John Long speaks at 2014 Client Connection Forum

By John Long, CEO of Avionte Staffing Software

For those that don’t know, Avionté provides software solutions to the staffing industry. As such, we are only indirectly affected by many of the onerous legislation that targets the staffing industry. But, our company philosophy is based on true partnership and what happens to you, happens to us.

I have become increasingly involved politically over the years. I firmly believe that nothing could fundamentally change staffing as an industry faster than legislation. Also – I really worry about America as a country, as the path I’m seeing centers on collectivism, entitlements and this belief that by being an American, you have a right to an easy life. And I worry about the overall image of “Temp” staffing: that it’s being perceived as a dirty word.

The “Temp” Agency’s Image, and the Staffing Industry’s Current State in Legislation                                    

I go to the ASA Law Conference every year and hear it directly from EEOC commissioners. I see it from Big Labor. I see it in the media. To exacerbate the situation, staffing always has the few knucklehead companies that personify the issue by skirting worker comp and employment laws. As we all know, though, what you do brings hope, work and meaning to millions of people every day.

As I have spent more time with politicians, I’m amazed – and saddened – by the process in which decisions are made. Decisions that dramatically affect all of us are made on scant information. At best. At worst, the decisions are made based on one-sided anecdotes or as direct favors for campaign contributions. Our futures are being decided every time your local, state and federal legislators meet.

I’m concerned by the relatively low involvement staffing companies have in the political process. Recently, my state of Minnesota wanted to impose a 6.5% sales tax on services, including temporary work. Members of my staff and I went door to door to staffing companies to make sure they knew this was being considered. Around 50% knew nothing about it.

Representation Starts with the American Staffing Association

As the CEO/Founder of a growing company, I understand time and energy constraints. In addition to the enormous about of time it takes to run a business, I have four kids and a life outside of work. I don’t have the time or energy to read every piece of legislation. As a part of the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB), I work with people that are significantly more up to date on issues than I am. All of this points to why we need to have people representing us on the issues and talking directly to the legislators.

For me, representation starts with the American Staffing Association (ASA). This organization has many purposes, but one of the main ones is to be your voice. I know the perception is that ASA only represents the big staffing organizations, but having personally interacted with ASA for the last 15 years, I know this isn’t the case. If I was a staffing owner, I would without question be a member of ASA.

Further, ASA has a Political Action Committee (PAC) called StaffingPAC, which is aimed directly at supporting pro-staffing legislation. To increase awareness of the StaffingPAC, I made a public pledge to all of our clients who attended our recently-held 5th Annual Client Connection Forum.

Getting Involved in the Fight for a Rightful Image

At 300-plus attendees this year, we hit a new record for our yearly user event, Client Connection Forum. At the end of my Forum presentation, I announced an aggressive promotion of StaffingPAC. For the attendees of the conference, I announced that Avionté would deduct from their September invoice – dollar for dollar – any contributions to the StaffingPAC during the conference, up to $1,500 per company.

A short clip of the actual offer can be seen on YouTube, or by clicking on the image below. Based on my speech, I’m clearly better off behind a keyboard!

John Long, CEO of Avionte, on ASA's StaffingPACI wasn’t sure what to expect. It shocks me how few staffing companies actually directly support the StaffingPAC. Here, though, was an opportunity where staffing companies could donate to the StaffingPAC that literally would cost them no money. I wasn’t sure if I’d get crickets or if things would go the other way (where I’d have to start begging for forgiveness from my Board of Directors)! I was hoping for 10 independent companies that would contribute the full $1,500.

Well, I’m very excited to announce the initiative was extremely successful! We had 27 different staffing companies contribute $38,500 to the StaffingPAC! These dollars will be significantly useful to ASA and to you, the staffing company.

Why You Should Donate Too

While I won’t be able to continue matching dollar for dollar(!), I definitely encourage every staffing company to contribute to the StaffingPAC. Here is a link that will take you to the donation page: Every dollar is meaningful.

Note that it is more impactful to the StaffingPAC if you do an individual contribution as they can use the money in whichever way is the most beneficial. If you do a corporate contribution, the dollars must to be used for their Admin fund.

Secondly – if you contribute $1,500 or more, you will be considered as an “Industry Leader” and every year at the Staffing World Conference and Expo, held this year in D.C., you will be invited to a fantastic event and dinner. Last year, the event was held at the Isleworth Golf and Country Club, where we saw the tree Tiger Woods hit on his infamous night. This year the event is held at the National Portrait Gallery.

At the end of the day, every staffing company is directly affected by legislation and those effects can be catastrophic. This might be the biggest risk to your long term business. I encourage you to educate yourself and support organizations like ASA or your state chapters: those that battle on your behalf.

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