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More than 200 grocery retailers, wholesalers and food industry state association executives from across the United States met in Washington, D.C. on April 30 for the annual "Day in Washington" supermarket industry fly-in event. Members of the National Grocers Association (NGA), Food Marketing Institute (FMI) and the Food Industry Association Executives (FIAE) are taking part in 210-plus meetings with their elected officials and top congressional staffers to advocate on such pressing legislative matters as health care, tax reform and data security during the two-day event, which wraps up on May 1.
One major topic of discussion is the definition of a full-time employee, which the Affordable Care Act (ACA) currently sets at 30 hours average per week per month. Supermarket industry representatives say they're seeking flexibility and ways to lessen new burdens under the ACA, to enable food retailers and wholesalers to keep offering employees affordable health coverage.
Save American Workers Act
To address that issue as well as ongoing concerns with the law itself that affect how grocers manage their workforces, adjust work schedules and provide other employee benefits, both FMI and NGA have thrown their support behind the Save American Workers Act (H.R. 2575), which passed the U.S. House of Representatives last month.
"The supermarket industry plays a critical role in our nation's economic growth, creating jobs and paying billions in tax revenue," noted Peter J. Larkin, president and CEO of Washington-based NGA. "It is increasingly important that policymakers in Washington hear firsthand from grocery executives about how legislation and regulations directly impact the supermarket industry, their employees and, ultimately, the consumers they serve."
"Supermarkets are the place where the real-life economic, social and health concerns of the American public become manifest," added Leslie G. Sarasin, president and CEO of the Arlington, Va.-based FMI. "With such a close working relationship with their customers, this makes food retailers the voice our legislators need most to hear to help heal the existing disconnect between Washington, D.C., and the citizens they represent."