WASHINGTON, D.C. — Top officials from the National Roofing Contractors Association met with President Trump’s Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney as part of Roofing Day in D.C. 2019.
NRCA CEO Reid Ribble made the announcement during a welcome reception held Wednesday at the Hyatt Regency Washington, just steps away from Capitol Hill. That’s where roofing industry professionals had nearly 300 meetings with congressional staffers and members of congress as part of the second Roofing Day (Thursday, April 4).
Ribble said it was only because of the efforts of all involved with Roofing Day that the meeting with Mulvaney was possible.
“Part of the result of having 400 people here last year, our chairman of the board, Ken Schwickert, our incoming chairman of the board, Nick Sabino, and I had a meeting at the highest levels of government at the White House today.
“And we met with the chief of staff of the President of the United States, and that is, in part, because they now see the industry as a whole…they get to look at us through a different set of eyes,” Ribble said.
Ribble said having such access essentially “starts with having large groups of people come together.”
NRCA noted in a press release that during the West Wing meeting — a first for the roofing industry — NRCA leadership explained a chronic shortage of qualified workers is the most significant limitation on the ability of roofing industry employers to grow their businesses. This problem will become even more acute in the future because of an aging workforce, educational trends and ongoing rebuilding efforts resulting from recent hurricanes and other natural disasters throughout the U.S.
Although NRCA is pursuing numerous initiatives designed to attract more U.S.-based workers to the roofing industry, providing for sufficient levels of legal immigration to meet economic demand remains vital to addressing the industry's long-term workforce needs.
NRCA said it believes the security and economic needs of U.S. citizens should be paramount in immigration policy. NRCA is asking Congress to establish a visa system, such as the system proposed in the Workforce for an Expanding Economy Act that meets the workforce needs of roofing and similar industries. This system should be governed by market forces, ensure employers undertake vigorous recruitment to hire U.S. workers first, and enable job creators to obtain the workers needed to meet demand and grow their businesses.
NRCA supports legislation that allows Temporary Protected Status workers who have a demonstrated track record of working legally in the U.S. with the opportunity to apply for permanent legal resident status. This would allow eligible TPS workers to continue contributing to their communities and increased economic growth.
"I appreciate that the president's chief of staff took the time to meet with us and am pleased with our conversation," Schwickert said. "It's important to discuss these vital issues for our industry, and he was attentive and asked insightful questions as we discussed the roofing industry and our concerns. Although the political environment in Washington, D.C., remains challenging for solving the workforce issues facing our nation, we will continue working to solve them."
Ribble told Roofing Contractor there was an increase in the number of participants in Roofing Day and that it’s vital the trend continues in future Roofing Day events.
“We had about 5 percent growth this year which is good,” Ribble said. “We had a lot of new faces — about half of the people that were here were new.
“The larger this event grows…we will begin to put wins on the board for the roofing industry here in Washington, D.C.,” Ribble said. “But the way those wins occur is by the relationship building that occurs when adults who care about their country sit down and they talk and they share…and they build relationships with congressional staffers and their bosses, the members of congress, so that they begin to trust the information we’re giving them.
“And that means we have to do this every year, year-in and year-out.”