News and Analysis
In an effort to advance stalled legislation that would protect businesses from COVID-related lawsuits, the Ohio Senate this week amended and approved House Bill 606, which now goes back to the House. The Senate’s action potentially sets up yet another conference committee, unless the House accepts the Senate’s changes. The amended bill was approved 23-6 along partisan lines.
Among the Senate’s changes to HB 606 was the removal of a House-approved, union-driven provision that would have expanded workers’ compensation by shifting the burden of proof to the employer and eliminating an employer’s defenses. As noted in OMA testimony, this would have especially burdened food and beverage manufacturers. Fortunately, the Senate restored the provision to current law, which is working.
The House is not scheduled to return to Columbus until mid-September. The OMA is urging House lawmakers to finish the job soon to provide Ohio businesses with some protection during the recovery. The OMA applauds Senate President Larry Obhof and members of his caucus for taking action on HB 606 before the summer recess. 7/1/2020
OMA Connections Partner RSM reports that its Manufacturing Outlook Index shows “a remarkable rebound of sentiment in the U.S. manufacturing industry.” The RSM index, which anticipates the direction of manufacturing activity, is a composite of six regional Federal Reserve banks’ monthly surveys.
RSM cautions that “while the worst might be behind us, the index remains slightly negative … (and) suggests that a national recovery has yet to materialize. Moreover, damage to the manufacturing sector wrought by pullbacks and shutdowns of business across the economy due to an intensification of the pandemic will appear in the July sentiment and survey data, thus we do urge caution in interpreting the data going forward.” 6/30/2020
Congratulations to OMA member Tendon Manufacturing, which has been named the No. 1 workplace among small companies in Greater Cleveland for 2020, according to Cleveland.com and The Plain Dealer. This is the fourth consecutive year it has been named a top workplace on the publication’s “Top Workplaces” list. 6/29/2020
On July 1, the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) went into effect. It will have a significant impact on manufacturers across North America as they re-analyze their products to determine whether they qualify for duty-free treatment. See OMA Connections Partner Thompson Hine’s analysis of the key changes under the new trade deal, including significant changes for the automotive industry. 7/1/2020
As the July 1 implementation date of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) trade agreement nears, many are approaching it as just a “new NAFTA” without fully understanding key changes. OMA Connections Partner Plante Moran — which says many of its clients have expressed confusion over how the new trade deal will directly impact their business — has published this FAQ page addressing USMCA compliance.
Also, OMA Connections Partner Thompson Hine is offering a free webinar at 2 p.m. (ET) on Wednesday, July 1, titled “Supply Chains: Issue-Spotting, Tips and Best Practices for Maximizing USMCA Benefits.” 6/24/2020
This week, the OMA told members of an Ohio Senate panel that if a harmful workers’ compensation amendment is not stripped from a bill that seeks to protect businesses from COVID-related lawsuits, the provision would plague food and beverage producers — who were specifically targeted by the amendment to House Bill 606, passed in late May.
“The last thing we should do is burden (these manufacturers) with potentially ruinous new costs,” the OMA told lawmakers. Attorney Ann Marie Sferra of OMA general counsel Bricker & Eckler echoed the sentiments on behalf of the Ohio Alliance for Civil Justice.
It’s not too late to take action. The OMA remains hopeful that the Senate will revise the bill and send it back to the House for final approval without the workers’ compensation amendment. 6/25/2020
This week, the Ohio Senate voted 21-10 in favor of House amendments to Senate Bill 4, which provides more than $500 million for school construction projects and public works. The House recently amended the bill to expand Ohio’s prevailing wage law by requiring certain public works to pay union-scale wages.
Traditionally, fiscally conservative Republicans have not favored such prevailing wage mandates; however, Statehouse Republicans this week went along with the House language — and some even championed the proposal, reflecting the influence that labor has on some GOP lawmakers. Watch the floor debate starting at the 24:10 mark. 6/25/2020
Digital transformation, or the industrial internet of things (IIoT), is considered vital to the future of manufacturing. In the U.S., IIoT promises to make manufacturers even more competitive globally. Yet digital transformation has been slow in materializing. Based on its work with manufacturers throughout the world, consulting firm McKinsey & Company has identified six myths about IIoT that are needlessly troubling business leaders. 6/23/2020
On June 16, the OMA board met virtually for its third meeting of 2020. Directors were briefed on recent, coronavirus-related legislative activity, as well as executive actions by the DeWine administration affecting Ohio’s manufacturers. Dr. Ned Hill, professor of economics at The Ohio State University’s John Glenn College of Public Affairs, provided his economic outlook and possible scenarios for recovery.
The board re-elected the following directors to three-year terms:
- Dale Foerster, vice president, Starr Manufacturing, Inc.
- Cathy Lyttle, senior vice president and chief human resources officer, Worthington Industries, Inc.
- Frank Mehwald, president & CEO, Atlantic Tool & Die
- Bob Nelson, senior vice president, Honda of American Mfg., Inc.
- Brent Rosebrook, vice president of finance and administration, PRO-TEC Coating Company, LLC
- William Sopko, president, Sopko & Sons Co., Inc.
- Hunter Wright, senior operations engineer, Ariel Corp.
This week’s meeting marked the last for longtime board member Jim Krimmel, president and CEO at Cleveland-based Zaclon LLC. Jim has been an OMA director for more than 27 years. The OMA is grateful for his many years of committed leadership, including his service as chairman of the OMA board. 6/17/2020
This week, Gov. Mike DeWine announced that Ohio has again become dependent on borrowed federal money to pay for its unemployment insurance (UI) benefits. The state has requested $3.1 billion in borrowing authority to provide UI benefits, which are 100% funded — or repaid — by Ohio employers.
For the time being, there is no interest being charged by the federal government, the governor said. But he noted that Ohio has a “long-term structural problem” with its unemployment system — one that needed to be addressed before COVID-19. This story by The Columbus Dispatch provides an overview of the longstanding problem.
As of June 18, Ohio had paid $4.1 billion to more than 700,000 Ohioans since mid-March. It took seven years to pay off the state’s $3.4 billion loan when the fund went broke in 2008. 6/16/2020