December 2012

Sincere thoughts and best wishes for a wonderful holiday and a very happy New Year

Bill, Bob, Doug, Jerry, Joan, Laura, Kathleen & Tom

New members

We are especially pleased that these companies recognize the value of belonging to TRMA, especially in tough economic times:

Weaver Boos Consultants

Meeting Calendar
Environmental Division
To be announced
Government Affairs Division
To be announced
Maintenance Division
To be announced
Safety Division
Jan 8 First Aid/CPR/AED Training;
7:15 am to 4:30 pm; $99
Human Resources Division
Jan 29
Employer's Workshop:
Meeting Business Needs in 2013
Prices shown apply to TRMA members. For members and non-member details and registration
click here.
Fire Watch with Hands-on Fire Extinguisher Training and Confined Space Entry Watch Training

(see announcement for details) Classes will resume early March, 2013

For newsletter advertising opportunities please contact Jerry Caamano or Kathleen Ament.

Information from this newsletter may be reproduced, without prior permission, if the Three Rivers Manufacturers' Association is credited as source.

Social Media a Potential Minefield for Employers--
But Legal Consultants offer TRMA Members Guidance

Social media use by employees and organized labor poses significant challenges for employers, in part because it's a new field in labor relations and evolving case law is a moving target, according to two legal consultants who spoke to TRMA's HR division on December 13, 2012.

David Birnbaum and Michael Ferrell of the firm Day Jones said that the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has become the de facto driving force in establishing case law on social media and that the acting general counsel, Lafe Solomon, has said that this is a priority during his tenure. "Since the general counsel decides which cases to push ahead, he has great discretion in driving the board's evolving policies," said Birnbaum.

"Solomon's position is that the use of social media by employees is analogous to employees talking at the water cooler, in that they are protected under the law to talk to each other about conditions at work," Birnbaum said.

A second key message delivered by Birnbaum and Ferrell is that the NLRB will not only review the merits of an employee complaint over being disciplined by an employer about comments posted on social media, the board will also dissect the employer's policies regarding the use of social media.

To view full story click here.


New Program to Recruit & Train Instrument & Maintenance Techs Shows Great Promise

A new joint venture of TRMA, member companies and Joliet Junior College (JJC) may hold the key to resolving a longstanding issue facing local manufacturers: the chronic shortage of qualified instrument and maintenance technicians to replace retiring Baby Boomers.

"Manufacturers' only options have been to recruit qualified people from each other or identify their own workers who show potential to be trained internally to fill the gap," said TRMA Executive Director Jerry Caamano. "Neither option is a long term solution."

JJC already offers associate degree and certificate programs in mechanical maintenance and process control and instrumentation technology. "So there is great potential to recruit students so long as they can be convinced that there are reasonable prospects for employment," Caamano said.

TRMA surveyed member companies in 2012 to determine how many tech positions they expect to have to fill over the next five years and whether establishing an internship training initiative is a viable option. Those responding said they will need 100 instrument techs and 250 maintenance techs between now and 2018. The majority said that they can support an internship program.

The new plan, adopted by the TRMA board of directors in response to the survey results, would have participating employers offer JJC students one-year internships while they complete their coursework. The students will gain hands-on training and the companies will help to create a pool of qualified applicants.

To view full story click here.



2012 has been a good year for the Three Rivers Education Partnership (TREP). Because of our strategic planning efforts, we entered 2012 focused on providing measurable value for TREP's business and education partners. Thus enabling TREP's resources to execute programs and facilitate the integration of our business partners into Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) based programs. Finally, value effectiveness data was collected, and the results are strong. A few statistical examples include:

• 97% of the teachers strongly agreed that TREP's Making STEM Relevant Graduate classes helped related course material to "real world."
• 94% of the guidance counselors strongly agreed that the Guidance Counselor Workshop that focused on local STEM jobs increased their knowledge and skill in their role as counselors.
• 87% of the teachers in the JASON STEM Cohort rated the professional development series as excellent.

To view full story click here.