WASHINGTON - "The increase in steel prices is here to stay," commented Laurence Schor, an attorney with McManus, Schor, Asmar & Darden, during a special session for contractors on Capitol Hill. "Contractors should factor in the price increase forever."

He made the comments while addressing members of the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors' National Association (SMACNA), Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA), and union contractors who came to speak with legislators recently.

More than 225 contractors met with legislators and their staffs from 32 states during 175 scheduled meetings. Topics on their agenda, said SMACNA, also included relief for multiemployer pension plans, protection of prevailing wage, and permanent repeal of the estate tax.

Regarding multiemployer pension relief, attendees learned that "many legislators know only the bare minimum about the unionized construction industry," said the association. It was up to the contractors to teach legislators and their staffs about the operation of multiemployer groups in the construction industry. During their one-on-one meetings, contractors described the nuts and bolts of collective bargaining agreements, specialty training, and pension benefit administration.

This conference's co-sponsors included SMACNA, MCAA, the Finishing Contractors Association (FCA), Association of Union Constructors (NEA), and National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA).

While discussing leasehold depreciation legislation, Rep. Nancy Johnson (R-Conn.) encouraged the contractors to be straightforward during their meetings with legislators. "Speak up for common sense," she advised. "It's terribly important that you take part in politics - that you be part of the public discussion."

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), a co-sponsor of the unfair utility competition legislation, commented that "small businesses are the heart of the economy. I will stay with you and make sure ... contractors aren't victims of unfair competition."

Publication date: 06/28/2004