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Arkansas State Chamber/Associated Industries.

Good Years Continue To Come Around For State Chamber/AIA

The Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce and Associated Industries of Arkansas (ASCC/AIA) have seen some good years during the history of the two organizations. However, the year 1993, even before the end of April, had already brought a time perhaps unequaled in the histories of the two organizations in terms of pro-business developments.

During the first four months of 1993, activities of ASCC/AIA focused on the arena of state government. In recent months, the activities have focused on government in Washington, D.C.

On April 5, the Arkansas Supreme Court issued a significant ruling that will benefit Arkansas business and economic development. The ruling upheld the "Freeport Law," enacted by the Arkansas General Assembly in 1969. Six days earlier, March 31, Gov. Jim Guy Tucker signed into law a landmark workers' compensation reform act (Act 796 of 1993). Probably at no earlier time in Arkansas' history has there been a six-day period which saw more important economic developments than these.

The Freeport ruling stated it was the intent of the legislature in passing the Freeport Law that manufacturers should not pay property tax on raw materials used to produce products to be shipped outside the state. Such promises were made to prospective industry over the years until an administrative change in interpretation in 1986.

Business and industries will benefit directly from the court's ruling, but the people will reap the benefits through the court's upholding legislation that provides a strong jobs development tool.

The new workers' compensation reform law is the best thing to happen to the Arkansas worker and the most important piece of legislation passed in a decade, in terms of saving jobs in Arkansas. One of the most significant provisions of the new law reverses court and administrative rulings that in recent years expanded the workers' compensation system and virtually made it a welfare system. The new law requires strict interpretation of the language of Act 796.

Costs have been soaring, yet injured workers were not getting their rightful share of the money that goes into the system. Employers fund the system and cost escalation was driving many employers out of business and threatening the same fate for other employers. The new law should rein-in the escalating costs.

Even if this much-needed reform had been the only victory gained by business from the 1993 regular legislative session, it would have been enough to consider the session a good, pro-business, jobs-saving session. In addition to the enactment of this reform, business became the victor through the defeat of other proposed legislation that was anti-business.

Since adjournment of the General Assembly, one of our main activities has involved work targeted at the so-called "Workplace Fairness Bill" in Congress (HR-5/S-55).

The highly misleading name was hung on this legislation by its union-boss proponents. Actually, there is absolutely NOTHING FAIR about this legislation! It more accurately can be called the "Strike Breeder Bill."

The State Chamber and Associated Industries organized in all 75 Arkansas counties to work for the defeat of this number one priority of organized labor. County coordinators have been at work in the 75 counties of the state, urging employers and others to communicate with our delegation members in Washington their opposition to HR-5/S-55. By late June, this organizational effort had generated 9,000 to 10,000 pieces of mail directed at our elected representatives in the nation's capital.

Enactment of this legislation would overturn more than half a century of U.S. labor law that has served this nation well. It would give union bosses the tool to grab power they have been unable to gain through the bargaining process. Simply put, the issue is this: It's whether UNION AND NON-UNION employees can walk off the job for any reason, for as long as they want to stay out, and then come back to work with their old job guaranteed waiting for them!

We do not believe that is fair and are fighting it. If you would like to join us in this fight and are not yet a member of either of our organizations, you can easily become a part of us by telephoning 501/374-9225. Ask for marketing. Or write to: P.O. Box 3645, Little Rock, AR 72203-3645.
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Publication:Arkansas Business
Date:Aug 16, 1993
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