Click HERE for a printable PDF of the 2012 Georgia Chamber Business & Industry Policy Statement.
Workplace/Employment Regulations -- The Georgia Chamber of Commerce seeks to maintain a harmonious balance in the relationship between employees and employers in our state. The Chamber works to ensure that the employee-employer relationship remains healthy and provides for better job security for employees and a more competitive environment for employers.
Accordingly, the Chamber supports efforts to strengthen and protect Georgia’s “Right to Work” law and employment-at-will doctrine.
The Chamber specifically opposes legislative or regulatory efforts to create imbalance in the workplace, including pending federal proposals that would eliminate secret ballot elections in the workplace, impose mandatory first contract binding arbitration, call for an injunction against an employer where there is a “reasonable cause” to believe that the employer is engaged in an unfair labor practice, institute treble back pay for employees discriminatorily discharged during an organizing drive and impose excessive civil fines.
Business Regulations -- TheGeorgia Chamber of Commerce supports legislation that allows market force principles to work in the state’s economy. More competition, rather than increased government intervention, best serves Georgia’s economy and consumers and speeds products and innovation to the market. When legislation is, in fact, necessary to address marketplace concerns, legislators and regulators must resist efforts to favor one sector of our economy, or one segment of business, over others.
The Chamber supports:
Economic Investment -- The Georgia Chamber of Commerce believes some Georgia businesses are suffering from a lack of access to adequate capital. In particular, Georgia is losing new and early-stage technology startup companies due to insufficient access to local capital sources. To address this challenge, and to help retain technology and jobs created in Georgia, the Chamber supports expanding access to discretionary funds and efforts to leverage private investments for economic development purposes.
Pension Investment -- Georgia is currently the only state in the nation that does not allow pension investment in private equity. Public pension investments would bring additional venture capital to the state, diversify the state’s economy and create clusters of business innovation to generate economic development. The Georgia Chamber supports opening Georgia’s two largest pension funds for alternative investments.
Workers’ Compensation -- The Georgia Chamber of Commerce supports legislation and policies which ensure a balanced and equitable system of handling claims for workers who are injured on the job. An efficient Workers’
Compensation system should be fair to the employee and employer and designed to return the employee to work as soon as medically appropriate.
Competitive Fairness -- While the Georgia Chamber encourages and supports competition in the open marketplace, government entities often have inherent economic and regulatory advantages over the private sector. That is why the Chamber supports requiring all market competitors to adhere to a similar regulatory framework when offering retail consumer services.
Science and Technology -- The field of science and technology is an important and growing sector of the state economy and the Georgia Chamber supports the development of policies to encourage and facilitate the growth and capacity of this field.
Trade -- The Georgia Chamber of Commerce supports free and fair trade agreements to expand worldwide market access to U.S. companies and their products.
Workplace Safety -- The Georgia Chamber of Commerce supports safe, productive work environments which are conducive to efficiencies, morale and speed-to-market, and which avoid costly litigation. It is worth noting that, in addition to compliance with a myriad of state and federal regulations, rules, inspections and review, most Georgia businesses voluntarily adopt and adhere to standards that meet or exceed federal and state requirements. As part of a safe working environment, the Chamber supports the rights of business and property owners to determine appropriate policies and regulations regarding access to firearms in the workplace and on their property.
Immigration -- The Georgia Chamber of Commerce recognizes that immigration is a complex issue confronting business. Industry faces, and will continue to face, a growing shortage of both highly-skilled professionals and laborers in many sectors of our economy. Failure to address these shortages will result in the relocation of businesses to other nations where there is an abundance of skill-appropriate workers.
Passage of HB 87 in 2011 was an attempt by the Georgia Legislature to address continued inaction at the federal level in securing our borders and reducing the economic strains on public services by illegal immigration. The Chamber worked throughout the session to reduce burdens on businesses under the provisions in this bill and will closely monitor the impact of the new law.
On this issue, the Chamber continues to encourage and support:
efforts by the federal government to establish a lawful, manageable and monitored guest and essential worker program to fill the growing gaps in our state’s workforce -- recognizing that, in some cases, permanent immigrants will be needed to fill labor shortages; and
Alternative Work Options -- The Georgia Chamber of Commerce supports efforts by its members and government to encourage telecommuting, teleworking and alternative work schedules that can be practical solutions to human resource constraints, employee quality of life and environmental issues. These arrangements often benefit Georgia businesses through increased employee productivity and motivation, improved employee work-life balance, reduced vehicular pollution and traffic, government-sponsored financial incentives, and increased employment opportunities for disabled, rural and older workers, as well as spouses of those in the military.