Fellow DE SHRM Chapter board member John McDowell and I met with Andrew Dinsmore, assistant to Senator Chris Coons (D-DE), and James Paoli, DE State Director, in Senator Coons’ Wilmington, Delaware, office last month.
We kicked off the meeting by providing background information about SHRM using SHRM’s State of Delaware one-pager as a leave-behind. We highlighted the number of SHRM members worldwide, and in the two local chapters in Delaware, calling special attention to the fact that 90% of DE SHRM members work and/or live in Delaware. By profiling the activities of our chapters - such as monthly meetings, community events/support, the Delaware annual state HR conference and the certification credentials held by many of our members, we established SHRM’s credibility and set the stage for the legislative agenda.
We asked our hosts to pass on SHRM’s thanks to Senator Coons for his support of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, while highlighting the key improvements from current law.
Next, we provided a broad overview of the complexities of complying with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to effectively lobby about the pending legislation affecting federal contractors and changes to the FLSA. Our discussion brought to light that both the Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) Amendment and the July 31 Executive Order by President Obama are backward-looking, and, effectively, would punish federal contractors twice, given the existing penalties and debarment procedures which are already in place. We asked that Senator Coons raise these issues to best address federal contactor compliance with FLSA. In addition, at Andrew’s request, we also provided follow-up information later that week - specifics on federal contractor legislation, based on additional research of a 2011 report from the Government Accountability Office and Senator Tom Harkin’s (D-IA) 2013 study.
Finally, we discussed the potential changes to FLSA in conjunction with President Obama’s March directive to the Department of Labor (DOL). Our ask was that Senator Coons consider SHRM’s expertise and the importance of HR professionals’ involvement in improving this regulation which greatly impacts employers and employees. We expressed our interest in meeting with Senator Coons to review the pending changes to FLSA we expect to be released in November.
For John and me, the agenda included more than just seeking support for HR legislation: We also wanted to establish a connection for SHRM to provide resources for Senator Coons and his staff for HR matters impacting the nation and the state. Given that Andrew and James expressed a desire to partner with the DE SHRM Chapter on offering job hunter workshops at the various job fairs Senator Coons supports in the state, it seems we’ve made great progress in achieving this goal during just a one hour meeting! We’ve already been in contact with Latisha L. Bracy, who is the Director, Outreach & Special Projects, for Senator Coons, and look forward to developing this partnership for Delaware job fairs. We commemorated the meeting with a group photo taken in Senator Coon’s office.
Julia Orescan, CCP, SPHR
SHRM A-Team Member
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