Posts Categorized: News

US DOL Releases Final Overtime Rules

Courtesy of the National Grocers Association

The Department of Labor (DOL) finalized and released the pending rule on overtime pay for salaried workers. The rule addresses the “white collar” exemption for executive, professional, and outside sales workers under the Fair Labor Standards Act. The new rule raises the exempt salary threshold from the previous $23,660 ($455 per week) to $47,476 ($913 per week). The 100% increase will also be coupled by an automatic increase which will be tied to changes in the 40th percentile in full-time salaried wages in the lowest-wage region of the United States (currently the southeast). The automatic increases will take place every three years, not on an annual basis as previously expected. There were no changes made to the duties test.

NGA has worked tirelessly to combat the changes made to the overtime rule since the publication of the proposed rule in July of 2015. NGA submitted extensive comments on behalf of NGA members (click HERE to view NGA’s comments) and has been actively lobbying towards a legislative solution (H.R. 4773 and S. 2707, the Protecting Workplace Advancement and Opportunity Act) that would prevent the rule from going into effect. NGA also presented the concerns of the independent supermarket industry to the Office of Management and Budget Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OMB, OIRA) during the required rule review process. NGA has consistently advocated against the rule on the grounds that it would have significant negative effects on independent grocers, employees, and the communities they serve.

The rule is set to go into effect on December 1, 2016. This is a substantially longer period than the 60 day implementation period that had been rumored, though still far short of the desired 12-18 month implementation timetable NGA laid out to OMB. In the interim, NGA will continue to work with the Partnership to Protect Workplace Opportunity and other allied trade associations to push for H.R. 4773 and S. 2707 to be taken up for consideration in their respective chambers. It should be noted that the use of the Congressional Review Act (CRA) has been discussed in relation to the overtime rule. The CRA is a legislative mechanism that allows the Congress to pass a joint resolution of disapproval that negates the rule in question. However, a CRA is unlikely to gain the signature of the President and it is unlikely that either chamber has the votes to overcome a veto, making a legislative fix the best option for preventing this rule from going into effect.

Though NGA maintains that the 100% increase of the salary threshold will place a significant burden on the independent supermarket industry, the changes made to the final rule fully reflect the arguments that NGA made in our comments to DOL and OMB. NGA strongly advocated for: no changes to be made to the duties test, a longer implementation period, no automatic annual updates, and a significantly lower salary threshold based on geographic differences in salaried wages.

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MGFPA Members Serving in the Maine Legislature – Thank You!

Legislators - Our MembersFront Row: Senator Amy Volk – Volk Packaging,  Shelley Doak – Executive Director and Representative Stedman Seavey – Goose Rocks Beach General Store in Kennebunkport. Back Row: Representative Jeff Timberlake – Ricker Hill in Turner, Representative Gary Sukeforth – The Common Market in Appleton, Representative Scott Hamann – Good Shepherd Food Bank in South Portland & Cape Elizabeth.

A special thank you to our hardworking MGFPA associates who serve as members of Maine’s Legislature. As leaders in the business community, we appreciate the knowledge and perspective that they bring to public policy on behalf of Maine’s grocers and food producers.

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FDA Releases Food Transportation Rules

The FDA has released the sanitary transportation final rule, the last rule required by the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). The rule was submitted to the Federal Register for publication last Friday, and posted on the FDA’s website yesterday. The rule creates requirements for shippers, loaders, carriers (including motor and rail), and receivers who are involved with transporting human and animal foods. A fact sheet produced by FDA can be found HERE,

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Hannaford Supermarkets Hits the Mark

Monday, April 4, 2016   A Hannaford Supermarkets program designed to help both the environment and local people in need has surpassed two significant milestones: more than 500,000 meals provided to fight hunger and $100,000 raised to support local community groups, according to a news release from the grocery store chain.

In recognition of these accomplishments, Hannaford will donate $2 to a local charity for every Hannaford Helps bag and contribute the equivalent of two nutritious meals for each Fight Hunger bag purchased in April — a 100 percent match of the standard donations.

Hannaford’s cause-related shopping bag program has two parts:

  • Fight Hunger bags — Hannaford contributes enough money to buy one meal to a food bank in our region when someone buys one of these reusable brown-and-yellow bags. The program began 22 months ago and has funded more than 566,000 meals at local food pantries, meals programs and food banks so far.
  • Hannaford Helps bags — the grocer donates $1 to a nearby nonprofit group, chosen by that customer’s local supermarket, for every one of these blue bags sold. The initiative started five months ago and has raised more than $100,000 in donations for 561 community groups.

Causes benefiting from the Hannaford bag program in Maine include organizations as diverse as the Good Shepherd Food Bank, youth sports, disability-support agencies, community centers, arts organizations, humane societies, children’s programs and dozens of other local groups.


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Class Action Lawsuits Against Food Producers are on the Rise

Costly Class Action Lawsuits Are On The Rise

Several times each week, The Food Institute reports on new class action lawsuits against food manufacturers and retailers in its member newsletter Today In Food. The number is growing rapidly and a cause for concern among both classes of trade. Over 250 class action lawsuits have been filed against many major food companies over the past two years. Most recently, a class action lawsuit was filed against Trader Joe’s for allegedly underfilling some 5-oz. cans of tuna. Obviously, the specialty food chain does not pack its own tuna but its label is on the can nonetheless. The complaint was filed in a New York Federal court and alleges that “Tests by a U.S. government lab confirm that Trader Joe’s 5-ounce cans actually contain less than 3 ounces of tuna in most instances, and that every lot tested, and nearly every single can, was underfilled in violation of the federally mandated minimum standard of fill.” Needless to say, the impact such a case and related press can have on a retail chain is significant, and costly. And although the case is typically promulgated by a single individual or group of individuals, by reaching class action status, the stakes are great and can easily run into the millions of dollars which may or may not covered by insurance, depending upon the circumstances.  Read more here.

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