“Human resources and the workforce are the cornerstone of our business,” said Jack Kelly, director of government affairs with Perdue Farms, while speaking at the 2014 Human Resources Seminar in Hilton Head Island, S.C., sponsored by U.S. Poultry & Egg Association. Kelly remarked that in the long term, public policy has always been and will continue to be driven by human resources issues.
Recalling his first appearance before this group, repetitive motion disorders were a major problem facing the industry, and human resources professionals within the industry led the development of improved work patterns and the introduction of machinery to reduce the risk to employees. Today, issues such as union representation and immigration reform are front and center, and human resources continues to lead the charge by constantly improving the workplace.
Kelly also provided an inside look at Washington, citing the gridlock in Congress which led to the Republicans being blamed for last year’s government shutdown and sequester followed immediately by the Democratic party’s fumbling of the rollout of the Affordable Care Act.
Tamar Jacoby, president and CEO of ImmigrationWorks USA, updated attendees on the status of immigration reform. While on the surface any meaningful reform appears dead for this session of Congress, there is some activity brewing as Republicans recently outlined their basic principles for immigration reform and spoke in terms of not if, but when, these reforms must be implemented.
Chris Lauderdale of Jackson Lewis P.C., in a presentation titled The Reinvention of Labor Law and the Labor Movement, discussed the union’s growing use of ministerial and immigrant associations, politicians and activist groups to spread the message that unions are needed to protect worker rights. Lauderdale provided valuable guidance on the importance of listening to employee complaints, being a willing release valve for employees to vent and then providing a response so employees understand they have been heard even if workplace changes they seek cannot be implemented.Reflecting the continuing evolution of human resources practices to more and more regulatory compliance, speakers throughout the seminar addressed such issues as OSHA’s increasing reliance upon sub-regulatory means to effectively rewrite standards without going through the established procedures of rulemaking, the latest changes in the Affordable Care Act impacting employers and Wage and Hour and EEOC enforcement activities.