United States Department of Labor

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November 26, 2014
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By The Numbers By The Numbers: More than 1 million people have visited HealthCare.gov and CuidadoDeSalud.gov to learn about options and enroll.

Work In Progress: The Best of Our Blog

Each week, this space will bring you the best from our (Work in Progress) blog.

Giving Thanks for Higher Wages: For Thanksgiving, Secretary Perez is grateful that 17 states and the District of Columbia have increased minimum wages.

Signs of Economic Strength: The economy is showing strength and we need to focus on making sure everyone reaps the benefits, the department's chief economist, Heidi Shierholz, writes.

Five Facts About Women Veterans: During Military Family Month, let's recognize the sacrifices that women and men who serve their country make on the battlefield and at home, writes Latifa Lyles, director of the Women's Bureau.

Striving to Increase Compliance

The Wage and Hour Division is examining supply chains during investigations and urging businesses at all levels to comply with labor laws. Administrator Dr. David Weil met with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and the Fair Foods Council in Tampa, Fla., on Nov. 21 to learn about their successes in improving conditions for farm workers in the tomato and broader agriculture industry. "Your model for worker-driven social responsibility, leveraging partnerships between farm workers, tomato growers, and participating retail buyers proves that this approach can work," said Dr. Weil. "By bringing such high-impact buyers to the table, including Subway, Whole Foods and Walmart, you have leveraged their collective buying power to improve conditions for thousands of workers."

Read About Protections for Agricultural Workers
Learn About Coalition of Immokalee Workers

Apprenticeship Event Helps Vets

It was a busy scene at a job fair and apprenticeship summit jointly sponsored by the American Job Center in Jacksonville, N.C., NCWorks Career Center — Onslow, and the Montford Point Marine Association on November 13, 2014. Click for a larger photo.

Nearly 200 veterans attended an apprenticeship summit and job fair on Nov. 13 in North Carolina. Sponsored by the American Job Center in Jacksonville, N.C., NCWorks Career Center — Onslow, NCWorks Apprenticeship Division and the Montford Point Marine Association, the event brought together nearly 40 North Carolina companies to meet with applicants. Seventeen of the employers offer registered apprenticeships. To ready veterans for the job fair, the center held classes on resume writing, interview preparation and professional networking prior to the event. Local veteran service organizations partnered with the center to attract veterans, and the Transition Assistance Program recruited transitioning service members to attend. Employers reported a positive experience, scheduling follow-up interviews with several veterans in attendance.

Find a Local American Job Center

Team Building From an Expert

Capt. John Meijer, commanding officer of the the Navy's newest aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford, which is being built in Virginia, with students Kayla Campbell, Newman Parker, Reginald Mayes, J. Abdul-Mumeet, Dakota Underwood, Susan Ford Bales, Dustin Kammers, Thomas Flora and security instructor Christopher Hollis at the Gerald R. Ford Job Corps Center in Grand Rapids, Mich., Nov. 17. Click for a larger photo.

Students at the Gerald R. Ford Job Corps Center in Grand Rapids, Mich., were challenged to learn to be leaders by the captain of the Navy's newest nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, the U.S.S. Gerald R. Ford, which will be commissioned in 2016. The ship's commanding officer, Capt. John Meijer, spoke to the students on Nov. 17 about the process of building a modern naval vessel and, more importantly, building a team of men and woman to serve on it. At the presentation's end, Meijer awarded the six top Job Corps Gold Card students with commemorative "Challenge" coins. Later that day, select Security Trade Color Guard students presented colors at Amway Corp., where Meier addressed employees. Susan Ford Bales, daughter of the late president, attended.

Small Business Saturday

Need to buy a birthday present for a friend? Looking for holiday gift ideas? Nov. 29 has been designated Small Business Saturday, a day to support small businesses and all that they do for their communities. The Small Business Administration urges shoppers to make a big difference on Small Business Saturday by making purchases at local stores, dining out locally and participating via social media.

Learn More About Small Business Saturday

Women Preparing for Success

More than 150 women attended the Pacific Northwest Women's Conference focusing on "preparing for success in career, home and life" on Nov. 18 and 19 in Seattle. Staff from the Women's Bureau's Seattle Regional Office conducted a 90-minute workshop on workplace flexibility at the event, which was sponsored by the Federally Employed Women Pacific Northwest Region. "Workplace flexibility strengthens employee loyalty and productivity as it enables balance in work and family obligations," said Women's Bureau Regional Administrator Betty Lock. During the workshop, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission provided information about equal pay and protections under the Equal Pay Act.

Learn About Equal Pay

Students With Disabilities

The 15th Annual National Conference of Career Opportunities for Students with Disabilities, held in Philadelphia, featured participants from the department. Ed Rogers, district director of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, presented information on changes to Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act. Staff from the Philadelphia Regional Office of the Veterans' Employment and Training Services also were on hand to discuss employment opportunities for veterans, as well as the ways VETS can assist in job searches. The approximately 125 attendees on Nov. 20 included representatives of Philadelphia-area federal contractors and educational institutions.

Improving Outreach

The Wage and Hour Division must explore every avenue to broaden the impact of its work to more broadly influence compliance. That imperative was part of a discussion on strategic enforcement and the changing workplace at the American Bar Association Annual Labor and Employment Law Section Conference in Los Angeles. Dr. David Weil, the Wage and Hour administrator, spoke about the division's outreach efforts to increase compliance and improve workplace conditions. "We must remove any incentive to violate the law, and provide incentives, and the information necessary, to comply," Weil said "I challenge you and your clients to work with us to be creative in how we can move forward by working together to advance these strategies."

Weekly UI Claims

The department reported that the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial Unemployment Insurance claims was 313,000 for the week ending Nov. 22, an increase of 21,000 from the previous week's revised level. The four-week moving average was 294,000, up 6,250 from the previous week's revised average.

Read the News Release

Upcoming Deadlines & Events

Open Funding Opportunities

OFCCP — Compliance with Today's Affirmative Action Plan Requirements

December 10 — Seattle, WA

OFCCP — Overview of Adverse Impact

December 4 — Chicago, IL

OFCCP — Revised Supply and Service Scheduling Letter and Itemized Listing

December 4 — Houston, TX
December 16 — Houston, TX

OFCCP — What to Expect During an OFCCP Audit

December 10 — Dallas, TX

OSHA — National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health Meeting

December 10 — Washington, DC

OWCP — Town Hall Meeting to assist nuclear weapons workers

December 9 — Shiprock, NM
December 10 — Shiprock, NM

OWCP — Traveling Resource Center to assist nuclear weapons workers

November 24 — Los Alamos, NM

OSHA — Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health Meeting

December 3 — Washington, DC
December 4 — Washington, DC

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What's New

New Workplace Safety Reporting Requirements Begin in January

OSHA's New Reporting Explained. Click for a larger photo.

Enjoying a healthy and prosperous New Year will take on new meaning for workers across the country in 2015. Beginning on Jan. 1, employers will be required to notify the Occupational Safety and Health Administration of work-related fatalities within eight hours, and work-related in-patient hospitalizations, amputations or losses of an eye within 24 hours. Previously, OSHA's regulations required reports of only work-related fatalities and in-patient hospitalizations of three or more employees. Reporting single hospitalizations, amputations or loss of an eye had not been required. The updated reporting requirements have a life-saving purpose: They will enable employers and workers to prevent future injuries by identifying and eliminating the most serious workplace hazards. "Even one death or injury on the job is one too many, and we can and must do better for American workers," said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. "By requiring employers to report when injuries like this happen, OSHA will be able to work with them to identify dangers and intervene sooner. We will be able to engage with employers not just through inspections, but through outreach to fix hazards before they become fatal."

Read the News Release
Read the Fact Sheet
View the Webpage
Watch the Video

Expanding Opportunities for Youth

Secretary Tom Perez visits the Sarah E. Goode STEM Academy in Chicago, a school that aims to prepare students for college and the world of work. Click for a larger photo.

The department is focused on expanding opportunities for success to as many people as possible. But for more than six million youth who are out of school and not working, these opportunities are hard to come by. And while federal programs exist to help connect these youth to successful training and employment services, administrative barriers sometimes hinder coordination and alignment across various federal programs. To help address this issue, the department is collaborating with four other federal agencies to launch the Performance Partnership Pilot for Disconnected Youth — known as the P3 initiative. This effort will create more flexibility for states and their partners to blend funding streams and develop the most effect employment program. The P3 initiative will fund as many as 10 pilot programs with up to $700,000 in start-up grants. Applications for pilot programs will be accepted until March 4.

Read the Blog Post
Sign up for the Applicant Webinar

National News

Black Friday — Make the Day a Good Deal for Workers, Employers

Black Friday. Read OSHA's Blog.

The crowd lurches forward, a horde on a mission. The doors give way, and the man standing behind the glass is overcome by a rush of bodies. This isn't the latest episode of a zombie TV show. It's Black Friday. Last year, a man was pepper-sprayed over a discounted television, a police officer was sent to the hospital after a brawl outside a mall, and an 11-year- old girl was seriously injured at a store. Without proper crowd management, one of the biggest shopping days of the year can turn dangerous for employees and shoppers alike. As Black Friday draws near, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration wants employers to know that these tragedies can be prevented by putting crowd control plans in place early. And the department's Wage and Hour Division notes that all too often retail employees may work through their shift breaks without compensation as they serve customers or unpack new shipments of goods. Both agencies are seeking to educate employers and protect employees.

Read OSHA's Blog
Read the Wage and Hour Blog
See OSHA's Crowd Management Fact Sheet
See Wage and Hour Rules for Retail Workers

Take Three: The Affordable Care Act

Enrollment through the Health Insurance Marketplace kicked off on Nov. 15, and more than 100,000 people have submitted applications. Phyllis C. Borzi, assistant secretary of labor for employee benefits security, answered three questions on the Affordable Care Act.

What is the Health Insurance Marketplace? The Health Insurance Marketplace was created by the Affordable Care Act, and it's the easiest way to compare plans, shop for health insurance and enroll. Every health insurance plan in the Marketplace offers comprehensive coverage. It's organized so you can compare options based on price, benefits, quality and other features, and it's presented in straightforward language with no fine print or guesswork required. People from every state can access the Marketplace through healthcare.gov. And as of Nov. 15, qualifying employers can enroll online through the Small Business Health Options Program, or SHOP.

Why should people enroll through the Marketplace? Millions of people enrolled last year, and we've heard some incredible stories about how that insurance has made a positive difference in their lives. Last week, Secretary Perez met a man in Tennessee who said, "I would not be standing here today if it wasn't for the ACA." But health insurance doesn't have to be life-saving to be a smart investment. Most people need medical care at some point and health insurance covers the costs, reduces the price of covered care and provides access to free preventive care. Plus, people with Marketplace plans or other qualifying coverage don't have to pay the fee that many people without coverage must pay.

How do I enroll? For coverage starting Jan. 1, 2015, you'll need to enroll by Dec. 15. But enrollment will stay open through Feb. 15, 2015. You can ask questions, compare options and enroll at healthcare.gov, or call 1-800-318-2596 (TTY 1-855-889-4325) to talk with one of the Marketplace's 14,000 call center representatives.

DOL Working for You

'Small Victories' in Job Search Leads to Battle Won

Katherine Hackett. Click for a larger photo.

Facing long-term unemployment that seemed hopeless, Katherine Hackett of Connecticut refused to quit. She sought every opportunity she could find, no matter how great or small. Unemployed since last December, the East Haddam resident recently found a job, thanks, in part, to a technical skills training initiative run by the Eastern Connecticut Workforce Investment Board. Hackett's journey began in July 2013 when she contacted the state labor department after losing her job as the administrator at a nursing home. "I was unaware that programs were available to assist me," she said. Hackett received help from state and federal labor departments, including a meeting with local job center official Sandy Melo, who helped her fine-tune her resume and other credentials. "For someone who had faced rejection after rejection for the past several months, it was the energy I needed to continue my search with confidence," Hackett said. Next, she enrolled in a program for displaced workers with the assistance of Katrina Arnott, an official with a job center in Norwich. "We worked together to identify what her possible barriers to employment might be," Arnott explained. "The largest barrier was change in the health care industry and that there were fewer nursing home administration jobs available." Arnott said Hackett's job hunt took an upturn when they cast a wider net. She persevered, landed an interview at Norwich Orthopedic Group, and secured a job there in July. "The programs that the DOL provides are vital to those who want nothing more than to make a difference by using the talents and skills we have spent a lifetime refining," Hackett said. She said she "received a lot of advice" while unemployed but that the best came from her son, a Marine. "It is important to find small victories," he told her.

Around DOL

Fiercely Focused on Innovation

The leaders in government information technology innovation include the department's manager of web and mobile application development, Mike Pulsifer. FierceGovernment IT, a website for federal employees and IT industry executives, selected Pulsifer as one of its 2014 "Fierce 15" IT leaders, a group recognized for their creative efforts. The publication made its selections based on interviews with government and industry officials. Pulsifer, who works in the Office of Public Affairs, has led departmental initiatives to further develop our Application Programming Interface, allowing novice and advanced developers easy access to the department's data. He also developed and deployed the code for a sample mobile application in Apple's new Swift coding language less than a month after it debuted, demonstrating that government technology shops can be agile and responsive.

See List of Winners
Visit the Developer Website

DOL in Action

More Than 130 Citations, Orders Issued at 12 Coal Mines

Twelve coal mines in seven states were targeted for impact inspections in October, according to the Mine Safety and Health Administration. Federal inspectors issued 127 citations and six orders at specially selected mines in Illinois, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Utah, Virginia and West Virginia last month, bringing the total number of impact inspections to 835 since the program began more than four and a half years ago.

Read the News Release

Nearly $3 Million Recovered for Workers on Federally Funded Projects

The department has secured $2,904,000 in back wages for laborers and mechanics who worked on federally funded construction projects in four New York City boroughs. A federal administrative law judge approved a settlement requiring Larino Masonry Inc., based in Newark, N.J., to pay $1,945,000 in back wages to workers at projects in Manhattan and the Bronx. In a separate case, Larino also agreed to an order to pay $959,000 to workers at projects in Brooklyn and Queens. Larino admitted that it failed to pay its workers the legally required prevailing wage, fringe benefits and overtime, and submitted falsified certified payrolls to a contracting agency. Larino and its company president Juan Luis Larino and vice president Maria Larino have been barred from bidding on federal contracts for the next three years.

Read the News Release
Learn About Government Contract Requirements

$300,000 in Back Wages Secured for Staff, Workers with Disabilities

Training Thru Placement Inc., based in North Providence, R.I., has agreed to pay $300,000 to more than 100 employees, including workers with disabilities. The settlement with the department resolves findings that TTP violated the minimum wage, overtime and record-keeping provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Specifically, TTP allegedly failed to properly determine a subminimum wage for each worker, as allowed under Section 14(c) of the FLSA; properly record and pay employees for all hours worked; determine the prevailing wage rates for workers performing similar work in the area; and conduct appropriate time studies to determine subminimum wage rates. Under the settlement agreement, TTP will provide free benefits counseling to the workers with disabilities who are owed the majority of the back wages, at no cost to those workers, their families and guardians.

Read the News Release
Learn About Section 14(c)

Texas Metal Fabricator Fails to Correct Hazardous Conditions

Metal workers at Steel Fabrication Services Inc. are continually being exposed to amputation hazards, according to an inspection. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited the Farmers Branch, Texas, company for 15 violations, including two willful, two repeat and two failure-to-abate, after it failed to correct hazardous conditions previously cited that exposed employees to serious injury or death. OSHA began its follow-up inspection in May and has proposed $135,880 in civil penalties.

Read the News Release

Philadelphia Union to Rerun Officer Election

The Philadelphia Security Officers Union recently agreed to conduct new nominations and an election for president, vice president, secretary, treasurer, assistant secretary and sergeant-at-arms under supervision of the Office of Labor-Management Standards. An investigation of the Pennsylvania union's April 2014 election disclosed that it failed to elect officers by secret ballot, provide proper and timely notice of nominations, and mail the election notice to each member's last known home address. The new election will be held on or before March 24.

Texas Stone Fabricator Faulted for Crushing Hazards

Berry Marble and Granite has been cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for exposing workers to crushing hazards at its Tyler, Texas, facility. During the inspection that began in May, OSHA found that the company failed to ensure that slings used to handle granite, marble and stone were marked with their rated capacities, and damaged slings were not removed from service. The company faces $156,310 in penalties.

Read the News Release

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