Dalton—As part of an ongoing effort to ensure that members are represented and heard in Washington, DC, the World Floor Covering Association (WFCA) and its solid team of lobbyists are actively and regularly advocating on behalf of flooring dealers and contractors across the country.
Scott Humphrey, CEO, WFCA; Jeffrey King, general counsel, WFCA; and Lobbyit, the association’s retained lobbying group, regularly meet with U.S. senators and representatives, their staffs and various regulatory agencies to advocate for the professional flooring dealer and contractor. As part of these efforts, the team regularly submits comments, data and suggestions on proposed legislation and regulations that impact its members. The group also works on a local level reviewing and advocating on proposed legislation and regulations in all 50 states.
Following is an update on some of the key activities and proposals Humphrey, King and Lobbyit have been focused on in 2018:
Remote sales tax collection: As internet sales of flooring have steadily risen, WFCA has continued to advocate that internet sellers be required to collect sales tax just as local brick-and-mortar stores do as part of their effort to “level the playing field.” WFCA’s lobbying team has met multiple times with House and Senate offices to discuss the need to enforce the same rules on both traditional main street businesses as well as online-only retailers.
In addition, the WFCA submitted a brief before the U.S. Supreme Court supporting the right of states to require the collection of sales taxes by remote sellers. The Supreme Court ultimately ruled that states can require such remote internet sellers to collect sales tax too.
Overtime for Managers: WFCA continues to work on behalf of members to protect them from legislation and regulations that can affect their company’s bottom line. This work includes recent adjustments made by the Department of Labor regarding overtime pay for managers. The Department of Labor proposed to dramatically increase the salary level that would require overtime pay to many management level staff. WFCA opposed the increase and the Department of Labor significantly lowered the amount. WFCA continues to work to have the Department of Labor consider further lowering the salary threshold to a more reasonable amount and recently submitted comments to the Department on a proposed lower salary level. In September, WFCA will again present its concerns on the issue to a group of Department of Labor officials at various local “listening sessions” across the country.
WFCA also continues to work on behalf of members regarding proposed legislation that allows employers to offer employees comp time instead of overtime. Currently, federal law prohibits comp time. WFCA anticipates pushing for such legislation in 2019.
Tariffs: In response to the Department of Commerce’s announcement about new tariffs on product imported from China, WFCA conducted a survey to determine the impact on its members. While many manufactures oppose the tariffs, the majority of our members do not oppose the tariffs, recognizing that the tariffs will be the same for everyone, and only those retailers that sell primarily Chinese imports, such as the big boxes, will be significantly impacted. Accordingly, WFCAwill not oppose the tariffs.
Independent contractors: The issue of using “independent contractors” has been a major concern for the flooring dealer and contractor, with agencies applying different and inconsistent standards. WFCA has taken a number of steps to address this issue. First, WFCA submitted comments to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in a case involving independent contractors. As part of that case, the NLRB was investigating whether a misclassification of employees as independent contractors constituted a violation of the National Labor Relations Act. WFCA’s comments argued that such a proposed change would be extremely detrimental to the business models of a number of industries, including the floor covering industry.
Second, a recent bill labeled “The Payroll Fraud Prevention Act (H.R. 6189),” was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. The bill would require notices to subcontractors and their employees of the benefits of being an employee that likely would encourage them to challenge their classification as an independent contractor. WFCA is actively opposing this proposed legislation.
Third, WFCA has advocated for a single independent contractor standard for all federal agencies that would eliminate the inconsistencies and create a safe harbor if a company’s actions are consistent with industry practices, such as the current practice of flooring retailers and contractors using independent installers. WFCA advocates for a sensible standard at virtually every meeting with Congress.
What’s next? WFCA and Lobbyit will continue their efforts to advocate on behalf of members. The Association welcomes constituents to connect, identify and discuss issues that they believe need to be addressed. To find out more, visit wfca.org/page/current-legislative-action