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					Congress and the Card Check Bill—You Can Make a Difference

Last week’s Textile Rental Weekly reported the introduction of the
Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) union-organizing bill before the
Senate. This came on the heels of the March 1 passage in the U.S.
House of the same bill that would let unions quickly organize companies
through signed authorization cards, rather than secret-ballot elections.

Where do we stand now? President George W. Bush has promised to
veto the bill, and Senate Republicans likely will engage in delaying tactics
both in committee and on the Senate floor to keep it from coming to a
vote. The Democrats and a small number of Republican supporters are
probably short of the 60 votes they need to force a vote on Card Check.

Why should you care? This bill may not become law anyway, right?
Wrong! Like business, politics is a game of short- and long-term
strategies. The Democrats have won a short-term victory—this is the
farthest EFCA has ever moved toward enactment. It still faces hurdles,
but what if the Democrats prevail in next year’s presidential poll and win a
few more Senate seats? These are possibilities you must take seriously.
If you don’t want mass unionization of the textile service industry—even in
cases where large numbers of employees oppose such a move—you
need to get in the game now, while there’s time to win the long-term battle
against EFCA.

You can begin by coming to the nation’s capital this May 7-8 to meet with
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lawmakers during TRSA’s 2 annual March on Washington. These
Members of Congress need to hear of your concerns about EFCA. You
can remind them of how EFCA will stack the deck in favor of unions in
ways that could gut your ability to compete in today’s markets. For
example, under EFCA, if a company and a union are unable to agree on a
first contract within 90 days, either party can send the dispute to the
Federal Mediation Conciliation Service for mediation. If no agreement is
reached within 30 days, the agency can force both parties into binding
arbitration.

Do Members of Congress care that this bill might force you into
bankruptcy or to sell your business? You bet they do—especially the
freshman cohort elected last year in majority-Republican or conservative
districts. Many of these Democrats ran on pro-business platforms. Some
reluctantly endorsed card check due to union lobbying. As constituents,
you’re the best hope of convincing them that supporting jobs at home
beats bowing to union pressure. But you can’t start that process unless
they hear from you—ideally face to face. Speaking out to Congress on
policies that could undermine or enhance the industry’s growth is what the
March on Washington is all about. If you’d like to register, or need more
information, call Roger Cocivera at 877/770-9274 or e-mail him at
rcocivera@trsa.org,
VA Should Focus on Veteran Care - Not Doing Laundry

By Roger Cocivera

We’ve all heard the disturbing news of late about trouble at the
Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Most notorious among these is the
case of Building 18 at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where
returning service members injured in Iraq and Afghanistan had to endure
mold- and rodent-infested quarters, while they were receiving treatment
and rehabilitation.

But the debate has now grown beyond this one instance. Instead, the
focus has shifted to the quality of care these brave men and women are
getting from the federal government. Members of Congress are holding
investigations, and the VA is in the spotlight. With military conflicts raging
in the Middle East, this issue isn’t going away any time soon. The VA
needs to focus its resources on patient care. One way it can do that and
save money at the same time is by letting U.S. businesses provide
services not directly related to healthcare that the VA is currently doing for
itself.

Competitive sourcing – the practice of seeking bids from the private
sector for work the government currently is doing – would put millions of
dollars back into the VA healthcare system in order to directly help
veterans get the medical care they need. According to an Office of Budget
and Management (OMB) study in 2000, a competitive sourcing program
at the VA would save the government $1.3 billion in 10 years. In 2004,
OMB said competitive sourcing throughout the federal government would
save $20 for every $1 that was spent on bidding out the work. But at the
VA, those statistics don’t matter. Why? Because according to the VA,
federal law prohibits the agency from competitive sourcing, unless
Congress directs the agency to get bids on a specific service. This
bureaucratic response is costing the U.S. taxpayers millions, and,
unfortunately now, is undermining efforts to get veterans the healthcare
they have earned.

In VA hospital laundries alone, a 1999 government report estimates that
the VA could save $2 million per year by closing 13 laundries. The report
also said that the VA could save another $9 million on first-time costs for
equipment and building renovation. Today, TRSA estimates that the VA
could reduce operational cost by a minimum of 15%, reduce linen costs
by 20% and eliminate the much-needed requirement for capital
improvements over the next 10 years that are equal to more than $70
million. The government could reinvest these dollars into the VA
healthcare system for patient care, if only Congress would approve a law
repealing the VA’s restriction on competitive sourcing.

TRSA has worked throughout this decade to make that law a reality. We
also have challenged the VA when they propose to build or upgrade an
existing laundry rather than outsourcing. In these instances where TRSA
has convinced VA not to upgrade its laundry, textile maintenance services
were outsourced and TRSA members are proving that our industry can do
the work more cost effectively than the government. I urge all TRSA
members to write to their Member of Congress and come to TRSA’s
March on Washington to meet them in person and urge them to pass this
common-sense legislation that will benefit America’s veterans.

Competitive sourcing isn’t just an issue for TRSA and its members. If our
industry alone can save the VA $5-$10 million a year, imagine how much
could be saved by competitive sourcing throughout the department? Talk
to your fellow business leaders back home, write a letter to your local
newspaper or just tell a friend and let them know that there is a way they
can help get more money for veterans’ care in their communities. By
contacting their U.S. representative and senators and asking for
competitive sourcing at the VA, they can make a difference for our
veterans who have sacrificed so much for all of us.

While the VA is now under a microscope, it’s important to note that the VA
does have some of the world’s best medical personnel and services. They
can, given adequate resources, provide excellent care to our service
members coming back from conflicts around the world. Competitive
sourcing would give the VA more money to do what it does best, that is
providing top-rank medical care to our veterans, and not worrying about
doing laundry.

Roger Cocivera is president and CEO of TRSA.

Congress One Step Closer to Increasing Federal Minimum Wage

The nearly 2-month impasse between the House and Senate centering on
each chamber’s version of legislation to increase the federal minimum
wage could be nearing an end. On March 23, the House of
Representatives passed H.R. 1591, a bill to provide funding for the
ongoing conflicts in both Iraq and Afghanistan. The legislation also
included a provision to raise the minimum wage to $7.25/hr by Jan. 1,
2009, and provide tax breaks to small businesses to help them cope with
a increased labor costs. Previously, House Democratic leaders have
refused to include any offsetting benefits for businesses in a bill to
increase the federal minimum wage.

While Congress continues to debate the issue of increasing the federal
minimum wage, individual states continue to take matters into their own
hands. In the last two weeks, the governors of Kentucky and New Mexico
signed into law legislation to increase their states’ minimum wage rates.
On March 22, Kentucky Governor Ernie Fletcher (R) signed H.B. 305 into
law. This legislation would increase the state’s minimum wage to $5.85/hr
on July 1, 2007. The law calls for the minimum wage to increase again to
$6.55/hr on Jan. 1, 2008, and to rise once more to $7.25/hr on Jan. 1,
2009. On March 23, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson (D) signed
S.B. 342 into law. That bill will raise the state minimum wage rate to
$6.50/hr on Jan. 1, 2008 and again to $7.50/hr on Jan 1, 2009.


Faultless Earns Gold Awards for Being ‘Green’

Faultless Laundry Co., Kansas City, MO, recently received four Gold
Industrial Wastewater Pretreatment Compliance Awards from the
Missouri Water Environment Association (MWEA), a statewide group of
some 720 sewage agencies, industrial and consulting firms.

“We’re very conscientious about the quality of our plant’s wastewater,”
said Faultless Linen President and CEO Susan Witcher, regarding the
awards given for all four of the company’s Missouri linen plants. “We live
and work in these communities and want to be eco-friendly. Although
we’re proud of the awards, we would strive to reach the appropriate
discharge levels simply because it’s the right thing to go.”
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Faultless was one of only five laundries recognized at the MWEA’s 78
Annual Meeting on March 25-28 in Osage Beach, MO. Faultless’ Brooklyn
and Broadway plants in Kansas City picked up their fourth and third
consecutive Gold Awards, respectively.

Winners of the Gold Award must comply fully with all wastewater
discharge and reporting requirements, according to a news release. They
also must have an industrial wastewater treatment facility, or pollution-
prevention program, and they must have a history of good relations with
the nominating city or sewer district. Faultless Linen was nominated for
these awards by the pretreatment coordinators of their local municipalities
(MSD-Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District and the Waste Water Division
of the Kansas City, MO, Water Services Dept.).

The MWEA is dedicated to preserving, protecting and improving the
quality of Missouri’s water environment by providing a forum for education
and information exchanges that promote sound environmental policy,
while at the same time building alliances among all people interested in
the water environment.

Senate Pledges Support to Small Business Healthcare Pooling

The U.S. Senate has unanimously approved a bipartisan amendment to
the budget bill which creates a foundation to allow for market-based,
small business healthcare pooling across state lines to be permitted in
future health-insurance proposals. TRSA has long supported the
Coalition Supporting Access & Choice Through Small Business Health
Plans (SBHP Coalition), a group that was instrumental in getting the
amendment passed. According to SBHP Coalition Chair Amanda Austin,
the “amendment lays the financial foundation to support market-based,
small-business pooling arrangements across state lines. This amendment
helps pave the way for comprehensive health insurance reform that our
nation’s small businesses so badly need.”

For years, TRSA has advocated in favor of legislation that would allow
employers to band together across state lines through Association
Healthcare Plans (AHPs) or Small Business Healthcare Plans (SBHPs)
when purchasing healthcare insurance. In doing so, employers could
increase their purchasing power, while improving their employees’ access
to coverage and reducing overall healthcare costs. SBHPs will have a
win-win affect on small businesses because this mechanism would allow
them to spread their risk, reduce costs, expand access and improve the
quality of healthcare they offer to their employees.


LaundryESP Data Drive—Nearly 60 Plants Have Filed

LaundryESP® members have responded to TRSA/UTSA’s request for
new data, but more effort is needed to get all LaundryESP-registered
plants to report by the April 15 deadline.

The latest figures show that 30 companies have filed new numbers on
2003-’06 production data for 57 plants. Both associations urge companies
to keep pushing to get more of these numbers in this deadline that arrives
this Sunday.

LaundryESP was launched in 1999 as an alternative to categoricals
regulation by EPA. Since the program began, textile service companies
have reduced pollutant discharges by 40%, cut water use by 12.6% and
lowered energy consumption by 11%. With the proliferation of high-
efficiency equipment, we expect the industry’s results to be even better
during this survey period. But we won’t know unless companies file their
data. Please, notify your plant managers to collect this information and
forward it as soon as possible, you haven’t done so already. Remember—
LaundryESP is your best defense against having the government force
costly and unworkable regulations on the industry. But it can only work
with your cooperation and active support.

If you have questions about the data-collection process, or need
information about joining LaundryESP, please contact TRSA’s Director of
Environmental Affairs Bob Schaffer at rschaffer@trsa.org or 877/770-
9274.

TRSA Expands Performance Report to Include Management
Compensation

The association’s comprehensive Industry Performance Report, which
contains benchmarking data for all aspects of a textile service business, is
becoming even more valuable in 2007 with the addition of management
compensation data collection. The 2007 edition, which we’ve renamed the
Industry Performance and Management Compensation Report, will be
available in September.

Textile service members again have the opportunity to get a free copy of
this report. Last week, TRSA mailed the data-collection survey to the
corporate office of each textile service members. As in the past, TRSA
won’t see any company’s individual data; a third party processor will
develop the report. Please take a moment to look for this important survey
and return it to the MacKay Research Group by July 30 in order to get a
free copy of the Report and an individual analysis benchmarking your
business against the industry – a $1,000 retail value.

The Report allows textile service operators to benchmark on balance
sheet and income statement categories. It also provides benchmarking
statistics specifically for linen supply, healthcare and mixed plant
operations as well as for single and multiple plant companies.

For the first time, the Industry Performance Survey will include questions
about management compensation. Previously, TRSA collected this data
with a separate survey and published it under a separate title. But now by
collecting this data with the Industry Performance Report, members have
one less survey to complete. Moreover, the product they will receive for
their participation will be more valuable. The new report will provide
industry salary statistics and incentive potential (as a percentage of
salary) for all levels of corporate management as well as for sales
representatives.

The 2006 Industry Performance Report is available now in TRSA Online’s
bookstore or by calling TRSA at 877/770-9274.

For more information or a copy of the survey, contact George Ferencz at
gferencz@trsa.org or 877/770-9274.

				
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