Industry discusses highway bill, jobs with labor secretary

By |  October 22, 2014

Representatives from the National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association (NSSGA), state aggregates association reps and executives from a number of aggregate producers met with U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez and MSHA’s Joe Main to discuss key issues facing the aggregates industry. The group discussed a number of topics, including the continued need for a long-term federal highway bill.

“We talked with the secretary about how important it is to get that long-term highway bill – not just for us but for the American economy,” said Mike Johnson, president and CEO of NSSGA, in a phone interview with Pit & Quarry. “His job is to make sure this economic recovery includes good jobs and that we’re growing the middle class. The secretary understood that he has to be in tune and active to encourage Congress to pass that long-term highway bill – and make sure it’s well-funded.”

“[The secretary] recognizes that his role is to deliver that message especially to the Democrats in the House and the Senate, and encourage them to take action that’s closer to a long-term bill,” Johnson added.

Jobs were another topic discussed, according to Johnson. The group conveyed the industry’s struggle to attract good employees, including truck drivers. One possible solution the group discussed is tapping veterans for these jobs.

“In partnership with the states, [the Department of] Labor supports job centers that identify needs and make sure we’re matching up veterans, for instance,” Johnson said. “As we went around the table and folks were asked if they know of the things being done in their state, most really weren’t aware. They didn’t know about labor-sponsored programs in their area. It was welcome news to everyone.”

In addition to those programs, Johnson said NSSGA plans to promote jobs and support veterans by launching an initiative next March called Hire Our Heroes.

“We know there are veterans coming back from multiple tours of service,” Johnson said. “We need to make sure we are giving those folks all the help we can to join our industry. We’re going to work with the [Department of] Labor on veterans outreach.”

Industry safety and health and MSHA matters were also discussed at the meeting. According to Johnson, the aggregate producers in the meeting said they are seeing more consistency and experiencing more collaboration with their MSHA inspectors.

“We see it’s working and we want to make sure that we take this to the next level,” Johnson said.

According to NSSGA, the aggregate producers present in the meeting were: CalPortland’s Allen Hamblen and Ron Summers; Glenn O. Hawbaker’s Mike Hawbaker; Lehigh Hanson’s Tom Chizmadia and Randy Mucha; Luck Stone’s Charles Luck IV; Martin Marietta’s John Tiberi; Martin Stone’s Rod Martin; New Enterprise Stone & Lime Co.’s Paul Detwiler III; and Rogers Group’s Jerry Geraghty.

Representatives from eight state aggregates associations were also present, including Steve Trussell of the Arizona Rock Products Association; John Cardosa of the Georgia Construction Aggregates Association; Robert G. Jones of the Indiana Mineral Aggregates Association; Rich White of the Iowa Limestone Producers Association; Ron Gray of the Kentucky Crushed Stone Association; Pat Jacomet of the Ohio Aggregates & Industrial Minerals Association; Steve Rudloff of the Missouri Limestone Producers Association; and Bruce Chattin of the Washington Aggregates and Concrete Association.

Editor’s note: Read Joe Main’s perspective on this meeting on the U.S. Department of Labor’s blog.

Kevin Yanik

About the Author:

Kevin Yanik is editor-in-chief of Pit & Quarry. He can be reached at 216-706-3724 or

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