Federal Legislation Issues 2009

Posted on: March 25 2009 | Posted in: Key Issues
I. Re: Legislative Action Summit – Capitol Hill

To keep you apprised of our governmental affairs activities, we provide you with the following:

On Monday, March 16 and Tuesday, March 17, Ted Selogie, Mavis Early and Bill Langkopp participated in the American Hotel & Lodging Association’s (AHLA) Legislative Action Summit in Washington DC and met with congressmen and senators from Louisiana regarding issues of importance to the hotel and lodging industry.

Individual meetings were held with the following:

1. Senator David Vitter – R;
2. Senator Mary Landrieu – D;
3. Congressman Charlie Melancon – R;
4. Congressman Anh “Joseph” Cao – R;
5. Congressman Steve Scalise – R; and
6. Congressman Rodney Alexander – R.

During our meetings with senators and congressmen we primarily addressed two main issues. Our message was essentially the same as AHLA members from around the country who were each meeting with their respective legislators. Following is a summary of the positions on the issues which were presented:

1. Economy and Tourism

In support of:

· Government’s adoption of the U.S. travel industry guidelines for corporate meeting planners.
· Restoring liquidity to the commercial real estate market through debt restructuring and not punishing foreign investment.
· Passing the Travel Promotion Act.

In opposition to:

· Legislation/regulations that stifle legitimate business travel and meetings. This harms the hotel and lodging industry’s 1.8 million employees and will cause economic disruption, reduce job creation and trigger job loses.

2. The “Employee’s Free Choice Act” (EFCA), also known as
“card check”.

In support of:

· Serious discussions on labor law reform.
· Private ballot elections for employees to decide their workplace representation.

In opposition to:

· The undemocratic Employee “Free Choice” Act (EFCA).
· It deprives workers of a private ballot and their ability to approve their own workplace conditions.
· Binding mandatory arbitration imposed by the government, which will result in bureaucrats who have little or no knowledge of the lodging industry determining the terms of a first contract and the competitiveness of thousands of hotels.
· The massive labor negotiatin expenses under EFCA, which will cause small businesses, thetraditional engine of most U.S. job growth, todivert their investments from furthr job creation and economic growth.

Should you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact us.

More in-depth information on these issues may also be found on AHLA’s website at www.ahla.com. Most information on issues addressed at the Legislative Action Summit can be found in the “Govermental Affairs->Legislative” section.

For more information on EFCA “Card Check” go to www.ahla.com/cardcheck.

For More information on “Meetings Mean Business” grassroots effort and letter-writing campaign to Congress organized by U. S. Travel and NOMCVB, go to
http://www.neworleanscvb.com/static/index.cfm?contentID=1136.

The above information may also be found at our website: www.gnohla.com, “Members Only-Key Issues”. Call Natasha at 525-2264 if you do not have your username and password.

Ted Selogie, President

Mavis Early, Executive Director

II. Re: “Meetings Mean Business”

See below for New Orleans Metropolitan and Visitors Bureau and
U. S. Travel’s “Meetings Mean Business” campaign for suggested
letter(s) to Congress, which NOMCVB will gather and mail:

National Initiatives

URGENT – MEETINGS MEAN BUSINESS GRASSROOTS LETTERS
NOW AVAILABLE!
The New Orleans CVB has launched a local grassroots campaign to preserve tourism service jobs and support U.S. Travel’s national Meetings Mean Business campaign.

Click here to download one of five different template letters with an urgent message for our legislators: In our weak economy, the last thing Congress should do is implement policies or spout overheated rhetoric that jeopardizes jobs and the local tax revenue my community depends upon. Please oppose any measure that would unfairly restrict companies’ ability to use meetings, events and incentive travel as a legitimate business tool.

Please urge everyone in your organization to personalize and complete a letter by Friday, March 27th and send it to:

New Orleans CVB
Attention: Kelly Schulz
2020 St. Charles Ave.
New Orleans, LA 70130
Fax: 504-566-5021
Email: kschulz@neworleanscvb.com


The New Orleans CVB will cover postage to send your letter to our Congressional Delegation. Our goal is to send at least 2,500 letters simultaneously and make a huge statement about the importance of meetings to our economy and lives. This effort is absolutely critical, please make your voice heard by sending us a letter today.

A suggested letter from NOMCVB for members:

As a member of the New Orleans Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau, I am writing to express my concern about a disturbing trend that has the potential to inflict significant damage on our local economy in New Orleans, Louisiana. Tourism is the leading industry in our city, employing the largest segment of our population and accounting for approximately $5 billion in economic impact.

Recently, high-profile public companies that received emergency funding from the government have been vilified for using taxpayer dollars on travel for meetings, events and incentive programs. Critics of these companies have mislabeled meetings and events as lavish and unnecessary. As a result, any business that holds meetings or rewards its employees is thinking twice before it devotes resources to travel.

The consequences of a decline in travel for meetings and events are significant, considering that this type of travel creates $101 billion in spending and one million jobs. Every community in the country pays a high price when visitors decline.

But the city of New Orleans truly stands to pay an even higher price, our we continue to recover from Hurricane Katrina’s damaging effects to our industry and our brand, only worsened Hurricanes Gustav and Ike in September 2008.

When business meetings and incentive travel programs are demonized and cancelled, American workers – not CEOs – are the ones who pay the price. Bellmen, maids, wait staff and other hourly wage employees – the backbone of our domestic workforce– are the first to lose their jobs as travel declines.

Meetings and conventions also contribute nearly $16 billion in tax receipts at the federal, state and local level. Given the poor financial situation of America’s cities and states, cuts to the tax base of communities could mean additional cuts to essential public services. This is especially true for New Orleans, where the funds generated from tourism account for nearly one-third of our city’s operating budget.

Travel for meetings, events and incentives is a cost-effective tool that companies use to strengthen business relationships; align and educate employees and customers; and compensate employees for business performance. Even Members of Congress have shared this perspective when reflecting on the benefits of their annual retreats.

In our weak economy, the last thing Congress should do is implement policies or spout overheated rhetoric that jeopardizes jobs and the local tax revenue my community depends upon. I urge you to oppose any measure that would unfairly restrict companies’ ability to use meetings, events and incentive travel as a legitimate business tool.

III. Re: AHLA Card Check update:

FROM AHLA - enewsletters@ahla.com

Compromise on card check proposed

AH&LA Remains Committed to Protecting Worker Rights
EFCA Must Be Removed From Consideration Before Discussion

Washington, D.C., March 23, 2009 - Over the weekend, three large retailers--Starbucks, Costco, and Whole Foods--made news by releasing a conceptual "third way" approach on card check and binding arbitration, the centerpieces of the Employee Free Choice Act.

The companies outlined several principles that sought a guarantee for employees to require a private ballot under all circumstances. However, the principles also mandate employers and unions have access to employees during non-working hours during an organizing election to "make presentations" on whether joining a union is in the best interest of employees and guarantee a fixed time period for elections. The outline did not go into detail about how any of these guidelines would be implemented in the real world. Small lodging industry businesses will be severely impacted under any EFCA or EFCA-like legislation, so any proposal must address the massive new costs that these companies will incur.

AH&LA finds its encouraging that all three companies asserted that this is not a compromise on EFCA. But the companies' proposal, which was released as a statement of principles instead of being moved as a legislative compromise, misses the larger picture. The proposal does not demand that EFCA be completely removed from consideration by Congress. Until EFCA is stricken from consideration, it is difficult to have a serious conversation about labor law reform.

EFCA remains the largest obstacle to any discussions or proposals to alter federal labor law, according to AH&LA. AH&LA remains committed to protecting workers' rights from EFCA, finding that:

· There is no room for compromise on eliminating the right of workers to vote by private ballot in union organizing elections in the workplace.
· The mandatory arbitration provisions of EFCA that would have the government impose workplace conditions without giving employees an opportunity to approve those conditions or employers the ability to appeal them are unacceptable. Depriving employers and employees of the right to approve their own work contracts is not right.
· EFCA's card check and mandatory arbitration will cost American workers their jobs. 600,000 Americans in 2010 alone will lose their jobs if EFCA passes, according to a March 2009 study by economist Dr. Anne Layne-Farrar.

Preserving workers' right to a private ballot is a fundamental right and is the primary motivation for AH&LA and its partners through the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace (CDW) to continue to fight to defeat EFCA. AH&LA and CDW have stated repeatedly they will not compromise on something as fundamentally American as the private ballot.

"This attempt at a compromise only proves what we have been saying for months: There is no way to fix or improve EFCA. It's time to bury it and move on," concluded Marlene Colucci, AH&LA executive vice president for public policy.

AH&LA is urging its members to call their members of Congress and tell them to reject EFCA (H.R. 1409/S. 560). For more information about EFCA and the truth behind why special interests are pushing card check on the American worker, visit www.ahla.com/cardcheck. On this site, fact sheets may be downloaded, a video explaining what card check will do in the workplace can be viewed, and steps are listed for taking action to stop this proposal from becoming law.

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