and the Division and other regulators begin examining for compliance, the Division will find that Massachusetts investors are receiving substantial additional protections while continuing to have access to the numerous choices and opportunities that they have today,” Thomson said.

AIM submitted comments regarding the Secretary of State William Galvin’s preliminary proposal in July 2019.

AIM supports strong and efficient regulation of financial services to ensure a balanced regulatory regime for the industry and investors. These goals, however, cannot be achieved on a state-by-state basis through a patchwork of conflicting state regulations that differ materially with respect to one another as well as to federal regulations.

We are concerned that the Massachusetts proposal will have several unintended consequences, including higher costs for investors, less access to investment options, investor confusion, compliance challenges, and unnecessary costs for state and local government entities.

The impending impact of Reg BI is significant for both businesses and investors. The implementation process will be critical for the industry, investors, and states to achieve new compliance thresholds. The SEC has publicly stated that it will take this time and has committed resources to seek feedback from the public on how to implement the new rule.

We would also observe the following regarding the proposed fiduciary conduct standard and why Massachusetts should allow Reg BI to be fully implemented before proceeding with any rule making:

  • The Proposal would result in higher fees, less access to brokerage services, and does not address cross-border issues. It creates great risk of errors and confusion, along with gaps in advice due to inconsistencies between state and federal rules. Broker-dealers could be prohibited from providing any advice regarding Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs).
  • The Proposal could significantly disrupt the state’s bond market and underwriting process, leading to new costs for governmental entities. As drafted, broker-dealers are required to “avoid conflicts of interest,” which include principal transactions, the process by which a broker-dealer will buy a security from, or sell a security to, the account of a client. This is a frequently used process that controls costs for clients because the broker-dealer does not have to rely on a secondary market to make a transaction. If principal transactions are considered a conflict of interest, financial services firms may be forced to withdraw from the underwriting process or sell bonds in the secondary market.
  • The Proposal creates several problematic conflicts with federal law, such as the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (“ERISA”), in addition to new duties and standards creating confusion in the industry and disrupting investor access to transaction-based financial services. Different standards would significantly increase cost and may either make services unaffordable for some Massachusetts small businesses and residents or require financial institutions to limit or eliminate the availability of their services to a variety of Massachusetts small businesses and residents seeking access to investment and retirement services.
  • The Proposal does not consider Executive Order “EO” 562, to reduce unnecessary regulatory burden. EO 562 invited state and Constitutional officers not covered by the Executive branch to review regulations in light of several factors, especially rules that exceed federal law and rules that may have an “unduly and adverse” impact on citizens and customers of the Commonwealth. We would urge that this proposal be reviewed in light of EO 562 especially Section 3

We believe that investors in Massachusetts would be better served by coordinated and complementary Federal and state regulation than by protracted litigation resulting from over-broad state regulations. We request the Massachusetts Securities Division wait to evaluate the SEC’s Reg BI before proceeding with any rule making.

Please contact Brad MacDougall, Vice President of Government Affairs, bmacdougall@aimnet.org

Topics: Taxation

NLRB Remakes Workplace by Reversing Obama-Era Decisions

Posted by Michael Rudman on Jan 7, 2020 10:30:00 AM

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) under President Donald Trump is remaking the American workplace by methodically undoing key pro-union rulings the board made under former President Barack Obama.

organizedlaborgoodsmallThe rapid reversal in many ways underscores the increasing polarization of the national political debate and the whiplash that employers and unions alike face every time the White House changes hands.

The NLRB, created by the National Labor Relations Act in 1935, is comprised of five members, all appointed by the president.  The chair and two members of the board are traditionally from the president's party. The remaining two members are from the opposition party.

Republican John Ring currently serves as NLRB chair. The other two Republicans on the board are Marvin Kaplan and William Emanuel.  One Democrat seat on the board is vacant and the other is held by Lauren McFerran since December 2017.

NLRB rulings traditionally vacillated from one administration to another in relatively narrow range, reflecting either a pro-employee or pro-employer bias.  The limits began to widen significantly during the Obama-era NLRB as a series of decisions and rule-making initiatives significantly tilted the playing field in favor of expeditious union organizing.

But the new board has issued a steady series of rulings that have effectively undone the Obama-era edicts.  The highlights of these changes include:

Joint Employer Status

Organized labor has long sought to establish a joint employer relationship between franchisors and franchisees.  The reason is simple - locally owned franchisees may not have deep pockets, but parent organizations usually do.  In its long-awaited McDonalds decision, the new board clearly found that the franchisor is not a joint employer with its franchisees.  While final rule making hasn’t been issued in this regard, it is clear franchisors can breathe a sigh of relief.

Micro-Unions

The prior board in its Specialty Healthcare decision made it easy for unions to isolate small, easier-to- organize groups of employees.  The new board has reverted to a broader “community of interest” standard and a clear, three-part test (Boeing Company).  

Workplace Investigations

In a prior decision (Banner Estrella), the board prohibited employers from requiring employees to keep workplace investigations confidential.  The new board has overturned that ruling (Apogee Retail) and provides a more common-sense approach to workplace investigations.

Quickie Elections

The prior board’s rule making in 2014 had the effect of accelerating the union organizing process and hindering employer response to union activity.  The new board rule making: (1) increases most time frames and deadlines by a factor of two; (2) requires that ballots be automatically impounded upon challenge; and (3) allows challenges up front, prior to voting, versus the 2014 approach of ‘let everyone participate and we’ll sort it out later.’

Employer Email

As a result of the NLRB’s 2014 Purple Communications decision, employers could not prohibit employees from accessing company email for union-related communications.  The new board (Caesar’s Entertainment) restores employer rights to prohibit use of its email systems for non-business purposes.

While these rulings are good news for employers, they don’t eliminate the prospect of employees seeking third-party representation.  Fair and equitable treatment of employees, employing supervisors who know how to lead (not manage) and effective workplace communications are the employer’s best tools in making unions unnecessary.

Register for Labor Relations Primer Webinar

 

Topics: Unions, National Labor Relations Board

State Congressional Delegation Backs Trade Deal

Posted by Kristen Rupert on Dec 23, 2019 10:15:25 AM

A majority of Massachusetts members of the US House of Representatives voted last week to approve the United States-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) trade agreement that has been strongly supported by AIM and other business groups.

Members of the Massachusetts delegation voting in favor included US Reps. Richard Neal, Stephen Lynch, Katherine Clark, William Keating, Seth Moulton and Lori Trahan. The US Senate is expected to take up USMCA in early 2020. 

The USMCA was negotiated by the Trump Administration to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). USMCA strengthens and modernizes some intellectual property rules, sets new digital economy standards, expands US manufacturers’ access to Canada and Mexico, ensures that US companies can sell their products duty-free into these markets, eliminates red tape at the border, and levels the playing field by raising standards, prohibiting anti-US discrimination, and strengthening enforcement. 

Canada and Mexico purchase more US-made goods than the next 11 trading partner countries combined. USMCA will help to preserve more than 2 million American manufacturing jobs - at least 15,000 of them in Massachusetts - that rely on trade with Canada and Mexico.

AIM and its 3,500 member employers commend those members of the Congressional delegation who voted for USMCA.

Topics: International Trade, U.S. Congress

Massachusetts Makes Progress on Climate Change

Posted by Robert Rio on Dec 12, 2019 9:14:21 AM

The climate protesters who took to the streets of Boston last week targeted the wrong people.

bostonatnightIf these people really want to impact the climate debate, they should turn their attention outside of a state that is already well on its way to achieving the goals outlined during demonstrations at the State House.

Massachusetts has had a law on the books for more than a decade that mandates an 80 percent reduction in carbon emissions from all sectors (electric generation, transportation and buildings) by 2050. Admittedly that isn’t 100 percent but worrying about whether Massachusetts meets 80 percent or 100 percent misses the larger picture.

There are separate regulations aimed at carbon reduction as well. State policy requires that 80 percent of electricity be generated using carbon free sources by 2050. And new proposed regulations by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection will move that requirement to nearly 100 percent during the same time frame. AIM supports the proposed regulations.

The Baker administration has already finalized contracts for one offshore wind farm and other one is going through the approval process. These developments will leave the region humming with new turbines.

Additionally, a large hydro power project is being routed through Maine to supply about 18 percent of the Massachusetts’ total power. Without hydro power, our transition to carbon-free energy will be delayed for decades because it would take an enormous amount of additional solar or offshore wind to make up for the loss of carbon-free hydro power.

That leaves transportation – which accounts for the largest portion of greenhouse gas emissions - 45 percent and growing.

Governor Baker has been a leader in addressing transportation-based greenhouse gasses and is a visible backer a 12-state (plus the District of Columbia) regional effort to reduce greenhouse gases in the transportation sector known as the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI). AIM has joined with the administration and several environmental groups to support this effort and the governor is always looking for more support.

TCI will establish a regional cap on carbon emissions while auctioning emissions allowances. Proceeds from the TCI fee will be sent back to each participating state improve statewide public transportation and to encourage fuel users to purchase alternative vehicles.

A MassINC poll published yesterday found that a majority of registered voters in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maryland, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Virginia strongly or somewhat support their home state's participation in TCI.

Some states are balking at joining TCI. Perhaps the Boston climate activists could take their message to other state capitals to ensure that this critical multi-state effort gets off the ground.

Declaring victory and moving on is tough, but it is necessary to move on from Massachusetts and concentrate efforts in those areas where the greatest changes should be made. There is lots of commonality. The 3,500 member employers of AIM support national efforts to mitigate climate change.

The best thing for all of us to do is acknowledge our work favorably and let the rest of the nation know it can be done with the right leadership.

Topics: Environment, Energy, Transportation

Business Confidence Steady as Economy Remains Solid

Posted by Christopher Geehern on Dec 10, 2019 7:38:12 AM

The Thanksgiving holiday left Massachusetts employers in a good but cautious mood as business confidence remained steady during November.

BCI.November.2019The Associated Industries of Massachusetts Business Confidence Index (BCI) lost 0.3 points to 60.6 last month, leaving it one point lower than its level of a year ago but three points higher than in January.

The results came during a month when the Massachusetts unemployment rate remained at an historic low of 2.9 percent and employers nationally created a stronger-than-expected 266,000 new jobs. Employers also spent the month trying to make sense of the on-again, off-again trade war with China.

The US economy grew at a deliberate 1.9 percent pace during the third quarter, while the Massachusetts economy contracted by 0.2 percent as employers began to bump up against labor-force constraints.

“The AIM Business Confidence Index has drifted up and down amid a swirl of economic and political uncertainties during 2019, but employers have remained consistently optimistic about their overall prospects,” said Raymond G. Torto, Chair of AIM's Board of Economic Advisors (BEA).

The AIM Index, based on a survey of more than 100 Massachusetts employers, has appeared monthly since July 1991. It is calculated on a 100-point scale, with 50 as neutral; a reading above 50 is positive, while below 50 is negative. The Index reached its historic high of 68.5 on two occasions in 1997-98, and its all-time low of 33.3 in February 2009.

The Index has remained above 50 since October 2013.

Constituent Indicators

The constituent indicators that make up the Business Confidence Index all moved in a narrow range during November.

The Massachusetts Index assessing business conditions within the commonwealth lost 0.8 points to 67.0 while the US Index declined 0.4 points to 59.2. The Massachusetts Index is virtually even with its level of a year ago; the US index has dropped 4.5 points during the past 12 months.

The Future Index, measuring expectations for six months out, gained 0.9 points to 59.5 after surging during October. The Current Index, which assesses overall business conditions at the time of the survey, fell 1.6 points to 61.7, almost a point lower than a year ago.

The Employment Index remained even for the month, leaving it 1.3 points higher for the year, underscoring the capacity issues faced by employers struggling to find qualified workers in a full-employment state economy.

Non-manufacturers (62.2) were slightly more confident than manufacturing companies (59.3), which have been most directly affected by uncertainty surrounding trade policy. Medium-sized companies (61.2) were more optimistic than large companies (60.8) or small companies (59.2). Companies in Eastern Massachusetts (61.2) remained more optimistic than those in the west (59.8).

Barry Bluestone, retired Professor of Public Policy and Urban Affairs at Northeastern University and a BEA member, said Massachusetts policymakers appear ready to address issues such as housing and transportation that will affect the ability of the commonwealth to attract and retain skilled workers.

“The economic future of Massachusetts rests with highly educated and highly skilled people who will maintain the commonwealth’s status as a global center of economic growth and innovation. But those people will not put down roots here if they can’t afford housing or navigate their way to work,” Bluestone said.

The Moderate Middle

AIM President and CEO John R. Regan, also BEA member, said political leaders in Massachusetts continue to show a willingness to collaborate on critical economic problems. He noted that the Baker Administration and the Legislature worked together in November to pass a landmark $1.5 billion public-school funding reform that contained accountability measures sought by business.

“The partisan polarization that characterizes much of our political debate misses the fact that there is a moderate middle in America seeking action on important issues. A study from New Center shows that 43 percent of Americans classify themselves in the political center, compared with 34 percent for the right and 23 percent for the left,” Regan said.

“The results make us optimistic that bipartisan cooperation will continue in Massachusetts on issues such as transportation, health costs and taxation.”
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Topics: AIM Business Confidence Index, Massachusetts economy, Massachusetts employers

A Model Policy for the New Distracted-Driving Law

Posted by Tom Jones on Dec 4, 2019 8:00:00 AM

Gov. Charlie Baker signed An Act Requiring the Hands-Free Use of Mobile Telephones While Driving on November 25. The law takes effect 90 days from the date of the governor’s signature.

Cell Phone in CarThe law may have a significant impact on companies with employees who are on the road with a need to communicate with the home office or customers.

The law does not focus solely on telephones but on "electronic devices." While the statute does not define an electronic device, the presumption will be that any iPhone, smart phone, tablet, GPS system or other electronic gadget that someone may use in a vehicle will be subject to this law.

Violators face new penalties that may include fines, remedial education and insurance premium surcharges.

The law defines hands-free mode to mean that a user engages in a voice communication or receives audio without touching or holding the device. The measure permits drivers to execute a single tap or swipe to activate, deactivate or initiate the hands-free mode feature.

What’s prohibited?

  • No operator of a motor vehicle shall hold a mobile electronic device.
  • No operator of a motor vehicle shall use a mobile electronic device unless the device is being used in hands-free mode.
  • No operator of a motor vehicle shall read or view text, images or video displayed on a mobile electronic device.

What’s permitted?

  • An operator may view a map generated by a navigation system or application on a mobile electronic device that is mounted on or affixed to a vehicle’s windshield, dashboard or center console in a manner that does not impede the operation of the motor vehicle.
  • An operator shall not be considered to be operating a motor vehicle if the vehicle is stationary and not located in a part of the public way intended for travel by a motor vehicle or bicycle.

The law provides for limited exceptions such as the use of a mobile electronic device in response to an emergency. The law defines an emergency as when the vehicle’s operator needed to report that:

  • the vehicle was disabled;
  • medical attention or assistance was required;
  • police intervention, fire department or other emergency services were necessary for the personal safety of the operator or a passenger or to otherwise ensure the safety of the public; or
  • a disabled vehicle or an accident was present on a roadway.

Repeat offenders will face some of the biggest phone bills they have ever seen. The law provides for three levels of fines, remedial education and insurance surcharges.

The fines under this statute are progressive in nature:

  • first offense-$100
  • second offense-$250; and
  • third and subsequent offenses-$500.

An operator who commits a second or subsequent offense shall be required to complete a program selected by the registrar of motor vehicles that encourages a change in driver behavior and attitude about distracted driving. It is likely that if there is any fee associated with attending this class, the cost will be borne by the employee.

The law also provides that if a person commits a third or subsequent offense it will be a surchargeable event against the driver’s insurance.

An operator found to be violating the law the first time will receive a warning up until March 31, 2020. After that, the law will be fully effective.

AIM HR Solutions has developed a model policy for member companies to use. It is available to all handbook subscription service members as part of their annual policy program. Other AIM members interested in receiving a copy of the policy should contact Beth Yohai or Kyle Pardo at 617.262.1180 for more information on the cost of the policy.

AIM members with questions about this or any other HR-related issue may call the AIM Employer Hotline at 1-800-470-6277.

Topics: Employment Law, Transportation

What Is TCI and How Will It Help Improve Transportation?

Posted by Bob Rio on Dec 2, 2019 8:00:00 AM

Massachusetts lawmakers continue to debate the best method of paying to repair and upgrade the state’s overburdened transportation system.

trafficsmallAssociated Industries of Massachusetts and its 3,500 member employers oppose widespread calls to raise the gasoline tax. AIM instead favors a gasoline-fee increase through a nascent multi-state regional cap-and-invest program called the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI).

What is TCI and why is it better than a gas tax?

TCI establishes a regional (currently 12 states plus the District of Columbia) cap on carbon emissions while auctioning emissions allowances. Proceeds from the TCI fee would be sent back to each participating state to incent fuel users not to pay the TCI fee. A gas tax, by contrast, often generates revenue for transportation projects that may not reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Think of TCI as an energy efficiency program for transportation.

Massachusetts has maintained a successful energy efficiency initiative during the past decade for the electric generation and building sectors. Many AIM members have been able to utilize generous incentives to install solar panels or perform energy efficiency upgrades. The electric generation sector is on track to be virtually carbon free by 2050.

Energy efficiency has been a key result of the Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA) signed by Governor Deval Patrick in 2008. GWSA requires an 80 percent reduction in carbon emissions from all sectors of the Massachusetts economy – electric generation, buildings (businesses and residential), and transportation.

Transportation is now the largest generator of carbon emissions, producing nearly 45 percent of the total and increasing as other sectors decrease. The only option for reducing greenhouse gases in the transportation sector is either to ban cars or switch to low-carbon transportation alternatives, including electric vehicles and better and more accessible public transit.

TCI will do this by allowing states to develop programs that encourage the purchase of electric and low-carbon emissions vehicles (fleets, buses, and passenger vehicles and rail) and upgrades to the electric-charging infrastructure. It will also stimulate investments in public transportation (including much-ignored areas outside Boston).

How much will TCI add to the price of a gallon of fuel? The best guess is about 10 cents per gallon, but it’s hard to estimate because prices under TCI will be set at a private auction that won’t begin until 2021 or 2022. The TCI region will establish an overall cap on carbon emissions - there is no set amount as a per-gallon fee.

A gas tax is regressive and anti-competitive since it falls most heavily on people outside developed urban areas who have no option other than to drive. Gas-tax increases drive consumers over the border for cheaper fuel. And it raises money that the Baker administration says the commonwealth does not need now.

If your company uses large amounts of gasoline or diesel fuel, a gas tax or TCI fee could harm you. But you are also the perfect customer for rebates using TCI funds because the programs can make it cost effective to purchase a low- or no-carbon vehicle, just like programs that make it cost-effective to install solar energy or install new equipment.

Governor Charlie Baker, Secretary of Transportation Stephanie Pollack and Secretary of Energy and Environment Katie Theoharides plan to lead a briefing for senior business executives on TCI on December 11 in Boston. CEOs interested in attending should contact AIM for more information.

AIM will work throughout the process to make sure that the right incentives and programs are implemented that will save money for drivers and companies that switch to electric vehicles while reducing greenhouse gases in the transportation sector as the law requires. Those are all things a gas tax won’t do.

Topics: Environment, Sustainability, Transportation

MassMutual CEO Provides Formula for Growth

Posted by Christopher Geehern on Nov 22, 2019 11:32:27 AM

The chief executive of a company creating thousands of jobs in Massachusetts believes the commonwealth can continue to prosper by addressing key issues such as housing, transportation and education.

Roger W. Crandall, President and Chief Executive Officer of Springfield-based MassMutual, told the AIM Executive Forum this morning that Massachusetts benefits from a bi-partisan and balanced public-policy approach to business.

“Massachusetts has the best of everything. It has an unbelievable history. We've had an unbelievable run over the last 10, 15, 20 years and I think we've got another unbelievable 10, 20, 25 years in front of us,” Crandall told an audience of 250 business leaders.

MassMutual, which oversees more than $500 billion in assets, has embarked upon a major expansion in Massachusetts that includes a new, 17-story tower now under construction on the South Boston Waterfront that will accommodate approximately 1,000 employees. The company is also adding 1,500 jobs to its Springfield headquarters.

Crandall said Massachusetts has generally done a good job providing support and resources for business development while maintaining a good quality of life for its residents. One key element of that quality of life is housing, he said, that that is a challenge moving forward.

Moderately priced housing is essential to retaining the talented employees who graduate from the commonwealth’s renowned colleges and universities, Crandall said. The price of housing in Boston has increased by 61 percent during the past decade and the average monthly rent in the city now stands at $2,500.

MassMutual has supported Governor Charlie Baker’s Housing Choice Bill, along with proposals to create a $10 million down-payment assistance program for first-time home buyers. The company separately contributes to Boston Mayor Marty Walsh’s Way Home Fund to provide homeless people with a safe and stable environment in which to rebuild their lives.

“We are supportive of efforts to create more housing,” Crandall said.

On transportation, Crandall said companies cannot afford to lose employees – or fail to attract new ones – because people are unable to get where they need to go. He urged employers to support investment in the MBTA and made an impassioned plea for the development of high-speed east-west rail to connect Boston and Springfield.

The final major issue on MassMutual’s priority list is education. Crandall said Massachusetts must continue to pay attention to maintaining best-in-the-nation educational institutions at all levels that provide young people with the skills that will be needed to drive the innovation economy. He commended the Massachusetts Legislature for passing an education funding bill with strong accountability provisions.

“The future is a future of human capital,” he said.

MassMutual was founded in 1851 when 31 founders pooled together $100,000 to write insurance policies for friends and neighbors. The company now pays out more than $14 million per day in life-insurance, retirement and other benefits to customers.

 

Topics: Massachusetts economy, Education, AIM Executive Forum, Transportation

Education Bill Contains Business-Backed Standards

Posted by Katie Holahan on Nov 21, 2019 11:36:35 AM

The Massachusetts Legislature yesterday approved a $1.5 billion education-funding bill that includes measures supported by the business community allowing the state to hold school districts accountable for how they spend the money.

State House 2015The bill, which now heads to Governor Charlie Baker for his consideration, will align community needs with goals and outcome-based measurements, creating an education system that is responsive to the demands of the future workforce.  AIM has long insisted that preparing students for college and the workforce remain a vital component of the education-funding discussion.

“By requiring school districts to consider how they might best prepare students for both college and careers, and by collecting and reporting on important data metrics, the conference committee report strengthens our ability as a commonwealth to support students as they choose from diverse opportunities after high school,” AIM President and Chief Executive Officer John Regan wrote in a letter to lawmakers this morning.

“Our efforts to enhance students’ economic opportunities should not end at graduation.  There is still much important work to be done to close racial and socio-economic achievement gaps and bring more career-connected learning to Massachusetts schools. Employers across the commonwealth are proud to be part of this continued effort and discussion.” 

The final version of the bill emerged this week from a House-Senate conference committee. The House passed a version in October that included strong accountability measures, but the Senate version omitted some of those measures.

Education matters to Massachusetts employers because the commonwealth’s highly regarded schools provide a competitive advantage over other states and countries. AIM’s member companies, however, have become increasingly concerned that Massachusetts students are graduating from high school without the knowledge and skills they need to enter the workforce or to succeed in college. 

At the same time, businesses report a persistent shortage of qualified candidates to fill open jobs, many of which pay high wages in growing industries. The skills shortage appears to be impeding economic growth and expansion - the state economy contracted modestly during the third quarter because of workforce capacity limits.

AIM applauds the House and a Senate for their passage and urges Governor Baker to sign the education funding bill.

Topics: Education Reform, Education, Workforce Training

Time to Pass the US-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement

Posted by Kristen Rupert on Nov 19, 2019 9:00:00 AM

Associated Industries of Massachusetts and its 3,500 members today urged the United States Congress to approve the new USMCA trade agreement with Canada and Mexico.

international.flagssmallThe reason is simple - Canada and Mexico purchase more US-made goods than the next 11 trading partner countries combined. USMCA will help to preserve more than 2 million American manufacturing jobs - at least 15,000 of them in Massachusetts - that rely on trade with Canada and Mexico.

Time is short for Congress to act. The US House and Senate need to pass the USMCA before year-end.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said Democrats have inched closer to supporting the deal. They have worked to iron out lingering concerns in weeks of talks with the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. 

The USMCA was negotiated by the Trump Administration to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). USMCA strengthens and modernizes intellectual property rules, sets new digital economy standards, expands US manufacturers’ access to Canada and Mexico, ensures that US companies can sell their products duty-free into these markets, eliminates red tape at the border, and levels the playing field by raising standards, prohibiting anti-US discrimination, and strengthening enforcement. 

AIM is in contact with the Massachusetts Congressional delegation to encourage them to pass the USMCA.  Governor Charlie Baker calls the agreement “strong, fair and flexible.”  Among the many products that are traded between Massachusetts and Canada/Mexico are auto parts, medical devices, lab instruments, semiconductors, paper products and aerospace parts. Most of the manufacturing exports from Massachusetts going to Canada and Mexico are produced by small and medium-size businesses.

AIM urges employers to contact their members of Congress to emphasize how important the USMCA is to manufacturing companies in Massachusetts.   Use this link, shared by the National Association of Manufacturers.

Industry associations, individual companies and elected officials across the US encourage an immediate vote on USMCA.  And while the USMCA is serious business, check out this light-hearted take on why USMCA is so important.

Topics: International Trade, U.S. Congress

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