ASAE's American Associations Day attracted a sellout crowd from across the country, to speak to their national legislators about the Labor Department's proposed changes to overtime rules, as well as federal employees attendance at nongovernment meetings, such as association meetings.
After introductory remarks, International Dairy Foods Association president Connie Tipton, a past TRENDS Association Executive of the Year, delivered an address that fired up the 170 association executives, reminding them that it is their right to speak their opinions and petition the government. She said, "This is a time we ought to be reflecting on what in the world is going on in our country….We all know free enterprise is not free; the government is affecting more and more.
"Informing Congress of the nuances of legislation is an association's right and responsibility."
To read Tipton's remarks, click here.
Following Tipton was a panel discussion on using the ASAE's Power of A message effectively on the Hill. Panelists included (above, from left) Mark Dorsey, MBA FASAE, CAE, excutive director of the Construction Specification Institute; Stefanie Reeves, M.A., CAE, executive director, Maryland Psychological Association and a past TRENDS Leading Association Lobbyist; Paul Pomerantz, FASAE, CAE, CEO, American Society of Anesthesiologists; and moderator Matthew D'Uva, FASAE, CAE, executive director of the International Assocaition for the Study of Pain and chairman of the ASAE public policy committee. D'Uva also is a past TRENDS Young & Aspiring Association Professional.
The panel discussed the power of personal stories, and the ways in which associations can make a positive impact and enrich lives. Pomerantz kicked off the discussion by advising the fly-in participants to remind their congressional staff that associations are a top provider of professional education; drive safety and sustainability standards; and use the collective knowledge of each association to predict trends and seed progress.
Dorsey discussed the power of personal stories. It’s one thing to have facts and figures, he said, but a personal story puts a human face on your issue, and shows the member of Congress or staffer that your issue impacts real people. He advised to use a personal story that embraces the mission of the association, while highlighting the real societal good that results from it.
Reeves discussed the importance of using social media, on fly-ins but for your association in general. She said social media will never replace one-on-one meetings, but it is another valuable tool you can use to make a connection with policy makers.
The next panel discussed the important issues that ASAE wanted the fly-in participants to bring up in their meetings on Capitol Hill. Panelists included members of ASAE's public policy team: SVP Jim Clarke, CAE, associate director Mary Kate Cunningham and director Chris Vest, CAE.
ASAE's major focus of the 2016 fly-in is the newly proposed overtime rule that was introduced by the U.S. Labor Department last summer.
The new rule will require business to pay overtime wages to employees who make $50,440 or less per year. In addition, the minimum salary to receive overtime pay would automatically increase each year to match the 40th percentile of the average salary earned by full-time employees in the United States. The overtime pay threshold was last increased in 2004 and the proposed rule calls for a 113% percent increase to that current threshold.
ASAE believes that this new rule proposed will adversely impact the association community as employers will have to either lay off employees or exclude reclassified employees from telework and career growth opportunities outside of core business hours to cope with the increased overtime obligations. Furthermore, ASAE believes that the proposed rule is a heavy-handed, “one-size-fits-all” approach to tackling the issue of overtime pay. Instead, an increase in overtime pay should be linked to government data on regional cost-of-living differences.
The panel urged fly-in attendees to ask members of Congress to take action to block the rule from taking affect if the DOL moves forward with the rule without changes that address the association community’s concerns. After the proposed rule was introduced more than 250,000 organizations, including ASAE, submitted comments on the proposed rule.
This year's Sentinel Award, presented at the end-of-day reception, went to Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., for defending association meetings and his role in securing a two-year delay of the Affordable Care Act. Watch presentation here.
Also, Cheryl Ronk, CAE, CMP, FASAE, president of the Michigan Society of Association Executives, received the Association Political Leadership Award for longstanding commitment to advocating for associations. Watch presentation here.
Heller, Ronk and ASAE CEO John Graham IV, CAE, FASAE. Photo: ASAE.
Matthew Barnes and David Kamerick contributed to this article.