Klaussner Home Furnishings has made three increases in its workers’ wages over the past 10 months, while also adding benefits. Yet, the company’s ability to invest in workers and add much-needed equipment may be in danger if Congress proceeds with proposed tax hikes, according to President and CEO Terry McNew. These increases could do real harm to manufacturers at a time when the economy is starting to recover from the pandemic.
Benefits for workers: McNew, who has led Klaussner for about a year and a half, explains that he’s working hard to take the company from the 19th century to the 21st century—“skipping over the 20th,” he says—by eliminating the use of piecework and ensuring that all current workers have full 40-hour workweeks.
- That transition included the wage increases mentioned above, as well as an expansion of benefits, such as a reduction in health insurance deductibles and the addition of mental and behavioral health benefits.
- “If taxes go up, I have fewer choices,” says McNew. “I’ll have even more limited resources” for raises and other benefits.
Facility expansion: McNew also credits tax reform with helping Klaussner improve its facilities and buy much-needed equipment.
- Late last year, the company installed new roofs, and it is currently in the market for new sewing machines. Its new CIO is looking to invest in enterprise resource planning and materials requirements planning software, which will cost about $5 million.
- McNew says these plans were made possible by a tax provision called full expensing, which allows companies to deduct the full cost of capital expenditures in a single year.
The economic context: McNew points out that manufacturers are dealing with a number of difficulties right now, including higher materials and shipping costs, which are amplifying their worries about potential tax changes.
- In light of all these factors, McNew says, “I told my executive staff we are not getting raises this year, but instead giving raises to employees.”
The last word: NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons said, “As we emerge from the economic catastrophe caused by COVID-19, American businesses are at a pivotal point in our nation’s history. Manufacturers like Klaussner are helping to lead the economic recovery in the wake of the pandemic. But increasing the tax burden on companies in America would mean fewer American jobs, lower wages and a smaller economy.”
Manufacturing businesses have long been proponents of equality in the workplace. As legislation to codify protections for LGBT individuals passes through the House of Representatives, the National Association of Manufacturers joined the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Business Roundtable, and other members of the business community in advocating its passage, forging coalitions and providing congressional testimony.
Introduced with bipartisan support in the U.S. House and Senate in March, the Equality Act includes federal protections for individuals based on sexual orientation and gender identity under the existing framework of the Civil Rights Act, which already provides protection against discrimination on the basis of religion, national origin, race, color or sex. The goal of the legislation is to ensure that no person can face legal discrimination based on their gender or sexual orientation, setting a clear federal standard to enable individuals to succeed based on their abilities and qualifications to perform a job.
“Employers understand the importance of creating an environment in which the very best people can succeed based on merit,” Patrick Hedren, NAM vice president, labor, legal and regulatory policy, said. “At the same time, manufacturers know that discrimination in any form is antithetical to the values that we work to uphold every day: equality of opportunity, individual liberty, free enterprise and competitiveness.”
In March, more than 40 other industry associations rallied to support the Equality Act, providing an important boost for the groundbreaking legislation. In the weeks since, manufacturing representatives have testified before the House Education and Labor Committee and signed a coalition letter to the House Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Human Services calling for the Act’s passage. As Congress considers the way forward, manufacturers have made clear that they intend to advocate forcefully on behalf of the legislation and uphold their commitment to workers of every gender identity and sexual orientation.
“The Equality Act creates a clear federal standard that matches the sentiments manufacturers already share: gender identity and sexual orientation have no impact on an employee’s abilities and discrimination is not welcome on the manufacturing floor,” Hedren said. “We look forward to working with Congress as this important legislation moves ahead.”
Washington, D.C. – National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) President and CEO Jay Timmons released the following statement after the Department of Labor (DOL) rescinded the 2016 Persuader Rule:
Manufacturers have fought for this victory for many years in the courts, in Congress and with two administrations, using the full weight of our policy, government relations and legal teams, said Timmons. The NAM’s Manufacturers’ Center for Legal Action was able to halt the rule in court in 2016.And in 2017, the Trump administration, as part of its broader regulatory relief agenda, thankfully began the process of unwinding the rule. This overreaching rule threatened to impose serious burdens on manufacturers and upend employee–employer communications. Now manufacturers are relieved that this threat to workplace communications is finally and officially off the books. Commonsense steps like this to rein in onerous regulations are a major reason why manufacturers are reporting record-high business optimism.
The Manufacturers’ Center for Legal Action (MCLA) is the leading voice of manufacturers in the courts and engages in a range of activities, including direct party litigation and operating a robust amicus program, as well as educating manufacturers about emerging legal trends. The MCLA is led by NAM Senior Vice President and General Counsel Linda Kelly and NAM Vice President of Litigation and Deputy General Counsel Peter Tolsdorf. More information on the MCLA can be found here.
The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) is the largest manufacturing association in the United States, representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states. Manufacturing employs more than 12 million men and women, contributes $2.25 trillion to the U.S. economy annually, has the largest economic impact of any major sector and accounts for more than three-quarters of private-sector research and development. The NAM is the powerful voice of the manufacturing community and the leading advocate for a policy agenda that helps manufacturers compete in the global economy and create jobs across the United States. For more information about the Manufacturers or to follow us on Shopfloor, Twitter and Facebook, please visit www.nam.org.