June 2015: Government Affairs

Words: Dan Kamys

‘Flying In’ New Members

Jeff Buczkiewicz

Jeff-BuczkiewiczI am writing this article after just returning home from Washington, D.C., after yet another great Legislative Conference for the Mason Contractors Association of America.  I have been participating and leading these events for many, many years, and I can truly say that this year’s fly-in was the best one yet. We had meetings at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), tours of the Library of Congress and the U.S. Capitol, and more than 120 meetings on Capitol Hill with Members of Congress. We also saw the fruits of our labor before we even left town as Members of Congress took action to cosponsor our bill, the Concrete Masonry Products Research, Education and Promotion Act. We educated Members of Congress on the infeasibility of the proposed rule coming out of OSHA on workplace exposure to crystalline silica. Our members were briefed by The Keelen Group on the upcoming issues in front of Congress, the upcoming Presidential campaign races, and how both will impact our industry. We had our members hitting the pavement and halls of Congress all week, and our voices were definitely heard. But you and I both know that our voices are most impactful when our members are raising theirs. We had members from all over the country join us, but what I was most excited about was the new and young members who joined us this year. Building relationships on Capitol Hill and with Members of Congress in their home districts is paramount to our efforts in Congress, and we need to be constantly adding members from states all over the country and new members who have not been involved in legislative outreach in the past. As our lobbyist, Stephen Borg, constantly tells us, Members of Congress are there to represent you and your businesses, and they cannot represent you if they do not know how the rules and laws implemented by the federal government impact you back home. Without your voice, Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle would not be aware of the technical details of the proposed silica rule out of OSHA, how it is infeasible for our members to implement, and that it would cost nearly $5 billion per year to the construction industry alone. Without our voices, there would be no one telling the story of how silicosis-related deaths have dropped dramatically during the last 50 years as employers have taken steps to protect their workers and educate themselves and their employees on safe workplace practices.  If we are not telling our story, someone else will be “telling our story” for us, and that is not a position in which we want to find ourselves. Take the opportunity to look at our website (www.masoncontractors.org) to see and hear stories from our government relations programs and successes. They would not have been possible without constantly being involved in Washington, D.C., without constantly raising our voice, and without constantly adding more individual voices to our collective industry voice. Thank you again to all those members who took time to join us in Washington, D.C., and I look forward to seeing many new faces next year as we once again take our message to Washington, D.C.
Jeff Buczkiewicz is president and CEO of the Mason Contractors Association of America.
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