United States Department of Labor

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December 11, 2014
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By The Numbers By The Numbers: $100 million the largest federal investment in apprenticeship.

Work In Progress: The Best of Our Blog

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

Fast Food Myths and Wages: Insights from five business owners who pay above the minimum wage because they understand that doing so is good for their workers and for the bottom line.

Your Feedback Is Needed: To gain insight, shed light and spur action on disability issues, the Partnership on Employment and Accessible Technology is conducting a nationwide survey about the accessibility of online job applications and other related systems, Assistant Secretary of Labor Kathy Martinez writes.

Accidental Activist, Calculated Warrior: When Mia Macy's employment discrimination adventure began, she set one goal: no one else should go through the workplace discrimination she faced.

Good Health in the Garden State

At Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center in Camden, N.J., on Dec. 11, Secretary Perez greets Adrian Martinez, who enrolled for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act marketplace. Click for a larger photo.

About 50,000 residents of New Jersey's Camden County had no health insurance before the Affordable Care Act. Many sought treatment at emergency rooms or avoided it altogether because of the cost — but that's all different now. About 10,000 enrolled in a health plan through the Marketplace last year, and more than 12,000 signed up for Medicaid. On Dec. 11, Secretary Perez joined Camden Mayor Dana Redd to meet with navigators and financial counselors, tour a critical care unit and participate in a roundtable discussion with local faith-based organizations and others who have contributed to Camden's enrollment success. "The reforms enacted by the ACA are making a powerful difference in the lives of millions of people," said Perez. Enrollment is open through Feb. 15, 2015.

Visit healthcare.gov

Grant for Work Share

The department awarded $1.2 million to the State of Oregon on Dec. 10 to enhance its short-time compensation program, also known as work sharing. "Short-time compensation, and programs like it, gives employers the tools they need to keep skilled workers during a temporary dip in business," said Secretary Perez. "Oregon is leading by example by making this innovative program available to more employers." STC allows employees to keep their jobs — and benefits such as employer-based retirement and health insurance — and helps employers retain skilled workers and avoid the costs of hiring and training new workers when the business recovers.

Read the News Release

Back Wages for Oil and Gas Workers

Thousands of workers employed by natural gas extraction contractors in the Marcellus Shale region of Pennsylvania and West Virginia are putting in a fair day's work but not receiving a fair day's pay, according to the Wage and Hour Division. An ongoing multiyear enforcement initiative conducted by division offices in Wilkes-Barre and Pittsburgh from 2012 to 2014 found significant violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Consequently, employers agreed to pay $4,498,547 in back wages to 5,310 employees. The majority of violations were due to improper payment of overtime. In some cases, employees' production bonuses were not included in the regular rate of pay to determine the correct overtime rate of pay. Investigators attribute the labor violations in part to the industry's structure. "The oil and gas industry is one of the most fissured industries. Job sites that used to be run by a single company can now have dozens of smaller contractors performing work, which can create downward economic pressure on lower level subcontractors," said Dr. David Weil, administrator of the Wage and Hour Division. "Given the fissured landscape, this is an industry ripe for noncompliance."

Read the News Release

Fiduciaries Must Return $4.7 Million

A federal judge has found that James Doyle and Cynthia Holloway, fiduciaries to the Professional Industrial Trade Workers Union Health and Welfare Fund, a defunct national multi-employer benefit plan based in Cherry Hill, N.J., are liable for approximately $4.7 million in assets that were improperly diverted from the plan. The decision resulted from a lawsuit filed by the department stemming from an investigation conducted by the Employee Benefits Security Administration. "Doyle used this benefit plan as the guise for an illegal money-making scheme that jeopardized the well-being of countless workers and their families," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employee Benefits Security Phyllis C. Borzi. "Holloway was in a position to put an end to the fraud, but failed to act."

Read the News Release

Equality for All at Work

Shortly after announcing a final rule to prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, Director of Federal Contract Compliance Patricia A. Shiu served on a panel at the Gay and Lesbian Victory Institute's annual conference in Washington, D.C. She was joined on the panel by Reps. Mark Pocan and Mark Takano, and transgender equality advocate Mara Keisling. In her remarks, Shiu discussed the new rule, which is subject to enforcement by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, and encouraged the audience of about 300 LGBT advocates and elected officials to alert the department to issues of discrimination. Shiu said, "We intend to bring to bear all our resources and passion and commitment."

Learn More About the Rule

Prevailing Wage Process

Wage and Hour Division Administrator Dr. David Weil addresses the Painters & Allied Trades Labor Management Cooperation Initiative Finishing Industries Forum in Las Vegas on Dec. 8, 2014. Click for a larger photo.

The Wage and Hour Division is taking a more strategic approach to enforcing wage requirements in government contracts and seeking ways to improve its prevailing wage survey process. Division Administrator Dr. David Weil addressed this and other topics before about 500 people on Dec. 8 at the Painters & Allied Trades Labor Management Cooperation Initiative Finishing Industries Forum in Las Vegas. "Since the Great Depression, the Davis-Bacon Act has protected workers' right to receive the local prevailing wage — keeping government and big business from undercutting local contractors, local workers and local economies," said Weil. "Most importantly, the Davis-Bacon Act guarantees a fair day's pay for a fair day's work."

Read Blog Post on Strategic Enforcement

Former Secretary Honored

Carl Fillichio, senior advisor, Office of Public Affairs (right) presents William Usery, former Secretary of Labor, with a congratulatory letter from Secretary Perez. Click for a larger photo.

Georgia Military College honored former Secretary of Labor William J. Usery for his lifetime of achievements at a hometown ceremony in Milledgeville, Ga. The event was held at Usery Hall, named for the proud alumnus of the prep school and junior college in central Georgia. The event's highlight came when Usery cut the ceremonial ribbon to mark the grand opening of the college's community room. The newly opened room is adorned with pictures and memorabilia celebrating Usery's remarkable career, including advising five presidents on labor issues; successfully mediating numerous labor strikes and protecting the labor rights of millions of workers. Carl Fillichio, senior advisor and head of the Office of Public Affairs at the Department of Labor, delivered the keynote remarks and presented Usery with a congratulatory letter signed by Secretary Perez. "I have spent my life trying to bring people together," said Usery, 91, at the close of the event. "I want my legacy to be that of a peacemaker and a problem solver."

Learn More About Secretary Usery

Partnership Pact in Colorado

Dr. David Weil, administrator of the Wage and Hour Division (right) with Jeff Fitzgerald, director, Unemployment Insurance Division, Colorado Department of Labor and Employment after signing the renewal of a partnership agreement to combat worker misclassification. Click for a larger photo.

In recent years, the employment relationship between workers and businesses has become more unclear as companies contract out or shed activities due to a fissured industry landscape. This trend can lead to wage violations, such as worker misclassification. That may deny workers critical benefits and protections, such as family and medical leave, overtime, minimum wage and unemployment insurance, to which they are entitled. To combat this problem, the department is partnering with states across the country to more effectively share information and conduct joint compliance assistance. On Dec. 5, Wage and Hour Administrator Dr. David Weil traveled to Denver to renew a partnership agreement to combat worker misclassification between the division and the Unemployment Insurance Division of the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. Dr. Weil stated, "This memorandum of understanding sends a clear message that we are standing together with the state of Colorado to protect workers and responsible employers and ensure everyone has the opportunity to succeed."

Learn About the Misclassification Initiative

Community Outreach in Seattle

AAPI community members met with Department of Labor representatives in Seattle, Wash., to discuss how the federal government can serve the AAPI community better. Click for a larger photo.

To connect with the Asian-American Pacific Islanders community and understand what they need from federal agencies, the Women's Bureau participated in a recent White House Asian-American Pacific Islanders Regional Interagency Working Group hosted by the Environmental Protection Agency. The working group met Dec. 3-4 at the EPA's offices in Seattle, along with representatives from the Occupational Health and Safety Administration and the Wage and Hour Division. Community leaders told the working group that federal agencies need to engage with local service providers and policy makers to better understand the communities' needs.

California Growers Workshop

Joining efforts to protect workers in agriculture are (left to right) Wage and Hour Division Investigator Billy Lee, WHD Regional Agriculture Enforcement Coordinator Ruben Lugo, Nisei Farmers League President Manuel Cunha, Chris Valadez, California Fresh Fruit Association, and WHD Regional Administrator Ruben Rosalez, at the MSPA training workshop in Fresno, December 4. Click for a larger photo.

Nearly 90 growers, labor contractors and stakeholders in the Fresno, Calif., area took part in a recent workshop conducted by the Wage and Hour Division on the requirements under the Migrant and Seasonal Agriculture Worker Protection Act. The Nisei Farmers League and the Fresno County Farm Bureau Federation sponsored the Dec. 4 event. Western Regional Administrator Ruben Rosalez addressed the group, asking farmers and association members to help set standards for compliance, particularly in farmworker transportation safety. The presenters fielded questions related to vehicle inspection and safety requirements, vehicle insurance and driver licensing. "These stakeholder meetings are an essential part of getting the message out to the grower community," said Rick Newton, district director in Sacramento.

Disability Inclusion

The Office of Personnel Management reports that hiring of people with disabilities in the federal government is on the rise. In Fiscal Year 2013, the federal government hired people with disabilities at the highest rate in 33 years. Among all new hires in fiscal year 2013, 18 percent were people with disabilities, representing a 1.9 percent annual increase. The report is prepared each year under a 2010 executive order by President Obama, who directed federal agencies to increase the recruitment, hiring and retention of people with disabilities. The Office of Disability Employment Policy helps implement the order using resources and activities such as the Workforce Recruitment Program and eFedLink.

Read the Report
Read the OPM Blog Post
Find Disability Employment Resources

Visa Worker Assistance

The Wage and Hour Division and California's Employment Development Department provided technical assistance on the H-2A visa worker program to dozens of farm labor contractors, business owners, agricultural associations and attorneys at a Dec. 2 event in Santa Maria. The topics of discussion (in English and Spanish sessions) were the wage, transportation and housing requirements under the H-2A program. The state workforce agency also trained participants on the H-2A application process with plans to lead future training sessions regionally in 2015.

Curtailing Davis-Bacon Violations

A $164 million residential development and renovation project at New Mexico's Cannon Air Force Base is the current focus of a Wage and Hour Division enforcement initiative by the Albuquerque District Office. The initiative aims to curtail violations of the Davis-Bacon and the Contract Work Hours and Safety Standards acts, which ensure construction workers are paid proper prevailing wages and benefits. The project calls for construction of 677 new homes and renovation of 361 others and is scheduled for completion in August 2018.

Data on Working Women

What does work look like for America's women? In 2013, women employed full time earned about $706 per week — just 82 percent of their male counterparts' earnings. About 36 percent of women working full time had children younger than 18. Women were also more likely to earn the minimum wage — or less than their male counterparts. These findings come from a recent Bureau of Labor Statistics report based on the Current Population Survey, a national monthly U.S. Census Bureau survey of approximately 60,000 households.

Read the Report

Weekly UI Claims

The department reported the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial Unemployment Insurance claims was 294,000 for the week ended Dec. 6, a decrease of 3,000 from the previous week's unrevised level. The four-week moving average was 299,250, up 250 from the previous week's unrevised average.

Read the News Release

Upcoming Deadlines & Events

Open Funding Opportunities

OFCCP — AAP Requirements for Recently Scheduled Supply and Service Contractors

December 18 — Dallas, TX

OFCCP — Revised Supply and Service Scheduling Letter and Itemized Listing

December 16 — Houston, TX
January 8 — Los Angeles, CA

OFCCP — Section 503 and VEVRAA Regulations

January 29 — Houston, TX

OFCCP — Understanding AAP Requirements

January 8 — Houston, TX

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What's New

Championing Apprenticeship With a $100 Million Grant Competition

Tyler Buck (left), an apprentice with the Urban Technology Project, demonstrates certified warranty repairs for Apple computers to U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez (beside Buck), Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, and Philadelphia Schools Superintendent, Dr. William Hite (right) on Dec. 11, 2014. Click for a larger photo.

U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez announced a $100 million grant competition — the largest federal investment in apprenticeships ever made — on Dec. 11 during a visit to Philadelphia's Urban Technology Project. The project is a partnership with the School District of Philadelphia and Communities in Schools that offers a two-year Computer Support Specialist registered apprenticeship program to local high school graduates. The grant expands registered apprenticeships from the traditional skilled trades to new high-tech, high-demand industries like health care, information technology, and advanced manufacturing. These grants are a major step toward President Obama's goal of doubling the number of apprenticeships in the next five years. Interested applicants have until April 30, 2015, to submit a grant application. The program provides training that leads to technical credentials and certificates from companies like Apple and Dell and offers a pathway to the middle class for Philadelphia public school graduates.

Read the News Release
Read the Blog Post

Cybersecurity Opportunities at Maryland Community College

During their tour of Montgomery College, Secretary Perez (left) and Secretary Pritzker listen in as cybersecurity student Kolawole Oyekanmi explains how the recent TAACCCT grant will help provide students with the tools and technologies necessary to develop, practice, and validate in-demand skills. Click for a larger photo.

With an estimated 210,000 available jobs — including 20,000 in Maryland alone — opportunities abound in the growing cybersecurity field. For job seekers in Maryland, the path to these positions is getting a boost from a $15 million grant originally announced in September through the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training initiative. Montgomery College is leading the effort that includes 14 colleges across the state. On Dec. 10, Secretary Perez and U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker visited Montgomery College's Germantown campus to highlight the TAACCCT-funded Cyber-Technology Pathways Across Maryland initiative. During their visit, they toured the cybersecurity lab and met with faculty and students to learn how the grant will enhance and expand the program. In a roundtable discussion on the impact of the grant, Mahesh Kalva, chief technology officer for Enterprise IT and Data Solutions at nearby Lockheed Martin, talked about becoming one of the more than 70 employer and community partners in the grant, and how it helps them identify and attract the best and brightest talent. Ben Edson, president and chief executive officer of VariQ — which has grown from two employees in 2008 to 200 and plans to add another 100 over the next year — noted that he views this partnership as a crucial piece of their expansion plans. "We need employees who can not only hit the ground running, but can grow into new positions as our company changes," said Edson.

Find a TAACCCT-Funded Program

Promoting Paid Leave in New Jersey

Secretary Perez discusses paid sick and parental leave policies at a roundtable hosted at Rutgers University in New Jersey on Dec. 11. Click for a larger photo.

"Getting sick or caring for a loved one shouldn't jeopardize your financial well-being," said Secretary Perez during a roundtable discussion on paid sick and parental leave policies at New Jersey's Rutgers University on Dec. 11. The state is one of three with a paid family leave insurance program and seven of its 567 municipalities have passed ordinances to extend paid-leave benefits to workers in these communities. The roundtable brought mayors and other elected leaders together with employers, workers, and worker advocate organizations to discuss the importance of paid leave, not just for the individual or family, but for the economy at-large. The United States remains one of the only industrialized nations without any form of guaranteed parental leave.

Read the Blog Post
Watch the Paid Leave Video

National News

Honoring the Contributions and Sacrifices of Miners, Past and Present

Secretary Perez (left) and Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health Joseph A. Main pause for a photo with a miner from Cumberland Coal Resources LP in Waynesburg, Pa., on Dec. 1. Click for a larger photo.

Hundreds of products that make our lives easier — from electronics to cookware to electricity to toothpaste — began as ore plied from the ground by a special breed of worker. Each day, nearly 375,000 miners extract the earth's minerals, including coal, gold, copper, silver, granite, limestone, granite, salt and gravel. On Dec. 6, America acknowledged the men and women who's truly hard work impacts the quality of our lives by commemorating National Miners Day. Designated by Congressional resolution in 2009 to honor the contributions and sacrifices of miners, both past and present, the date honors 362 miners lost in 1907 in Monongah, W.Va., in the worst industrial mine accident in American history. "Miners and mining are vital to our economy," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health Joseph Main. "But even more, they are a key part of our nation's identity, representing fortitude, determination and spirit."

Read the News Release
Read Assistant Secretary Main's Blog
Read Secretary Perez's Blog
Watch the Video

$12 Million in Grants Available for National Guard Training Program

Youth with juvenile records often face real barriers to career success and high rates of recidivism. A $12 million grant availability announced Dec. 10 by the department offers training and experiences for young people to help overcome these barriers and find good jobs. The grant builds on the successful National Guard Youth Challenge by expanding eligibility to include youth once in the juvenile justice system. ChalleNGe is a five-month residential program at local National Guard bases or nearby facilities. It instills military-based discipline and training combined with educational instruction, experiential learning and mentoring. Existing National Guard Youth ChalleNGe programs are eligible to apply for the grants. The funding will be used to facilitate partnerships with the justice system to recruit interested court-involved youth and provide them with education and training to obtain an industry-recognized credential.

Read the News Release

International Scene

How Our Northern Neighbors Help Working Families

U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez meets with Canadian Minister of Labour and Status of Women Kellie Leitch Dec. 8, 2014 during a visit to discuss family-friendly workplace policies in Gatineau, Canada. Click for a larger photo.

A visit to the Canadian capital of Ottawa on Dec. 8 allowed Secretary Perez to explore the effects of family-friendly labor policies in Canada, including paid leave and child-care subsidies. Perez has called on the United States to take the lead on paid leave, and his trip north continued his effort to study foreign models that give people tools to better balance their work-life responsibilities. Canada's paid-leave program started more than 40 years ago, and provides a national child care subsidy for working parents, with some provinces offering additional benefits. The tour included meetings with U.S. Ambassador Bruce Heyman, Canadian government officials, employers, workers, union leaders, parents, and paid-leave experts and advocates. At the University of Ottawa roundtable, Perez spoke with parents, advocates and experts all of whom offered perspectives on family-friendly workplace policies and programs. In a meeting with union leaders, the secretary discussed the labor movement in Canada and the economic growth of the middle class.

In China Dialogue, Focus on Job Creation and Training

Deputy Secretary Christopher P. Lu (left) and Chinese State Administration of Work Safety Minister Yang Dongliang discuss mutual challenges and strategies to protect workers from occupational hazards. Click for a larger photo.

To continue the department's mission to promote workers' rights, improve working conditions, ensure wage equality and create job opportunities for all, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Labor Christopher P. Lu traveled to China to meet with his counterparts in Beijing and Zhengzhou. There, Lu discussed shared challenges and strategies for preparing workers to meet the demands of a globalized economy. The visit began with a dialogue between the department and the Chinese Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, where sessions focused on job creation and training, specifically for women, youth and veterans. The deputy secretary also met with representatives from the State Administration of Work Safety, visited two job centers and held a consultation meeting with local stakeholders hosted by the China Institute of Labor and Social Security. Other principals accompanying Lu included Portia Wu, assistant secretary of labor for employment and training; Teresa Gerton, deputy assistant secretary of labor for veterans employment and training; and Zhao Li, deputy director of international relations for the Bureau of International Labor Affairs.

Roundtable on Disability and International Labor Rights

The Bureau of International Labor Affairs strives to ensure that workers around the world are treated fairly and able to share in the benefits of the global economy. An important part of ILAB's mission is protecting the labor rights of vulnerable populations, which include persons with disabilities. On Dec. 9, ILAB hosted a roundtable in Washington, D.C., to help promote the rights of persons with disabilities in its policy and bilateral and multilateral engagements. Panelists included Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy Kathy Martinez, State Department Special Advisor on International Disability Rights Judith Heumann, Coordinator of USAID's Office on Disability and Inclusive Development Charlotte McClain-Nhlapo, and others from the International Labour Organization and the AFL-CIO Solidarity Center. They discussed the tangible and intangible barriers faced by persons with disabilities in accessing education, training and employment; the reasons and causes of labor rights abuses against persons with disabilities, including child labor, forced labor and human trafficking; and the particular vulnerabilities of persons with disabilities within marginalized groups.

Learn More about Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities at ILAB

It Happened on the Hill

Senate Hearing Focuses on Chemical Safety

Fifteen people were killed and more than 160 were injured when an ammonium nitrate explosion leveled the West Fertilizer Co. storage and distribution facility in West, Texas, in April 2013. Following the deadly accident, President Obama issued Executive Order 13650, which tasked an interagency working group co-chaired by the departments of Labor and Homeland Security and the Environmental Protection Agency with improving chemical facility safety and security in the United States. On Dec. 11, Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health, delivered testimony to a joint hearing of the U.S. Senate Committees on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions and Environment and Public Works on progress the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has made towards the goals of the executive order. Michaels testified alongside Mathy Stanislaus, assistant administrator for solid waste and emergency response for the EPA, and both answered questions from committee members about the working group's ongoing efforts and challenges.

Learn About the Executive Order
Read Assistant Secretary Michaels' Testimony

Pulling Together to Reduce Veteran Homelessness

In 2009, President Obama announced his goal to end the scourge of veteran homelessness before the end of 2015. With a hefty decline of 33 percent since 2010, the goal is growing closer to being met. Amid an unprecedented level of collaboration between federal agencies, the Inter-Agency Task Force on Homelessness, chaired by Secretary Perez, has been critical in the effort. On Dec. 8, the House Veterans Affairs Committee held a hearing to listen as community leaders and government officials shared their thoughts on this progress. Assistant Secretary of Labor for Veterans' Employment and Training Keith Kelly was joined by Lisa Pape of the Department of Veterans Affairs and Jennifer Ho of the Department of Housing and Urban Development on a panel at the hearing. The assistant secretary discussed the various VETS grant programs that target veteran homelessness. Kelly also noted that these programs succeed "not only because of the hard work and local connections of our grantees, but also because of the collaborative efforts of our government partners."

Learn About VETS

DOL Working for You

Job Fairs a Key Component of Recruitment for Security Company

Major Geraldine Farris. Click for a larger photo.

For Major Geraldine Farris of Securitas USA, recruiting hundreds of security officers for the company is a year-round job. She says her recruitment efforts depend on job fairs like the one organized by the San Bernardino County Workforce Investment Board. "Job fairs provide me with experienced, high-caliber candidates to fill many vacancies in Southern California," Farris said. Securitas USA recently participated in WIB-sponsored job fairs in San Bernardino, Ontario and Victorville, all of which were funded, in part, by the Employment and Training Administration. Fairs around the country receive ETA funds as part of the Workforce Investment Act. Once again, the job fairs paid off for Farris. She recruited 20 full-time and 10 part-time employees and 160 more temporary staff members for special events. "I'm able to meet people face-to-face and get a feel for what sort of person I am hiring rather than just reviewing applications online." In the past 15 years, Farris has helped bring hundreds of men and women — many of them veterans — into the workforce. Now 78, Farris has received many letters of thanks from past attendees but admits she could not have done it without ETA-sponsored job fairs. "The county, state and the Department of Labor — Bless them for bringing everyone together at these job fairs."

DOL in Action

Underwater Diver's Death in Florida Results in 19 Violations

Following the death of a 45-year-old untrained diver on June 10, Ric-Man International Inc., of Pompano Beach, Fla., was cited for 19 safety violations by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The employee died while completing surface-supplied air diving during underwater construction activities for the City of Weston. A willful citation was issued for failure to provide cave-in protection for employees working inside an excavation approximately 12 feet deep. Other violations involved failure to ensure workers who performed diving operations were experienced and trained to conduct underwater tasks safely; provide divers with a backup air supply, safety harness and two-way voice communication for emergencies; and plan and assess risks associated with diving, including underwater conditions, obstructions and visibility.

Read the News Release

California Company Ordered to Pay $100,000 in Back Wages, Penalties

Southern California gate and fence manufacturer Eli Industries Inc. will pay $93,400 in back wages and damages to 30 workers after an investigation by the Wage and Hour Division. The Chatsworth-based employer failed to pay employees overtime for almost two years. Consequently, the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California entered a consent judgment that orders payment of $46,700 in overtime back wages and $46,700 in damages, as well as $6,600 in civil penalties due to the willful nature of the violations.

Read the News Release

Nebraska Food Company Faulted in Death of Worker

Violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's confined spaces safety regulations led to the June death of a 23-year-old worker at Michael Foods Inc. in Wakefield, Neb. The worker was found unresponsive in a tanker truck at the company's Big Red Farms facility. He had been conducting sampling of the tank, which contained egg products and nitrogen. OSHA has cited the company for five serious safety violations. "This tragedy could have been prevented had the employer implemented basic safety precautions associated with confined spaces and nitrogen exposure." said Bonita Winingham, OSHA's area director in Omaha.

Read the News Release

Idaho Restaurant Chain to Pay $230,000 in Unpaid Overtime, Damages

A Boise, Idaho-area restaurant chain will pay $230,000 in back wages and damages to 51 employees after overtime violations were uncovered at four locations. Investigators with the Wage and Hour Division found that Chapala Mexican Restaurant failed to compensate cooks, tipped employees and other staff for all hours worked, plus the required time and one-half for hours exceeding 40 per week. "Chapala systemically underpaid dozens of employees for overtime hours worked," said Thomas Silva, the division's acting district director in Portland, Ore. "Those workers will now get the wages they earned."

Read the News Release

Maryland Businessman Sentenced for Bilking Union Benefits

A contractor who did business with International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 24 in Baltimore, recently was sentenced to three years of supervised probation and ordered to pay $89,222 in restitution for falsifying documents required by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act. Michael E. Sewell, the owner and operator of MESCO, plead guilty in August before the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland to knowingly underreporting the hours of work for his employees. MESCO was required to contribute funds based on the total number of hours worked to the benefit plans of employees represented by IBEW Local 24, an electrical union. An investigation by the Office of Labor-Management Standards, Employee Benefits Security Administration and the Office of Inspector General found Sewell intentionally underreported the number of hours the employees worked and did not make the benefit plan contributions.

Cave-in Protection Missing at Trenching Operation in Illinois

Two workers installing a water main in Morton Grove, Ill., were exposed to cave-in hazards that can bury a person in mere minutes by their employer, A. Lamp Concrete Contractors Inc., which failed to provide necessary protection during trenching operations. As part of its National Emphasis Program for Trenching and Excavation, an Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspector witnessed two workers in a trench more than 8-feet deep without cave-in protection. For one willful violation, OSHA proposed a $69,300 fine. OSHA mandates that all excavations 5 feet or deeper be protected against collapse.

Read the News Release

Machine Operator Suffers Severe Injuries in Power Press

An Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigation has determined that a 44-year-old machine operator suffered severe injuries because Parker Hannifin Corp. failed to properly maintain machine guarding in a power press at its Lewisburg, Ohio, plant. The employee was caught between the upper and lower die in the press on Sept. 17 while he trimmed a forged tube fitting part. The company has been issued one repeat citation and two serious safety violations, and OSHA has proposed penalties totaling $52,500.

Read the News Release

Texas Steel Manufacturer Failed to Properly Train Workers

Employees of JSW Steel (USA) Inc. in Baytown, Texas, were not properly trained on how to safely de-energize machinery and conduct periodic audits of those procedures. An inspection in June by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration found the company violated 12 safety standards, failing to conduct periodic inspections and develop lockout/tagout procedures to power off a metal cutting machine safely during maintenance and servicing. Serious violations were cited for failing to affix lockout or tagout safeguards on dangerous machinery and failing to train employees performing machine maintenance.

Read the News Release

Proper Machine Guarding Could Have Prevented Worker's Death

The death of a 21-year-old machine operator who was crushed while reaching into a machine to align parts made for Chrysler vehicles was preventable, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration found. After a June investigation at Ventra Belvidere LLC, OSHA cited the Belvidere, Ill., facility for one willful and four serious safety violations for exposing workers to dangerous machinery and other hazards. "This tragic death was preventable if Ventra Belvidere ensured proper machine guarding," said Jacob Scott, OSHA's area director in Aurora.

Read the News Release

Retaliation Case Hits Hanford Nuclear Contractor

Computer Sciences Corp. improperly laid off two employees for raising safety concerns at the Hanford nuclear facility in Washington State, and violated federal whistleblower laws. As a result, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has ordered CSC to pay the employees $186,000 in wages. The workers reported that an electronic medical records system was failing to track medical restrictions. Workers medically restricted from certain jobs or areas with beryllium could be exposed. A metal once used at the facility, beryllium can cause lung damage. "Those working around or for a nuclear facility must raise safety concerns freely without fear of retaliation from their bosses," said Ken Atha, acting OSHA regional administrator.

Read the News Release

Moving Machinery Cited in Death at Colorado Meat Packing Plant

Failure to provide protection from moving machinery parts led to the death of a 54-year-old worker at a meat packing plant in Greeley, Colo., according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. An OSHA inspection at JBS USA LLC in June determined that the worker was fatally injured when his hair and arm became caught in an unguarded conveyor system. OSHA's Denver Area Office cited the meat packing plant for one repeat violation for exposing workers to severe injuries from lack of machine guarding, such as crushed fingers or hands, burns, amputations or blindness. OSHA also cited the company for a serious violation for failure to properly control energy sources on machinery during service and maintenance.

Read the News Release

Construction Workers Knowingly Endangered During Excavation

Vallencourt Construction Co. Inc., of Middleburg, Fla., knowingly endangered employees at a residential construction site by allowing them to work in an unprotected excavation in St. Augustine. In June, Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspectors cited Vallencourt for two willful and five serious safety violations. OSHA found, in addition to the absence of cave-in protection, the company failed to ensure soil and rocks were 2 feet from the excavation's edge to prevent these materials from falling on top of and injuring workers. Other violations were issued for Vallencourt's failure to conduct inspections on equipment used to lift construction materials, remove damaged lifting equipment from service, and use lifting equipment in a way not intended by its manufacturer. Proposed penalties total $169,000.

Read the News Release

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