With summer in full swing, it's a great time to update you on our advocacy efforts to protect, promote and enhance the franchise industry. In six weeks, hundreds of IFA members will descend on Washington, DC, for IFA's 13th Annual Public Affairs Conference, September 10-12. With the Presidential and congressional elections just over 100 days away, our annual fly-in will arrive at a perfect moment. As Congressional members return from the August recess, and the Republican and Democratic Conventions in Tampa and Charlotte are completed, franchise business leaders from across the country will converge on Capitol Hill during the final blitz of legislative activity before Election Day!
Over the past three years, the small business community and the franchise industry have faced an anti-business, pro-regulatory environment, tight credit markets and an impending, burdensome and very costly health care law implementation process. Unless Congress acts before the end of this year, we are facing the prospect of the highest tax increase on small businesses in our lifetime. If you haven't signed-up, I urge both franchisor and franchisee members to bring as many people as possible from your companies to lobby on the critical issues facing our industry. It has never been more important for the franchise industry to stand united. There is no registration fee for this critical meeting. Click here for more information about the Public Affairs Conference.
This assault on the small business community is why it is very important that the franchise industry, through IFA's Political Action Committee FranPAC, ensures that pro-business candidates are elected this November. In just over two years, FranPAC receipts have more than doubled and our goal to be a $1 million PAC by the 2013-14 election cycle will likely be achieved early-this September to be exact, as pledges already total over $1.2 million.
On healthcare, while IFA was disappointed in the Supreme Court's decision, and we have supported repeal of the law since its enactment, we continue to educate regulators to make the law more workable for the franchise business model.
At the state level, IFA was successful in passing independent contractor legislation in Georgia that defines the franchisee/franchisor relationship as an independent contract, not as an employment relationship. We are working to pass similar legislation in other states including Delaware, Indiana, Massachusetts, and Nebraska. We also defeated a major potential threat to the franchise business model in California, where a piece of legislation would have drastically changed the relationship between a franchisor and a franchisee and significantly hampered franchise growth.
In addition, I wanted to update you on one of IFA's most successful initiatives-VetFran. As you know, we have increased resources to promote veteran ownership of franchises, as well as to encourage franchise businesses to hire veterans as team members. Our efforts continue to be recognized by the media, the First Lady and the White House's Joining Forces initiative as key components of the country's dedication and commitment to returning veterans. In fact, we just received word that this effort will receive an ASAE (American Society of Association Executives) Summit Award this fall for our commitment to hire and recruit 75,000 veterans, military spouses and 5,000 wounded warriors by the end of 2014. Since Veteran's Day of 2011, the industry has helped over 7,200 veterans start careers in franchising-including 4.200 new franchise business owners.
I would also like to recognize all of our members and especially veterans who participated in our nationwide VetFran events leading up to July 4th. Over 100 IFA member companies in 12 cities thanked our nation's veterans for their service, and helped us launch a new Veterans Franchise Toolkit and VetFran Mentor Network to enable veterans to access franchise opportunities.
Let me commend all IFA members who are setting an outstanding example for our industry and our country by waiving their franchise fees for all qualified veterans, including: Tasti D-Lite, Two Men and A Truck, Original Brooklyn Water Bagel Co., VR Business Brokers, Cici's Pizza, America's Music School, Popeyes, Jiffy Lube, Papa John's, Quiznos, Planet Smoothie, Tasti D-Lite, Bennigan's, ValPak, Matco Tools, Big O Tires, Jet Black International and Watermill Express.
And finally, you may have seen in the news last week that IFA, as part of the management committee for the Coalition for a Democratic Workforce, continues to succeed in pushing back onerous regulations promulgated by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), which conducts labor elections and investigates unfair labor practices in the private sector. On July 27, the U.S. District Court Judge in the so called "Ambush" case rejected the NLRB's request to reconsider its prior decision to overrule the NLRB's rule that allows union organizers to surprise employers with petitions and force an election before employers have even had the chance to provide information to their employees.
Thank you for your support of the IFA, and I hope to see you in Washington this September. Our industry is at a turning point and what happens this fall in Congress and with the upcoming elections will have a long-term impact on how you run your businesses. By lending your voice to the debate, we have a better chance of ensuring that Congress does not enact legislation or promulgate regulations that threaten franchising's ability to do business.
Steve Caldeira, CFE
IFA President & CEO