Volume 45, Issue 4 - April 2010

Legislation&Legal

Small Glass Shops, Glaziers Share
Concerns Over Healthcare Legislation



With Congress’ passage of sweeping healthcare legislation, glass company owners large and small now are asking how their business will be impacted by the new rules.

When Sen. David Vitter (R - La.) addressed the 2010 Spring Meeting and Legislative Conference of the Window and Door Manufacturers Association, he explained that the law will require that small employers provide healthcare coverage to their employees—or pay a fee of $750 per employee per year to the government. However, the national average for costs of healthcare for small businesses per employee is $6,100, according to Vitter.

“Millions of employees are going to be dumped off coverage they’re reasonably satisfied with,” he said.

A provision that would have required construction companies with annual payrolls valued at more than $250,000 and more than five employees to provide healthcare insurance to their workers was removed from the legislation prior to passage. However, the administration is expected to move the provision through a later legislative vehicle, according to an article in The Hill.

Ed Zaucha, chief executive officer of contract glazing firm APG International, told USGlass, “APG - International (like the majority of union construction companies) provides full health care coverage for its employees. We strongly believe that is the responsible thing to do. No employer, regardless of how small, should be exempt. As an employer, accepting a $750 fine would be a fraction of what we pay for our employee health care coverage,” says Zaucha. “The problem of the uninsured in the United States is pervasive and must be dealt with. We should not have a health care bill with thousands of exceptions. I strongly believe that health care in the United States must be approached similarly to public education and that is that each community has an obligation to make sure that every citizen is covered by a basic healthcare coverage. Like public education, there are individuals who would like something better and, accordingly, they should be permitted to purchase better coverage (just like private education options).”

 

Minnesota Senate Bill Could Amend State’s Law Relating to Window Fall Prevention Devices
A Minnesota senator has introduced legislation that would exempt windows with a sill bottom of more than 22 inches above the finished floor from the state’s law regarding window fall prevention devices. Currently, the code exempts windows in which the bottom of the sill is more than 24 inches above the finished floor.

The bill, introduced by Sen. Linda Berglin (D), would add the following language to the law: The rules shall not apply to windows with a sill bottom of more than 22 inches above the finished floor.

If passed in its current form, the bill also would require the state’s commissioner of labor and industry to amend the state’s building code to comply with the law.

The current law, passed in 2008, addresses window fall prevention devices, including safety screens, hardware, guards and “other devices that comply with the standards established by the commissioner of labor and industry.”

Berglin introduced the bill on March 1. It has been referred to the Senate’s business, industry and jobs committee.



U.S. District Court Denies Summary Judgment on Installer’s Travel Time Claims
A U.S. District Court in Charlottesville, Va., recently ruled that it would not make a partial summary judgment in the case of a glass installer’s suit against his former company, BECCM Co. Inc. (doing business as both Albemarle Glass & Mirror Co. and Virginia Glass Co.), with regard to his travel time claims alleged in the suit. Installer Keith Jackson worked for the company from January 2008 to February 2009 and filed the suit last August, making several claims against both his former employer and BECCM director and president Brent Wright. Among other issues, the suit addressed the topic of travel times for glass installers and whether installers should be compensated for that time in certain instances.

Jackson claimed that, in various instances, he was required to report to the office of the glass shop, pick up a company vehicle and then travel elsewhere to complete a job. At the end of the day, he would then return the vehicle to the office, according to the case. Jackson claims that he should have been compensated for his travel time both to and from the jobsite, though BECCM had advised him the company would compensate him for one leg of the trip each day only—either his time driving to the jobsite or back to the office.

Jackson alleged that this violates the Fair Standards and Labor Act (FSLA) and that the business was “required under the FLSA to compensate Mr. Jackson and the similarly situated employees for their work and travel time at an hourly compensation rate and at time-and-a-half for any and all overtime hours worked …” according to the original suit, filed in August 2009.

BECCM has since filed a counterclaim against Jackson, alleging that he was required to return the vehicle to the business each day because he had previously used the company vehicle “in an unauthorized manner.” Likewise, BECCM claimed that, on the days when Jackson traveled to the office to pick up a company vehicle and had to return it at the end of the day, he had the option of using his own personal vehicle to travel to the jobsite and back, without an additional stop at the office.

Judge Norman Moon wrote in his opinion, “Though BECCM has stated in its answer that it did, in some instances, require plaintiff to return to the corporate office at the end of the workday, that requirement may well have been in place only to the extent that plaintiff chose to partake in the benefit of employer-provided transportation. The pleadings do not make clear that the plaintiff was absolutely required to return to his employer’s office at the end of the day. Rather, the entirety of that requirement may well turn on the employee’s voluntary decision to use an employer-provided vehicle, rather than to use his own transportation.”




USG
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