As a part of the IWLA annual fly-in, IDS joined other warehouse based 3PLs in Washington, DC to hear the latest information on issues affecting the warehouse industry and to meet with Congressional Representatives.
During the two days on the Hill, we heard about the latest efforts of the Department of Labor regarding joint employer status and proposed changes to overtime regulations. Both of these issues hit home in the warehousing industry because of the large numbers of seasonal and temporary workers. There currently is no common definition with the various federal agencies of a joint employer. The administration is working to establish a common definition within all federal agencies that would be based on the traditional control and records tests. The US Chamber together with the International Warehouse Logistics Association (IWLA) is working hard to establish this common definition.
The Department of Labor is in the rulemaking process to set wage threshold for administrative positions to be exempt and to establish workable duties tests that are more appropriate. The IWLA will continue to be supportive of these efforts and intends to submit comments are the proposed rules.
Consistent with the tightness in the broader labor market, it is no surprise that the trucking industry has a significant lack of drivers. With the aging of the industry’s current drivers there is a great need to bring younger individuals into the industry. While many states currently allow individuals between 18 and 21 to drive trucks within their state, the federal law precludes those individuals from crossing state lines. This restriction works to discourage younger individuals from exploring the profession since the higher paying positions are those that can drive interstate. The DriveSAFE Act would allow individuals between 18 – 21 years of age to drive commercial vehicles across state lines and open these positions to those high school graduates who are looking at a vocational occupation rather than a traditional four year college degree program.
Rep. Trey Hollingsworth (R-IN 9th District) and Senator Todd Young (R-IN) are sponsoring the bill in the House and the Senate. IDS representatives met with both Rep. Hollingsworth and Senator Young to show support and discuss ways in which the IWLA could work with them to ensure this legislation is passed in the current Congress. While the highly partisan nature of the current Congress will make passage a challenge. There is some bi-partisan support for the bill and there is a pathway to passage in both Houses of Congress. IDS through its involvement with IWLA, will be working closely with both of our members of Congress to help gain the support necessary to pass this important bill.
One of the biggest discussions was the recent conversations between Democratic Leaders and the President over infrastructure investment. While the trucking industry, the warehouse industry and many others support significant investment in infrastructure, many of those closest to the issue remain highly skeptical that a $2 trillion investment proposal will actually get passed. More importantly there is concern about appropriations for the Highway Trust Fund. The Trust Fund pays for maintenance and construction of the federal highway system. An increase in the appropriations to the Trust Fund is necessary to address immediate and growing need for repairs to our roads and bridges. Many industry groups, including the IWLA, support an increase to the national gas tax as the best way to increase revenue. This tax has not been increased in 25 years but many in Congress are averse to any tax increase which will make any attempt to increase funding for our roads and bridges very difficult. IDS is working with the Indiana Congressional delegation to identify ways that we can be of assistance in providing information about the extreme need for increased funding for the Trust Fund.
Lastly, IDS has been asked to provide input to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency to help better enforce and prevent prohibited products from being shipped direct to the consumer from overseas ecommerce companies. ICE has seen a growing number of prohibited products enter the country through the parcel system which is not screened in the same way as products moving into the country in bulk. IDS is happy to participate with ICE and the parcel carriers to find a workable solution to this important problem.
As we have in the past, IDS will remain active in government affairs in order to remain on top of issues affecting our customers and industry.