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DOL News Brief

February 3, 2011

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State of the Administration

Secretary Solis delivers remarks at the State of the Administration Speakers Series.

As part of the Obama Administration's efforts to engage its global partners, Secretary Solis headlined the State of the Administration Speakers Series on Wednesday. Addressing more than 100 ambassadors and Chargés d'Affaires, as well as Department of State officials at Blair House, Solis outlined DOL's efforts on the international stage. "Providing good and safe jobs for everyone is our goal at the U.S. Department of Labor. But it is my hope that our goal is one that we can all strive for in this global community and in this integrated global economy," she said.


Mr. Prez (of Press)

Secretary Solis swears in Mark Hamrick

It had all the pomp and flourish an inauguration should have: speeches, video tributes, lots of journalists and a high-ranking government official to swear-in the new president. Secretary Solis officiated at the swearing-in ceremony of the Associated Press' Mark Hamrick as the 104th president of the famed National Press Club. Although much of the festive evening was tongue-in-cheek, Solis used the opportunity to send a message of support to the journalism community. "The people who you cover — and that includes me — may not always like what you report, and we won't always agree with what you report, but know this: we will always celebrate, respect, and defend your right to do it," she said.


Talking Jobs with Business Leaders at Prayer Breakfast

Secretary Solis addresses CEOs following the Prayer Breakfast.

Secretary Solis joined President Obama, Vice President Biden, and dignitaries from around the world at the 59th National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C. More than 3,000 individuals from at least 130 countries heard inspirational testimonies of faith from President Obama, film maker and writer Randall Wallace (Braveheart, Pearl Harbor, Secretariat), Chilean miner Jose Enrqiuez, and Captain Mark Kelly, husband of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. The prayer breakfast, hosted annually by members of Congress is an opportunity for leaders from various nationalities, religions and political orientations to come together and build their relationships. Immediately following the breakfast, Secretary Solis met with a group of 50 corporate executives to discuss how business can work with the Department of Labor to help train and employ workers. "Whether you're a business or a worker, we all need to come together as a community to keep the economy moving forward and get Americans back to work," said Solis.


Upcoming Deadlines & Events

Check out the grant opportunities with DOL.

Open Funding Opportunities

Event Spotlight: OFCCP — Increasing Employment Opportunities for Disabled Individuals and Veterans

Veterans

The Office of Federal Contact Compliance Programs will be in Millington, Tenn., to talk about increasing employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities and protected veterans. OFCCP is in the process of updating its regulations to strengthen affirmative action for these communities.

MSHA — Arkansas Mine Safety and Health Conference

OFCCP — Compliance Assistance Seminar

OFCCP — Agency Educational Presentation

OFCCP — Compliance Assistance Seminar for Construction Contractors

OFCCP — Community Connections

OFCCP — Compliance Assistance Seminar for Supply and Service Contractors

OFCCP — Information Session with Native American CBOs

OFCCP — Job Corps Academy: Community Relations Council

OFCCP — National Council of Negro Women

OFCCP — New York Construction Union Education Exchange Forum

OFCCP — Outreach Activity

OFCCP — Outreach Meeting: Advocate for Persons with Disabilities

OFCCP — Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973

OFCCP — Women's Advisory Counsel Meeting

OLMS — Compliance Assistance Seminar

OSHA — 12th Annual Safety Day

MSHA — Mine Safety, Health and Environmental Conference

MSHA — Public Hearing on Proposed Rule to End Black Lung

WB — Women Working Together: Writing the Next Chapter of herSTORY

OLMS Compliance Assistance Seminar


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What's Hot

My Next Move: New Online Tool to Help Chart Pathways to Careers

My Next Move

Charting one's course in terms of career, education and training is challenging. The U.S. Department of Labor can help. My Next Move is the newest addition to the department's lineup of innovative online career research tools. Whether you are a student working on your next move into college or career training; a first-time worker looking at what your next move might be to enter the workforce; or an experienced professional mapping out your next career option, My Next Move has something for you.


News You Can Use

Wage Hour Talks Prevailing Wages and the Recovery Act

The Wage and Hour Division created a YouTube video explaining the Davis-Bacon Act for the President's Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board. The Act gives the department authority to determine the payment of local prevailing wage and fringe benefit payments for laborers and mechanics working under contracts with the federal government and the District of Columbia. The video includes an overview of the law and its application to projects funded through the Recovery Act, and additional resources available to the public.


DOL Working for You

DOL Helps Ex-Auto Worker Succeed in Law Enforcement

Larry Mazur

Three weeks before his wife delivered triplet boys, Larry Mazur received the grim news — he was being laid-off from his supervisor position at a Michigan automotive manufacturing facility. Although admittedly feeling "pretty rotten" about his prospects, Mazur went to Michigan Works!, a program funded by DOL, for career counseling. There he learned the program would pay the $4,500 tuition for him to enroll in a local police academy and pursue his dream job in law enforcement. After sixteen intensive weeks of training in the law, police tactics, driving and shooting, Mazur was one of only two graduates out of a class of 230 enrollees to be offered a job as a police officer in a neighboring township. Mazur said the program "encouraged me to pursue my dream and helped me succeed."

Job Corps Grad Plans to Help Military Families

Alexis Baker

Alexis Baker was in between jobs and unclear about what she wanted to do with her life, when a family member mentioned the nursing courses offered at the Hawaii Job Corps. That advice — and a chance meeting with the Obamas — has lead Baker down an educational path aimed at counseling military families whose members have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. Baker enrolled and eventually graduated from Job Corps with a health occupation certificate. While working at a pharmacy, she parlayed that experience into earning an associate degree at a two-year college and is finishing her studies in social work at Hawai'i Pacific University. While her husband currently serves in Iraq, Baker hopes to put her education to good use, offering help to families coping with the absence of loved ones serving abroad. This desire was reinforced from a chance Christmas meeting with the President and Mrs. Obama at a Hawaiian military base. Baker was impressed with how humble and interested the President and First Lady were towards the troops they met and she hopes to do likewise. Baker said Job Corps set the stage for her decision to help military people, "gave me the opportunity to attend college," and pushed her "to do my very best."


DOL in Action

Grant to Assist Florida Workers Affected by Mortgage Industry Layoffs

The department this week provided a $707,096 National Emergency Grant increment to continue services to 600 workers affected by the closure of the Taylor, Bean and Whitaker Mortgage Corp. and its subsidiary companies. "As with all other members of the nation's workforce who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own, it is important that impacted mortgage industry workers in Florida get our support," said Secretary Solis. "Ensuring these workers can access the training and employment services needed to enter new jobs in promising industries is the right thing to do for them, their families and our economy."

OSHA Cites New York Manufacturer for New and Uncorrected Hazards

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Oberdorfer LLC, a Syracuse, N.Y., manufacturer, for 28 alleged violations of workplace health and safety standards, including failing to correct hazards cited during a previous OSHA inspection. OSHA found that the company continued to fail to implement engineering controls to reduce workers' exposure to silica. The company was also issued a willful citation for lack of respiratory protection and 25 serious and other than serious citations for fall, electrical, exit access, recordkeeping and other silica-related conditions. It faces a total of $220,000 in proposed fines.

MSHA Committed to Tougher Stance on Problem Mines Through Reg.

A proposed rule that would revise a key enforcement tool of the Mine Safety and Health Administration has been published in the Federal Register. The Pattern of Violations proposed regulation would allow the agency greater latitude in clamping down on mine operations with a history of serious health and safety violations. "As I've said many times before, the current POV system is broken, and this regulation is the next critical step in reforming the enforcement program under the existing statute," said Joseph A. Main, assistant secretary of labor for MSHA. West Virginia Sen. Jay Rockefeller wasted no time weighing in on the news. "This proposal is a real step in the right direction for the safety of our coal miners," Rockefeller said. U.S. Rep. George Miller, ranking member on the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, called the proposal, "a significant step in the right direction to hold chronic violators accountable for repeatedly putting miners' lives at risk."

WHD Investigation Results in More Than $85,000 for Workers

The Mandarin House restaurant in Knoxville, Tenn., has agreed to pay $85,290 in back wages to nine employees, plus a $1,540 fine after a Wage and Hour Division investigation found the business was illegally depriving workers of minimum wage and overtime pay. "The Labor Department has made a concerted effort to protect vulnerable low-wage workers who may not know their legal rights under federal labor laws," said Oliver Peebles III, the Wage and Hour Division's regional administrator in Atlanta, Ga. "Businesses have an obligation to pay their workers fairly, and it is our job to see that companies meet their obligation for paying employees their hard-earned wages."

DOL Settles Gender Discrimination Case

Federal contractor Green Bay Dressed Beef LLC will pay $1.65 million in back wages, interest and benefits to 970 women who were subjected to systemic discrimination by the company. The settlement follows an investigation by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, which found that the women were rejected for general laborer positions at the company's Green Bay plant in 2006 and 2007. In addition to financial compensation, the beef supplier will extend a total of 248 offers of employment to affected women as positions become available. "This is the 21st century in the United States of America. There is no such thing as a 'man's job,'" said Secretary Solis. "I am pleased that my department has been able to work out a resolution with Green Bay Dressed Beef, and that the settlement not only compensates the victims of discrimination but also provides jobs for many of these women."

Maine Psychiatric Hospital Cited for Inadequate Workplace Safeguards

The Acadia Hospital in Bangor, Maine, has been cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for failing to provide its employees with adequate safeguards against workplace violence. OSHA's inspection, begun in July 2010 in response to worker complaints, identified at least 115 instances between 2008 and 2010 in which employees of the psychiatric hospital and clinic were assaulted on the job by violent patients. As a result, OSHA has cited the hospital for an alleged serious violation of the agency's general duty clause for failing to provide a workplace free from recognized hazards likely to cause death or serious injury.

Repeat Violations Earn Company Increased OSHA Oversight

Repeatedly cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for not providing adequate fall protection has earned an Illinois roofing company placement in the agency's Severe Violators Enforcement Program. McEntire's Roofing of Lincoln will now be subject to increased scrutiny after being issued willful, serious, and repeat citations and a $102,000 penalty earlier this week. Enacted last year, SVEP concentrates agency resources on ensuring employers who have shown indifference to their responsibilities under the law are brought into compliance.

Construction Contractors in La., SC Settle Whistleblower Case

A settlement agreement has been reached with Baton Rouge, La.-based MMR Contractors and Greenville, S.C.-based Flour Corp. to resolve findings by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration that the companies illegally terminated an employee in Franklin, Texas, for complaints about safety and health issues. Numerous complaints were made by the employee to the contractors about an unsafe crane lift that exposed workers to possible death or serious injuries from being crushed or struck by the overhead crane load. MMR and Flour will pay back wages; purge any reference to the termination from the personnel file, provide neutral employment references and agree not to unlawfully retaliate against the employee. OSHA enforces the whistleblower provisions of the OSH Act and 20 additional statues protecting employees who report violations of various securities laws, trucking, airline, nuclear, pipeline, environmental, rail, workplace safety and health regulations and consumer product and food safety laws.


Around DOL

Latino Worker Safety Outreach

Jose Benavides takes an interview with Univision reporter Beatriz Ferrari. View slideshow for more pictures and caption information.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently hosted a free regional Latino workforce outreach and education conference in Oakland, Calif. The one-day event, attended by representatives from community organizations, organized labor, the faith-based community, educators, consulates, employer associations and others featured informational booths and several health and safety workshops. Program organizers provided training and information on OSHA regulations, and about safety and health programs, labor protections, whistleblower rights, outreach resources and training opportunities. This conference was a prelude to a Latino Worker Training and Education Fair scheduled to take place in Los Angeles in July 2011.


Spotlight on States: Texas

Texans to Receive Reemployment Assistance

The department has provided 500 workers affected by layoffs from multiple companies in the construction and manufacturing industries in central and southeastern Texas with reemployment assistance from a $1,179,312 increment to the state. "The Labor Department remains committed to helping these Texans prepare for new jobs that will lead to long-term careers," said Secretary Solis. "As our economic recovery takes hold, it is important to continue support for individuals who have lost jobs through no fault of their own." This second and final increment will continue the delivery of re-employment assistance to the same workers served by the original grant.

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