Vermont Retail Lumber Dealers Association (VRLDA)
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Vermont dealers outline legislative priorities

BY HBSDealer Staff

The Vermont Retail Lumber Dealers Association (VRLDA) has announced its legislative priorities for 2018.

Key points include exempting materialmen from retainage and reducing regulatory burdens and mandates. The announcement came at the VRLDA’s annual Lobby Day at the Capitol Plaza in Montpelier, Vt.

“Our members provide materials to private and publicly funded building projects, including roads, bridges, hospitals, and other projects,” said Josh Druke, chair of VRLDA’s legislative committee. “Retainage is being used in a greater number of construction projects, placing more of a burden on independently-owned and operated building material dealers.”

Retainage represents a pre-approved amount of a contract that is withheld until the work is substantially complete in order to ensure that the contractor or subcontractor will satisfy its obligations to the project. “When lumber and building material dealers deliver a product, this represents the completion of our contract and as materialmen, we should be exempt from retainage,” Druke explained.

Small businesses face numerous challenges that they must deal with every day, including regulatory burdens. New regulations are forcing businesses to spend more time and money on compliance instead of being able to grow their businesses, hire more employees, and provide more for the local and state economy, the VRLDA said.

“Many of the new regulations have layers of reporting and compliance included in them, even though it often covers a benefit that these businesses already provide to recruit quality workers,” said Jeff Keller, director of legislative affairs at the Northeastern Retail Lumber Association. “While the benefit hasn’t changed, the amount of time and cost required to comply with that offering still increases. These factors need to be considered before the legislature enacts more laws that include extensive regulatory compliance.”

The VRLDA is also asking that legislators consider the impacts that repealing the small business exemption and expanding paid leave as well as an across the board increase to minimum wage would have on these small businesses.

“While most VRLDA members already pay their employees well above the minimum wage, a dramatic increase such as this would drive up costs across the board and discourage the hiring and training of new employees,” said Keller. “Any increase in the minimum wage should take into consideration the need for provisions for seasonal or temporary employees as well as include provisions for a youth and training wage to allow small businesses to hire new employees and train them without shouldering such a financial burden.”

Roughly 90% of Vermont employers have 20 or fewer employees and those employers are responsible for over 30% of private sector jobs and wages.

The VRLDA has 46 member locations and represents independent lumber and building material dealers, manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors, and other associated businesses in the state of Vermont. The lumber and building material industry creates more than 7,000 jobs in Vermont, directly employs over 1,300 Vermont residents, and collects over $12,000,000 in sales tax revenue for the state, according to the VRLDA.

 

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Readers Respond: After-hours e-mail

BY HBSDealer Staff

Proponents of a New York City proposal to limit boss-to-employee after-hours email say the measure will promote work-life balance. The bill would make it illegal for companies to require employees to check their e-mail after hours. It will remove stress from the workforce, proponents say.

That depends on the job, readers say.

The most recent poll question at HBSDealer.com asked for readers opinions on the New York City proposal. The question asked “what’s your take?” on the proposal that could lead to fines for companies that require e-mail communications after hours.

Here are the results:

  • It depends on the nature of the job — 50.3%
  • Love it. Too many work e-mails are taking a toll on employee’s psyche — 25.2%
  • Hate it. Communication is essential in today’s business environment — 24.5%

More than 150 readers participated in the poll.

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Small employment gains in March

BY HBSDealer Staff

Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 103,000 jobs in March, and the unemployment rate remained unchanged at 4.1% for the sixth consecutive month, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today.

This compares to job growth of 326,000 in February, revised from an original estimate of a 313,000 increase.

Construction employment fell by 15,000 in March after a gain of 65,000 in February.

Retail trade employment was down 4,000 after increasing by 47,000 in February. Employment declined by 13,000 in general merchandise stores, offsetting a gain of the same size in February.

Manufacturing employment rose by 22,000, with all of the gain in the durable goods component. Employment in fabricated metal products increased over the month by 9,000. Over the year, manufacturing has added 232,000 jobs; the durable goods component accounted for about three-fourths of the jobs added.

Employment changed little over the month in other major industries, including wholesale trade, transportation and warehousing, information, financial activities, leisure and hospitality, and government.

The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls was unchanged at 34.5 hours in March. In manufacturing, the workweek edged down by 0.1 hour to 40.9 hours; overtime edged down by 0.1 hour to 3.6 hours.

Average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 8 cents to $26.82 in March. Over the year, average hourly earnings have increased by 71 cents, or 2.7%. Average hourly earnings for private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees increased by 4 cents to $22.42 in March.

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