The International Association of Field Service Technicians (IAFST) is in Indianapolis for the next several days and allowed Foreclosurepedia’s Editor-in-Chief, Paul Williams, to tag along. Since kicking off the IAFST 10 in 10 — Ten IAFST Summits in Ten Months — they are well ahead of the mark. New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Florida, Texas, Tennessee, Indiana, and Illinois later next week. Not a bad start for a vastly underfunded Association whom is playing in the backyard of Goliaths. And the reality is that even though the Old Guard still blindly follow the National Association of Mortgage Field Services (NAMFS), much like sheep to the slaughter, IAFST is beginning to attract a substantial following. The NAMFS philosophy hasn’t changed since its founding by John Ward as a proxy for Lender Processing Services (LPS), now sold off an broken up into pieces cast to the wind such as Black Knight.
Even Eric Miller, the current and apparent lifetime appointee as Executive Director of NAMFS, began his Industry start at LPS. Miller, whose salary is One Hundred and Twenty Thousand Two Hundred and Forty Dollars per year; Miller’s salary which consumes nearly NINETY PERCENT of all NAMFS member dues, wants no change to the status quo. And the problem with Miller’s myopic vision is that the State of California’s Supreme Court joined 6 years worth of federal court rulings against NAMFS members, last week.
NAMFS members such as Mortgage Contracting Services (MCS) drank the Kool Aid which Miller was serving. Caroline Reaves misjudged the acquisition of Asset Management Specialists (AMS) and the interests in that purchase by the US government. So to was the belief by MCS and other NAMFS members that the regulatory arm of multiple state governments were not going to have an interest in the application of the letter of the law upon their misclassification of employees. Time and again when Eric Miller was confronted with information provided to he with respect to misclassification, Miller falsely believed that the storm would blow over. It didn’t. And to give some insight into precisely how recalcitrant Miller was, with respect to the rights of Minority Females and Labor, here is a quote from him as heard from a recent NAMFS Leadership Conference,
I never want to hear the word Boots on the Ground spoken around me again.
Miller’s hatred of Minorities is well known. In fact, the NAMFS Board of Directors has been all white since its founding over a quarter of a century ago. And that is not by chance. Never has Miller allowed a Minority to voice their feelings nor beliefs as that would not be apropos with respect to NAMFS and their elitism. It would appear, though, that NAMFS has become irrelevant.
The New York Strip at Ruth’s Chris Indianapolis was to die for. And the 500 degree plates the beef was served on were no joke. Manhattan Eastsides complimented the meal and we adjourned to a beautiful home off of East 109th Street to discuss the latest impact of the unilateral California regulatory actions taken against NAMFS members.
With the smoke heavy from cigars, I felt somewhat out of place. The scene was surreal; the environment was antithetical to all I stood for. And yet here I was. These were not worker drones. These were not people whom picked out what clothes they were going to wear. These were Power Brokers. These were men and women whom now had a common enemy. And the enemy of my enemy is my friend. Oh, make no mistake there was the sultry sound of the lone bugle out upon the battlefield as the gossamere sheets of grey were descending upon everything they stood for and believed in — everything that they had paid Eric Miller to handle. And now here we all were.
So, the Association is being built in no small part based upon this crystal ball of yours I would truly like to gaze into someday. With that said, how autonomous are you going to be?
I believe we all have a common foe and that foe is the paralytic inability to both address the elephant in the room and capitalize upon the guidance of the optics.
You see, that is the deal, isn’t it? Had the Mortgage Field Services Industry both chosen to trailblaze their own path and had the Industry subsequently invested in controlling the optics which were circumambulating their Hallowed Ground — the Land Where Sanctimonious Agendas Did Not Enrich The Few — we would be light years ahead of hindsight and its 20/20 vision. Here we are, though.
Do you honestly believe in lobbyists? A few of the folks here say that you used to work on K Street.
I believe in a trifecta. Lobbyists can only push an agenda which has its roots solidified in public opinion steered by both legal merit as well as optimal return on investment.
The Industry is having a 21st Century wake up call; the Industry is having a Come To Jesus Moment. And while the regulatory actions, combined with state and federal ruling, may negatively impact their labor force, ironically, they are the least of their collective worries. Anyone whom believes that when regulatory agencies coming home to roost and feed as a singularity, well, those cro magnons are, unfortunately, not students of history.
As a proponent of education, why do you believe that the investment by both ourselves as well as those taking the courses is justified?
Well, it’s a good question. Look, California is receptive to finding alternatives to how Becerra and the EDD — the Employment Development Department — are crucifying Uber, Lyft and this Industry. The real powers that be understand you cannot drive all of industries out. They said unskilled labor is the hallmark of misclassified employees. I mean they could care less about an EIN. If your subcontractor does not have employees or a General Contractors License, you are going to pay. But look, see, we are not talking about reinventing the wheel. What we are talking about is not unringing the bell. We are talking about controlling the reverberation of the bell.
While there is always ebb and flow in any industry, our Industry is now on the radar of both state and federal regulators. For 30 years, the Mortgage Field Services Industry has avoided attention and during the Crisis of 2008 the United States needed a pipeline to move assets through without question — fait accompli. It is always after the fact that ensures the pound of cure is employed as opposed to the ounce of prevention. And in the case of the Industry, all of the shakedowns, illegal contract provisions, and a false sense of security sold to the NAMFS Board of Directors by Eric Miller and his LPS cohorts created a perfect storm for regulators.
The takeaway I have, from my meeting up here in Indianapolis, is that the days of quaint NAMFS Leadership are over when it comes to addressing what few issues they ever did. It goes without saying that with the only major NAMFS member whom has a vested interest in the continued status quo is MCS. Safeguard Properties (SGP) is, for all intents and purposes, on life support with the death of Robert Klein. Five Brothers is following the Involuntary Bankruptcy of National Field Network (NFN) and the reality is that with National Field Representatives (NFR) now implementing Twenty Five Thousand Dollar fines, at will, the prevailing portfolio provider is going to be Fannie Mae. As a government sponsored enterprise (GSE), Fannie Mae already has enough problems attempting to get out from under the thumb of Uncle Sam. Fannie Mae reported a $6.5 billion dollar net loss and a comprehensive $6.7 billion loss on their Q4 FY2017 report — while simultaneously taking a $3.7 billion cash infusion from US Taxpayers.
Fannie Mae is in particularly dire straits. As Foreclosurepedia has been reporting for several months now, years of federal judicial decisions have proven, beyond any reasonable doubt, that independent contractors are actually misclassified employees. These cases did not go unseen by the State of California’s Employment Development Department (EDD).
In 2012, a six figure settlement was paid to Brad Hurst by Buczek Enterprises in order to keep silent the simple and salient fact that everyone working in the Mortgage Field Services Industry are actually misclassified employees rather than independent contractors. And by 2013, Foreclosurepedia was already sounding the alarm bells which NAMFS did their best to keep silent. That year and in subsequent years, multiple federal suits were filed with the prominent ones being Bennett Vinson v AMS – MCS as well as Fred Bowerman v Assurant – Field Asset Services. In the Vinson matter, Mortgage Contracting Services (MCS) paid millions of dollars to settle the matter and as opposed to correct their offending behavior, they issued a draconian Master Services Agreement (MSA) which Minority Females and Labor were ordered to sign, under penalty of losing monies owed to them. And in the Assurant Field Asset Services (Assurant) matter, jury verdicts in the first 11 of nearly 200 cases awarded over $2 Million to victims of NAMFS Offender Member Fraud.
The coup de grâce came when the California Supreme Court, last week, overturned over twenty years worth employee determinations in the Dynamex ruling. In discussing the Class Certification, the Court describes precisely what is occurring in the Industry, on a daily basis. Simply replace Dynamex with any NAMFS member name,
As a general matter, Dynamex obtains the customers for its deliveries, sets the rate that the customers will be charged, notifies the drivers where to pick up and deliver the packages, tracks the packages, and requires the drivers to utilize its tracking and recordkeeping system. As such, there is a sufficient commonality of interest regarding whether the work performed by the certified class of drivers who pick up and deliver packages and documents from and to Dynamex customers on an ongoing basis [… .]
IAFST is far ahead of the curve with respect to understanding the regulatory requirements for clearing the status for independent contractor. And the shakedown tactics by MCS and their Master Services Agreement (MSA) hold no water any longer. And as Foreclosurepedia was able to experience, the IAFST Leadership have been working this angle for quite some time. In fact, how Eric Miller was capable to continue to push the Uber and Lyft decisions; how the NAMFS Board of Directors did not see the overturning of those rulings and how virtually each and every Blue State were signing off on the ABC protocols for employee determinations truly shows the lack of vision and insight which NAMFS has become famous for.