On June 4, Printing Industries of America and NPES will hold their annual two-day “fly-in” to Washington, DC, to let printers and printing industry vendors buttonhole members of Congress and lobby on important issues. Among these issues are:
• A vital and sustainable US Postal Service
• Affordable and equitable healthcare reform
• Favorable capital investment tax policy
• Free, fair international trade
• Affordable American energy
• Responsible environmental policy
• Respect for the value and integrity of intellectual property
• Limited, effective and efficient regulations
While some of these lofty sounding issues make up more of a wish list than a roster of achievable goals, they do offer a window into what these two major associations view as important to the printing and graphic communications industry. It must also be kept in mind that the definition of such terms as affordable, equitable, favorable, responsible, and the like can mean very different things to different interest groups.
In light of this impending industry fly-in and government lobbying effort, we thought we’d ask some printers in the field just which government policies and actions are having the most effect on their businesses. Not surprisingly, many of the responses were less than flattering to the government.
• “The government is trying to run our businesses,” said Sheri Statt Bercaw, owner of Sir Speedy in Scottsdale, AZ. “Every day we see more and more impact from government regulations. We spend thousands of dollars each year to stay OSHA and EPA compliant. Healthcare expenses are affecting the insurance rates, and soon we will be faced with the fallout of Obamacare.
“Postal rates are changing how our clients want to get their message to market. We are seeing a large trend to electronic content distribution rather than print. It is also very expensive to stay in the printing and marketing business today with the high capital investment needed to keep current equipment that has the latest bells and whistles. We need less government, not more government.”
• David Monto of Dutchess ProPrint in Poughkeepsie, NY, sees healthcare and the postal system as two of the major issues in his business. “It seems to me what affects us in the short term is all the ever-changing postal regulations and rising rates. They make it increasingly more difficult to understand the regulations due to their convoluted instructions.
“In the long run, I am afraid of how our healthcare costs are going to climb, since no one has any idea what the costs of Obamacare are really going to be. Many of us are contemplating only hiring employees for 30 hours a week or less so we would not be required to provide healthcare benefits to them.”
• “Healthcare and the postal system are our two greatest concerns,” according to Keith Kemp of Xerographic Digital Printing in Orlando, FL. “As the post office continues to raise rates and cut out Saturday service it makes clients consider other means of communication. Although we are capable of managing an email campaign, the revenue associated with that project does not effectively cover the capital investment in printing equipment.
“Pertaining to healthcare, even though we have fewer than 50 employees, all insurance companies are raising their rates in anticipation of next year’s changes. We cover about 75 percent of the employees’ healthcare coverage, thus it impacts the company financially. Also, the type of coverage we can afford has declined, creating a greater expense for employees should they have health issues—higher co-pays, deductibles, and drug co-pays.”
• John Henry of Mitchell Printing and Mitchells Speedway Press in Osewego, NY, also is troubled by healthcare changes, but not quite so worried about postal reform. “Obamcare has affected us with higher costs and how many part-time versus full-time we hire. As of January 1, we no longer pay anything towards the families’ coverage and only cover the worker at 75 percent. We did grandfather in current staff. Today, I am better off hiring less skilled workers part-time, not full-time. Do I want to do that? No! But with a basic medical plan around $500 for a single person and climbing by double digits, no choice is left to me.