“The team also has been instrumental in ensuring that lawmakers hear directly from our members by organizing annual fly-ins to D.C.,” Klotz adds. “These fly-ins are a great way for manufacturers to meet face-to-face with their elected officials and to help drive change for the metal forming industry now and in the future.”
Due to COVID-19 and restrictions on visitors to the Capitol, the One Voice team transitioned the annual in-person PMA/NTMA One Voice Legislative Conference to a series of virtual meetings, offering an opportunity for members to share their concerns with legislators from their homes and offices. In 2020 and 2021, the team helped to create 23 Zoom meetings with members of Congress, which included 214 PMA-member participants.
When the pandemic started in the United States, PMA, working with its One Voice advocacy team, immediately took action to help members meet the challenges they were experiencing. PMA created a dedicated webpage (www.pma.org/advocacy/coronavirus.asp) to provide up-to-date information on COVID-19 government actions and guidance, while the advocacy team hosted more than 40 webinars to share the latest information related to essential business operations, COVID-relief efforts and more. The advocacy team also lobbied Congress for COVID-relief measures. Among the team’s most recent successes:
- Increasing Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) limits to $2 million
- Eliminating the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan “necessity questionnaire” for borrowers
- Extending the PPP loan-application deadline
- Extending the Employee Retention Tax Credit.
“The best event I have attended has been the weekly One Voice government-affairs webinars with PMA’s advocacy team,” says Doug Johnson, president of metal former Marion Manufacturing Co., Cheshire, CT, PMA vice chair and treasurer, and PMA chair-elect for 2022. “These meetings have been open to attend to the entire metal forming industry. The information provided week after week, and especially early on in the pandemic, has been vital to me and has helped guide the decisions we continue to make in managing our business. I know that many attendees would not make some business decisions until after they heard from the team. In particular, the guidance on the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) has been very valuable as we now prepare to apply for PPP loan forgiveness. Early on, we were unsure how the program would work, would we qualify, what were the qualifications, the risk, etc. In some cases, we were even ahead of our CPA firm in understanding what was happening. I was able to go to the CPA firm in some cases and explain what I was hearing from our advocacy team, and then ask for the firm’s thoughts from a more knowledgeable perspective. Gaining these extra insights into what is going on in Washington D.C., from a reliable source, has helped me sleep better at night.”
Josh Hopp, president of metal former HK Metalcraft, Lodi, NJ, and a member of the PMA Board of Advisors, concurs, crediting the PMA One Voice advocacy team as being “instrumental at providing timely and applicable information, to help us navigate these odd times. With so much information out there, the One Voice team was able to present us with all of the pertinent facts, week in and week out—paramount to our success.
"The D.C. team is extremely busy, but always takes the time to treat us as individuals,” Hopp continues. “During the height of the pandemic, the team prepared Friday presentations for all PMA members, and then throughout the week fielded calls and emails and successfully solved our individual issues."
Helping to Fortify the Material and Workforce Supply Chains
Also through its One Voice advocacy team, PMA continues to engage with trade policymakers and members of Congress to find ways to increase the supply of steel and other materials. Additionally, as a founding member of the Coalition for American Metal Manufacturers and Users (CAMMU), PMA is actively lobbying to end the Section 232 steel and aluminum tariffs that have been in place since 2018.
Among its successes:
- Suspended, for 5 yr., potential tariffs on European Union (EU) copper-based alloys
- Lobbied the Administration to negotiate lifting the steel tariffs on the EU
- Worked to introduce a U.S. Senate bill to reform the Section 232 tariff process
- Convinced the White House to keep tariffs on Chinese imports injuring PMA members
- Secured language in a bill to support Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms.
Here’s Who’s Leading the Charge
The One Voice team comprises The Franklin Partnership, a bipartisan Washington, D.C.-based government-relations firm, and the Policy Resolution Group at Bracewell. John Guzik, a founding partner of The Franklin Partnership, has more than 30 years of Capitol Hill and campaign experience. Prior to The Franklin Partnership, John served as the chief of staff for Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp; the deputy executive director of the National Republican Congressional Committee, where he was the liaison with the House Republican Leadership; and a top political strategist and fundraiser for the former House Policy Committee chairman.
Another founding partner, Omar Nashashibi, has more than 20 years of experience working with policymakers, politicians and the media. Prior to The Franklin Partnership, Omar worked for the Office of Management and Budget. Earlier in his career, he served as a research assistant at the Institute for Public Accuracy, promoting policy to the media. In 1995, he began his career in Washington, D.C., covering congressional and agency hearings for a nationwide nonprofit publication.
Bracewell partner Paul Nathanson has more than 25 years of experience in strategic communications, with a focus on reputation management, message development and implementation, public policy analysis, media relations, and strategic counseling services.
And working alongside Paul is Caitlin Sickles, a principal with the firm. With more than a decade of experience in strategic communications, Caitlin’s expertise includes branding and positioning, message development and delivery, reputation management, and crisis communications. She also leads PRG’s digital-communications program.
“I met John Guzik in 2002, working on a campaign for a candidate for the Michigan U.S. Congressional District 11,” recalls Wes Smith, president of E&E Manufacturing and past PMA chair. “That was the year President George Bush had the bright idea to enact Section 201 Steel Tariffs, which turned the entire automotive-manufacturing industry on its head. E&E hired Guzik and his partners to lobby against the tariffs, as they were unfairly costing E&E $6 million/yr., mostly in unrecoverable steel increases.
“Guzik and his team knew that by joining forces with PMA, they would partner with an organization with the firepower to fight these politically motivated tariffs,” Smith continues. “The value of the lobbying team, which later evolved into The Franklin Partnership and Bracewell, and One Voice, became obvious to all as we made visits to Capitol Hill, had op-eds published in nationally recognized periodicals and held other lobbing activities. This culminated with PMA getting a seat at the ITC hearings, which resulted in the lifting of the tariffs in December of 2003.”
Afterwards, PMA leadership recognized the need for continued ‘boots-on-the-ground’ representation in D.C., Smith adds, “as well as educating the public in manufacturing issues—as our government impacts our businesses even more than our customers. The Franklin Partnership and Bracewell excel in this mission and are needed more today than ever before.”
Of course, the need for lobbying and for educating the public continues, as evidenced by a much more recent example. Early in 2019, PMA activated its One Voice team as the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) initiated a Section 301 investigation to enforce its rights in sparing copper alloys from a list of products subject to tariffs emanating from a trade dispute between the United States and EU over government subsidies for the aviation industry. Without action by the One Voice team—from the announcement of a threat in May 2019 to a successful resolution in October 2019—tariffs on these imported alloys could have devastated many metal formers due to a lack of a domestic U.S. supply. Ultimately, in February 2020 the USTR released its revisions to the aviation tariffs and, in a victory for the industry, copper alloys were excluded from the list.
“I am most appreciative that, through the efforts of PMA and the One Voice team, we were able to get to the right place, in front of the right people and at the right time,” says Dan Kendall, president of PMA member company ABC Metals. “The speedy support within hours of notification of the tariff threat, through communication with PMA membership and others with the same shared interest, was critical to our initial win.”
Adds Charles Bernard, president of PMA member company Eagle Metals: “Tariffs on copper alloys would have been damaging to my company and other metal formers, and our customers. The One Voice team devised and executed an effective advocacy strategy that helped ensure that our voices were heard by our elected officials and policymakers.”
When it Comes to Workforce Development Challenges
…the One Voice team recently helped secure more than $1 billion for job training and technical education; lobbied Congress for new language in COVID-relief legislation that expanded training funds in the Workforce Investment and Opportunity Act for e-Learning; and lobbied for the creation of industry-recognized apprenticeship programs.
Other successes include:
- Passed the National Apprenticeship Act in the U.S. House
- Filed formal comments on barriers to work-based learning opportunities
- Lobbied to pass the College Transparency Act
- Secured an additional $6 billion for registered apprenticeship expansion
- Included in the appropriations bill a $50-million Perkins Basic State Grant increase
- Helped to secure $386 billion for the Veterans Affairs rapid-retraining program.
“During the past 10 years, I have gotten to know John and Omar at Franklin Partnership, and Paul and Caitlin at Bracewell, and we have developed a great personal and business relationship,” says current PMA chair Troy Turnbull, president of Industrial Innovations. “They have introduced me to a whole different level of politics, and I realized very quickly that there never is a simple solution to our government-related challenges. We rely on the One Voice team to get our messages across to our elected officials, and without their knowledge, connections and persistence, our messages as business owners would never be heard. Advocacy is such an important part of PMA’s mission, on behalf of its members and of the industry.”
Taxes, Regulations Remain Priorities
Taxes and regulations always remain top of mind for the One Voice team, and even though COVID relief has been job one for some time, the team has continued to advocate for tax reform while reducing ineffective regulations. Among its recent work in this area:
- Protected Section 179 equipment expensing
- Started a coalition to protect the deduction for passthrough companies
- Included 4-yr. extension of the R&D Tax Credit in the House bill
- Succeeded in preventing elimination of step-up basis for capital gains
- Opposed an increase in the business tax rates
- Filed comments with OSHA on updating its mechanical power-press standard
- Lobbied to prevent PRO Act union language from becoming law
- Worked with OSHA on an indoor heat-illness prevention rule
- Filed comments opposing changes to EPA’s Benefit Cost Rule.
“Working with the One Voice team has been an education in itself,” shares Gretchen Zierick, president of metal former Zierick Manufacturing, Mt. Kisco, NY, and a former PMA chair. “I've learned how things work in Washington and have no doubt that PMA would have been ineffective at swaying the thoughts and actions of our elected representatives without the team’s help and support.
“Everyone on the team is impressively smart,” Zierick continues. “They reel off facts about pending legislation, as well as every Senator’s or Congressman’s voting record and stand on various issues. In addition, the weekly updates throughout COVID have been invaluable. They’ve kept us up to date on our state’s restrictions, OSHA rules, tariffs and supply-chain issues—so many factors that affect our ability to run our businesses successfully.”
Looking ahead to 2022, the group will work to permanently lift steel and aluminum tariffs on all U.S. allies; prevent tax increases on privately held businesses; lobby to increase funding for apprenticeships and job training; and petition OSHA on rules related to mechanical power presses, lockout/ tagout and the heat index. MF
See also: Precision Metalforming Association