During USPOULTRY’s 2021 Human Resources webinar, Marc Freedman, vice president of workplace policy with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, provided a labor update focused on the Department of Labor, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and other Hill activities. Freedman gave an in-depth review of the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, remarking that it is essentially stalled in the Senate. He also discussed the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s campaign against the PRO Act with the launch of its StoptheProAct.com website.
Jim Wimberly, principal at Wimberly, Lawson, Steckel, Schneider & Stine, P.C., gave his perspective of how COVID-19 has impacted poultry industry labor and human resources management. He covered a variety of topics, including the effect of recent executive orders, unresolved issues regarding the OSHA Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) mandating vaccination or regular weekly testing, and long-term planning. During his presentation, Wimberly specifically noted that “OSHA will have the ability to fine noncomplying employers like other regulatory violations, up to $14,000 per serious violation.”
Phil Stroud, vice president of people services at TipTop Poultry, focused his attention on a different labor discussion. He reviewed the “Hope for Returning Citizens” program, which is oriented toward improving worker retention and reducing recidivism among those who have been incarcerated. The program is designed to provide jobs, positive relationships, character, purpose clarity, housing, clothing, food…and ultimately, a career in the poultry industry. Stroud revealed that since the program’s inception in June 2020, there have been two complete, 12-week sessions with 11 total graduates and another class of 10 scheduled to graduate in November 2021. Stroud stated, “This is a complex process involving correcting destructive behavior and coordinating company and community resources.”
A look at “Healthcare Costs and Management Strategies” was provided by Matthew Tritz, senior vice president of health and welfare consulting, at Lockton Companies. He discussed the impact of the pandemic on current health plan costs, what the future holds, and cost containment strategies. Tritz remarked, “During the pandemic, the U.S. saw healthcare costs decrease for the first time since 1960. However, the first half of 2021 is showing a return to non-COVID-related care back toward normal. In addition, there are new cost pressures due to COVID-related services.”
Chris Lauderdale, principal at Jackson Lewis PC, examined compliance considerations for contract and temporary workers. He emphasized the advantages of using a contingent workforce, including the reduction of “non-core” work management; lower cost benefit administration; greater flexibility to staff; and reduced overhead costs. Lauderdale’s presentation included practical points and best practices on how to best meet business needs while navigating risks and challenges.