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June 28, 2012
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DOL and the Nation's Bicentennial

United States Department of Labor: 1913-2013 - 100 Years. Then, Now, Next.

With Independence Day approaching, we thought it would be fun to dig into the Labor Department archives and find out how the department celebrated the nation's bicentennial in 1976. Turns out, the department played a major role. U.S. Secretary of Labor W. J. "Bill" Usery Jr. was only on the job for five months when the historic date rolled around, but his cultural contributions were significant. The department published "The American Worker" — an illustrated history of work in America. Leading labor historians wrote comprehensive essays for the book, about issues ranging from "The Emergence of American Labor" to "Unions and Rights in the Space Age."

The department's 'The American Worker' coincided with the American Bicentennial.

The book also included labor art, literature, poetry and music. Usery also commissioned a musical presentation, working with famed producer Morton Gould. The show, "Something to Do: A Salute to the American Worker in Words and Music" was performed on Labor Day, 1976, at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. It starred famed entertainer Pearl Bailey.


Solis and POTUS at NALEO

President Obama chats with Secretary Solis as he takes the podium at the event. Click on the image for a larger photo.

At the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Conference in Orlando, Fla., June 22, Secretary Solis and President Obama delivered remarks. The secretary discussed the important contributions that immigrant workers make to the American economy. She updated conference attendees on ongoing efforts to make sure that "all of our children have an education that prepares them for rewarding careers and that we expand opportunities for all those seeking a higher education." Solis also reiterated a number of administration successes over the past three years: efforts to create one million jobs for Latinos, to secure health coverage for as many as nine million uninsured Latinos, and to protect consumers from predatory tactics that have caused many families to lose their homes. "Right now, there's still much that needs to be done, but we're fighting our way back," she said.

View the Slideshow


Job Clubs Symposium

Secretary Solis poses with a group of local community and faith leaders at the symposium. View the slideshow for more images and detailed captions.

"The essence of Job Clubs is neighbors helping neighbors, congregations helping their members, and communities coming together to solve unemployment — a problem for all of us that requires the involvement of all of us," Secretary Solis said at the Job Clubs & Career Ministries Symposium held June 22 in Orlando. The event was hosted by the department's Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships and held at Iglesia El Calvario de Orlando. Solis addressed the audience of more than 150 community leaders from across central and northern Florida about the important work they are doing and how the department supports their efforts.

View the Slideshow


Focus on Retirement Savings

U.S. Secretary of Labor Regional Representative Ken Bennett, EBSA - CRO Benefits Advisors Lisa Sromek and Cindy Saba, Women's Bureau Program Analyst Deborah Pascal, Monique Brunson, Rhiannon Rossi of the Chicago Foundation for Women, Jacquelyn Young from Young Consulting, Kai Love-Davis from Office of Sen. Durbin, Jayne Vellinga of Chicago Women in Trades, Rebecca Wheeler of the Asian American Institute, Danae Kovac of the Women's Business Development Center, Wendy Pollack from the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law and Sandra DelToro of Mujeres Latinas en Accion. Click on the image for a larger photo.

When it comes to having sufficient retirement savings, women are less prepared than men when they leave the workforce, studies show. On a recent visit to Chicago, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employee Benefits Security Phyllis C. Borzi spoke to local women businesses leaders about women and retirement, and steps the department has taken to increase savings for individuals in 401(k)-type retirement plans. She explained that two new rules that go into effect this summer will increase the transparency of fees paid by workers and employers in such retirement plans and will provide additional information that could allow plans to shop around for cost savings.

Read More About Fee Disclosure
Read More on Women and Retirement Savings
Read More on 401(k) Plan Fees


Manufacturing Summit

ODEP's Kathy Martinez visits the DOL/ODEP booth at the SHRM conference exposition. View the slideshow for more images and detailed captions.

The nation's manufacturing industry is struggling to find and retain talent, and two assistant secretaries of labor highlighted effective practices and tactics for surmounting hiring and training challenges at a summit on June 24 in Atlanta. Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employment and Training Jane Oates and Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disabilities Employment Policy Kathy Martinez participated in a panel discussion, "Keeping America Competitive: Addressing the Skills Gap in Manufacturing," prior to the start of the Society for Human Resource Management's annual conference. Carl Fillichio, the department's senior advisor for communications and public affairs, moderated the session. In her opening remarks, Martinez said, "All of us have a role to play. Employers can help by committing to policies and practices which make their workplaces welcoming and inclusive for all qualified individuals, and people with disabilities can actively seek out the training and education they need to qualify for skilled jobs which are waiting to be filled." Fillichio also moderated "Effective Practices and Community Solutions," where panel members from Union Packaging, Northrup Grumman Corp., and Toyota Motor Engineering and Manufacturing shared their best practices for hiring veterans, people with disabilities and the formerly incarcerated.

View the Slideshow


Gender Pay Gap

Chief Economist Adriana Kugler delivers the keynote address at the National Council of Research on Women's 30th Anniversary Annual Conference. Click on the image for a larger photo.

By the time a woman reaches the age of retirement, she will have lost, on average, almost $400,000 in salary because of the gender pay gap, Chief Economist Adriana Kugler said in her address on June 21 at the 30th Anniversary Annual Conference of the National Council of Research on Women. She highlighted several department efforts to reduce the pay gap, including Wage and Hour Division and Office of Federal Contract and Compliance initiatives and unemployment insurance modernization that eases qualifying requirements for those who quit their jobs because of domestic violence or to care for family members. About 250 people attended the conference. Kugler also participated in a panel discussion on the economic case for immigration reform at the Community Leader Briefing on Reform at the White House.


Veterans Chicago Event

The Chicago OFCCP staff who hosted the workshop pose for a group shot. Click on the photo for a larger image and detailed caption.

The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs Chicago District Office held a community event, "Warriors to the Workforce: Fulfilling a Commitment to Our Veterans," on June 22. The program was aimed at federal contractors, community-based organization and other federal and state agencies that provide recruitment, referral, and employment services to veterans. A roundtable panel moderated by Gregory Smith, OFCCP Chicago assistant district director, included representatives from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce; National Able Network, a community organization that helps veterans transition from the military; the Veterans Outreach Program of Illinois, and the Illinois Department of Employment Security.


Summer of Safety

Workers participating at the New Labor Summer of Safety Summit receive occupational health and safety training about their rights under OSHA. View the slideshow for more images and detailed captions.

At a Summer of Safety Summit held June 23, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration kicked off a day of bilingual training sessions on worker rights and responsibilities. The summit, sponsored by New Labor in New Brunswick, N.J., was attended by approximately 75 Spanish-speaking workers who are employed by temporary hiring agencies and who work in warehouses. OSHA Avenel Area Director John Lambert, Compliance Safety and Health Officer Jorge Alzate, and Regional Labor Liaison Laura Kenny provided information on heat stress prevention, fall protection and how to file an OSHA complaint. Founded in 2000, New Labor is a worker organization that advocates for quality work conditions and serves as a voice for immigrant workers in New Jersey.


Accessible Technology

ODEP's Kathy Martinez joined (left to right) Christian Vogler, Tom Temin, and Brian Hurley on the panel. Click on the image for a larger photo.

Accessible technology and its impact on the employment of people with disabilities was the topic of a webcast June 21 hosted by the department's Office of Disability Employment Policy. Kathy Martinez, assistant secretary of labor for disability employment policy; Brian Hurley, public affairs director at the National Industries for the Blind, and Christian Vogler, associate professor and director of the Technology Access Program at Gallaudet University, discussed their personal experiences with accessible technology and how it has helped shape their careers. The panel also offered views on emerging policies and trends they think will impact people with disabilities in coming years. Tom Temin of Federal News Radio served as moderator.

View the Webcast


Phone Bank Heats Up

Osvaldo Corral, the reporter with Univision-Houston discusses the Phone Bank and OSHA's Heat Illness Campaign. View the slideshow for more images and detailed captions.

What do you do when hot and feeling overheated? How much time can be taken for breaks or rest periods? How can you stay hydrated? These questions and others were answered by six Spanish-speaking volunteers provided by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for Univision's Phone Bank Program last week in Houston promoting the annual Heat Illness Campaign. Educational materials in English and Spanish and a curriculum for employers and employees also were made available by the Houston OSHA offices.

View the Slideshow


Partnership for Immigrant Workers

VIPS and staffers alike pose for a group photo during the event. View the slideshow for more images and detailed captions.

Partners in an alliance created to help immigrant workers celebrated the 8th anniversary of the EMPLEO (Employment Education and Outreach) program on June 27 at the Los Angeles Mexican Consulate. EMPLEO was created to inform and educate workers and employers from the Spanish-speaking communities in Southern California about their workplace rights. A toll-free line, staffed by volunteers trained by the alliance partners, operates from a call center based at Catholic Charities in San Bernardino, Calif. Partners include the department's Wage and Hour Division and Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the California Department of Labor Standards Enforcement, the Mexican Consulate, and Central American consulates. Since its inception in 2004, EMPLEO has assisted nearly 7,000 workers with pay issues, discrimination, workplace hazards and other concerns, and identified nearly $8 million in unpaid overtime and minimum wages.

View the Slideshow
Read the Blog Entry


VETS at Florida College

Veterans attending Florida International University in Miami heard from Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for the Veterans' Employment and Training Service Ismael Ortiz on the resources available to maximize their employment opportunities. Ortiz outlined some of the department's initiatives, including My Next Move for Veterans, a website that matches military skills to available civilian jobs; the Veterans Job Bank, a website directory that helps veterans find job postings from companies looking to hire them and the Veterans Gold Card Initiative, which provides veterans with career counseling at 2,800 One-Stop Career Centers across the country. Ortiz also discussed how the department has helped redesign the curriculum for the Transition Assistance Program to "better communicate a veteran's value to a company's hiring manager and propel them into new careers."

Learn More About My Next Move
Learn More About the Veterans Job Bank
Learn More About the Veterans Gold Card


VETS at LULAC

The department has three pillars that support veterans — Prepare, Provide, and Protect. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for the Veterans' Employment and Training Service Ismael Ortiz discussed those pillars at the 83rd League of United Latin American Citizens Annual National Convention in Orlando, Fla., on June 27. Ortiz outlined how VETS' programs "prepare" veterans to find meaningful employment, "provide" them with the tools to seek employment, and "protect" their employment rights. As troops come home, their ability to have meaningful employment is part of the continuum to help them achieve their dreams and also to make America grow, he said.


Championing Careers

At the 48th SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference in Kansas City, Mo., this week Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employment and Training Jane Oates saw firsthand how career and technical education, in partnership with industry, is forging the future of our economy and helping students to be career and college ready. The showcase event at this year's conference was the SkillsUSA Championship, where students demonstrated the technical, academic and employability skills required by America's high performance workplaces.


Martinez, Coast to Coast

Starting her week addressing the board and chapter leaders of the United Spinal Association at their "Roll on Capitol Hill" Policy Advocacy conference June 25, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy Kathy Martinez stressed that tackling the challenges of disability employment will require a full-scale movement that marshals the resources of all government agencies, including the Department of Labor, but also requires engaging the participation of employers, state public agencies, employment experts, individual workers, families, and advocates. Martinez then traveled to California, where at the launch of the Silicon Valley Business Leadership Network she discussed the value of hiring people with disabilities. "Employees with disabilities have proven they have a positive impact on businesses' bottom line," she said. "They add to the range of viewpoints businesses need to succeed, offering fresh ideas on how to solve problems, confront business challenges and achieve success."


Upcoming Deadlines & Events

Open Funding Opportunities

Calendar Highlight

OFCCP and Napa Valley College are holding a job fair for veterans and workshops for employers from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on July 11 in Napa, Calif. Employer workshops will provide help in recruiting and retaining veterans.

OFCCP — OFCCP and Napa Valley College Veterans Conference

July 11 — Napa, CA

EBSA — COBRA Compliance Workshop

June 29 — Dallas, TX


EBSA — Health Benefits Laws Compliance Assistance Seminar

July 25-26 — Billings, MT


EBSA — HIPAA and Affordable Care Act Compliance Workshop

June 29 — Dallas, TX


OFCCP — The ABC's of the AAP

July 19 — Los Angeles, CA


OFCCP — Analyzing Personnel Activity Data

July 26 — Omaha, NE


OFCCP — Beyond the Affirmative Action Program: The Spirit of the Law

August 1 — Chicago, IL


OFCCP — Building Community and Veteran Partnerships

July 11 — Tallahassee, FL


OFCCP — Building Partnerships for the Community

July 12 — Charlotte, NC


OFCCP — Compliance Assistance Seminar

July 3 — Boston, MA

July 18 — Boston, MA


OFCCP — Compliance Assistance for First Time Supply and Service Contractors

July 17 — Atlanta, GA


OFCCP — Compliance Assistance Seminar for Construction Contractors

July 12 — Omaha, NE


OFCCP — Developing Written Affirmative Action Plans

July 25 — Columbus, OH


OFCCP — Implementing an Effective Affirmative Action Program: Obtaining Meaningful Results

July 16 — Chicago, IL


OFCCP — Maintaining Applicant Flow Data

July 19 — Omaha, NE


OFCCP — Supply and Service AAP Seminar for Small and New Contractors

July 18 — Mountainside, NJ


OFCCP — Technical Assistance Seminar

June 29 — Columbus, OH


OFCCP — Women in Non-Traditional Occupations

August 2 — Omaha, NE


OLMS — Compliance Seminar

July 12 — Lake Buena Vista, FL

July 19 — Nashville, TN

July 26 — Charlotte, NC


OSHA — Maritime Advisory Committee for Occupational Safety and Health Meeting

July 24-25 — Seattle, WA


WHD — Prevailing Wage Conference

July 10-12 — Philadelphia, PA

July 24-26 — Los Angeles, CA

July 31-Aug 2 — Miami, FL

August 7-9 — Seattle, WA


WHD — Understanding Special Minimum Wages under Section 14(c) of the FLSA

July 13 — Sacramento, CA

July 19 — Birmingham, AL


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What's New

Working for Working Women

Secretary Solis speaks to representatives from women's advocacy groups, workforce investment counsels and boards, faith-based organizations and others who attended the forum. Click on the image for a larger photo.

America succeeds when women succeed, Secretary Solis emphasized at a "Working for Women: Your Job, Your Rights" forum on June 21 in Orlando, Fla. Solis discussed challenges facing working women and actions taken by the department to get unemployed women into workplaces, protect their rights and help them keep what they earn. "We need to make sure that all women have the support they need to thrive — to make it into the middle class and to avoid being thrust into poverty," she said. The audience included representatives from women's advocacy groups, workforce investment counsels and boards, faith-based organizations. Solis was joined by Nancy Leppink, deputy administrator of the Wage and Hour Division, and Latifa Lyles, acting director of the Women's Bureau.

View the Slideshow
Read More on Working for Women
Watch the Video: Women in Their Own Words

Family and Medical Leave Guide Gets Big Web Welcome

WHD's Nancy Leppink and staff answer questions during the Webinar. View the slideshow for more images and detailed captions.

A new Employee Guide to the Family and Medical Leave Act recently developed by the Wage and Hour Division was rolled out June 27 in a webinar hosted by WHD Deputy Administrator Nancy Leppink. The high-demand webinar attracted nearly 8,000 registrants submitting more than 2,000 online comments and questions during the session. A team of FMLA experts from the department responded live to comments and questions from a web chat room setup for the event. Leppink kicked things off, followed by Dr. Avis Jones-DeWeever, executive director of the National Council of Negro Women; Charles M. Fox, executive director, Disability Management Employer Coalition; and Naz Meftah, a new mom of triplets who spoke movingly about how recent updates to the FMLA directly helped her new family. The new guide, available online and in print, includes easy-to-follow and informative charts that map out the FMLA leave process and a summary of how coverage and eligibility are determined.

View the Slideshow
Listen to the Archived Webinar
Download the FMLA Guide
Learn more about FMLA


Preventing Heat Stroke — There's an App for That!

OSHA's Heat App. Click on the photo to download the app.

Temperatures in St. Louis, Atlanta, Baltimore, Nashville and many other areas are expected to soar to 100 degrees in the coming days. And that means anyone working outdoors should be on guard for signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. To prevent heat-related illnesses, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has developed a mobile app, the Heat Safety Tool. This mobile application provides critical information that allows workers and employers to view the risk level for outdoor work based on the heat index in their area. The app, available for iPhone and Android platforms, educates users on the signs and symptoms of heat illness, and has first aid information available if heat illness strikes. Summer is officially here, so download the app — in English or Spanish — and have life-saving information available at your fingertips!

Download the App
Learn More About the Heat Campaign
Find Your Local Weather Forecast


News You Can Use

Real Workers, Reel OFCCP Stories

Hear the facts. Click on the image to watch the video.

Statistics can tell the story of workplace bias and discrimination, but nothing speaks louder than first-hand accounts of workers helped by the department's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs. This week, the agency premiered a new short film that features three such stories — an important reminder that federal contractors are required to provide equal employment opportunities for all workers, and that OFCCP is there for them when issues of discrimination arise.

View the Video
Read the Blog Entry


Spotlight on Grants

(left to right) Commissioner Harold Wirths; Newark Mayor Cory A. Booker; Deputy Secretary Seth Harris; Donald H. Sebastian, PhD, NJIT senior vice president; Nelida Valentin, executive director, NWIB pose at the Workforce Innovation Grant announcement event held at NJIT. View the slideshow for more images and detailed captions.

Deputy Secretary of Labor Seth Harris traveled to Newark, N.J., last week to highlight recent grants awarded to the New Jersey Institute of Technology and the Newark Workforce Investment Board. Both grants provide funding for local institutions to develop innovative strategies to train workers for a 21st century economy. Harris was joined by Newark Mayor Cory A. Booker and New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development Commissioner Harold Wirths for the visit to NJIT. In May, NJIT was awarded a $5 million Labor Department H-1B Technical Skills Training Grant, and in June the Newark Workforce Investment Board received approximately $3 million through the department's Workforce Innovation Fund grant program.

View the Slideshow
Learn More About the Workforce Innovation Fund
Learn More About the H-1B Technical Skills Training grants


National News

Grants for Women in Non-Traditional Occupations

Secretary Solis has announced $1.8 million in grants to six states through the Women in Apprenticeship and Nontraditional Occupations program. The program improves the recruitment, hiring, training, employment and retention of women in apprenticeships in industries such as advanced manufacturing, transportation and construction. The six grantees are community-based organizations, each of which has formed a consortium with a local Workforce Investment Area and at least one Registered Apprenticeship program sponsor. This consortium-based approach is intended to ensure that the women have access to a range of services, as well as to nontraditional employment opportunities.

Read the News Release


Grant to Test Child and Forced Labor Reduction Guidelines

The department's Bureau of International Labor Affairs on June 28 announced a $5 million competitive solicitation for a cooperative agreement to pilot U.S. Department of Agriculture's guidelines to reduce child labor and forced labor in imported agricultural products. The USDA's 2011 "Guidelines for Eliminating Child and Forced Labor in Agricultural Supply Chains" lay out the key elements of effective company programs to reduce the likelihood that child or forced labor are used in agricultural products or commodities imported into the U.S. Prospective applicants must apply as part of a partnership that includes a nongovernmental organization and a company active in agricultural supply chains and must demonstrate expertise in areas such as international children's issues, labor issues and company supply chain compliance programs.

Read the News Release


$12 Million in Job Grants to Aid Formerly Incarcerated Women

The department awarded grants totaling $12,096,172 on June 28 to nine nonprofit organizations across the country to provide critical employment and support services for previously incarcerated female adults and youth as they make the transition back to their communities. Seven grantees have been selected to serve adults and two grants will serve youth. "This is a great opportunity for these women and girls to turn their lives around," said Secretary Solis. "These federal grants will help them obtain the job training and support services they need to positively contribute to their communities and their families."

Read the News Release


Campaign Aims to Prevent Coal Mine Roof and Rib Failures

Each year, hundreds of miners are injured in accidents involving the failure of walls and roofs in underground coal mines. And each year, the Mine Safety and Health Administration kicks off its Preventive Roof Rib Outreach Program to educate miners and mine operators on how to avoid these hazardous conditions. Roof control in underground mines involves securing the top as well as the sides of travel ways, or walls, which are referred to as "ribs" in underground coal mines. The number of injuries resulting from roof and rib failures increased from 439 in 2010 to 484 in 2011. Because improper examinations of roof and rib conditions can lead to roof and rib failure accidents, MSHA inspectors will distribute specific information to underground mine operators and miners about the dangers involved, as well as methods to check and address those conditions.

Read the News Release
Learn More About the Outreach Program


International Scene

DOL Welcomes Dignitaries From Vietnam, Colombia and U.K.

Secretary Solis greets Madam Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan during a discussion this week. Click on the photo for a larger image and detailed caption.

Senior officials from Vietnam, Colombia and the United Kingdom met this week with Secretary Solis. On June 25, the secretary greeted Madam Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan, vice president of Vietnam's National Assembly, and other senior officials, including the labor minister, Madam Pham Thi Hai Chuyen. They discussed the importance of addressing employment challenges, Vietnam's recent labor law reform, protection for women, migrant and overseas workers, and cooperation on labor policy and technical assistance activities under the long-standing U.S.-Vietnam Labor Dialogue. On June 27, Solis met with Colombian Minister of Labor Rafael Pardo and other members of the Colombian government to discuss Colombia's recent achievements in protecting workers' rights and the challenges that remain. Iain Duncan Smith, the United Kingdom's secretary of state for work and pensions, met with Solis to discuss new and innovative employment policies and programs that the two countries have developed and implemented.

View the Slideshow


It Happened on the Hill

Worker Safety: Both Enforcement and Cooperation Needed

Worker safety was the focus of a House subcommittee hearing July 28 on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's Voluntary Protection Program. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor Jordan Barab testified before the Committee on Education and the Workforce's Subcommittee on Workplace Protections, reiterating the importance of VPP as one piece of the agency's strategy to protect workers. He also noted that the integrity of VPP is OSHA's first concern and cited progress in addressing problems raised by the Government Accountability Office. Rep. Lynn Woolsey, ranking member on the subcommittee, focused on the importance of fully funding whistleblower protections and stressed a strategic balance between enforcement and compliance assistance. Featured on the panel of witnesses was Dr. David Levine from the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, who co-authored a recent study that found randomized safety and health inspections not only improved injury rates for workers but also saved employers money in workers' compensation costs.

Read the Testimony


Around DOL

Observing LGBT Pride Month

Secretary Solis chats with  DOL employees Josh Lamont (left) and Ed Campbell. Click on the slideshow for more images and detailed captions.

Secretary Solis hosted a gathering June 27 for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender employees and friends to observe LGBT Pride Month. Special guest Gautam Raghavan, White House associate director of Public Engagement, joined the secretary and her Chief of Staff Ana Ma to talk about recent administration milestones — including several led by the department — that fit what President Obama calls in his 2012 Presidential Proclamation on LGBT Pride Month a "proud and inexorable march toward freedom, fairness, and full equality under the law — not just for some, but for all."

View the Slideshow
Read the Proclamation


DOL Working for You

New Yorker Finds Bliss as Small Business Owner

Danielle Bliss. Click on photo for a larger image.

Danielle Bliss was able to start a full service graphic design and letterpress company through the department-funded Self Employment Assistance Program in New York State. After getting laid off from a graphic arts design job for a large media company, Bliss sought to turn her passion for designing wedding invitations using an antique form of cotton paper printing on metal plates into an entrepreneurial venture. She enrolled in business courses offered by the state's Small Business Development Center and learned business management, bookkeeping, client interaction and marketing skills. Her new company, Wishbone Letterpress, is a success and she has printing orders from as far away as California and New Zealand. She said the training she received "gave me peace of mind that I could start my own business."

California Woman, Once a Movie Extra, Now in a Leading Role

Tarita Ventura. Click on the image for a larger photo and caption.

Tarita Ventura has worked at a variety of jobs, from nurse's aide to singer to appearing as an extra in a Clint Eastwood movie. But she found her life's work thanks to a Pathways Out of Poverty program funded by the department. Ventura enrolled in classes at Women in Nontraditional Employment Roles, a California nonprofit that trains and places low-income women and youth in male-dominated construction and building trades apprenticeships. Ventura said she was drawn to construction as a career because as a child she often accompanied her father to his general contractor jobs sites and was given small jobs like cleaning up debris. After graduating with certifications to work in construction, Ventura joined Sheet Metal Worker's Union Local 105, and now makes three times more than any previous job, with benefits. Ventura said the nonprofit program "changed my life. It opened a door for me I could not find, even though I had been looking for it for years."


DOL in Action

Baldor Electric: $2 Million Discrimination Fine

The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs has settled allegations of systemic discrimination stemming from Baldor Electric's applicant screening process at its Fort Smith, Ark., facility. The process violated Executive Order 11246 by creating a disparate impact on women and minorities, resulting in 795 qualified women, African-Americans and job seekers of Asian and Hispanic descent being denied the opportunity to advance to the interview stage when applying for production and laborer positions. "I am pleased with this settlement, which reflects a mutual commitment between the Department of Labor and the leadership of Baldor to ensure that all workers have a fair and equal shot at competing for good jobs," said Secretary Solis. Under the terms of the conciliation agreement, Baldor will pay a total of $2 million in back wages and interest to the affected individuals and will make at least 50 job offers to members of the original class as positions become available.

Read the News Release


Former Administrator for Union Benefit Plans Sentenced

Melissa King, who pled guilty last fall to embezzling millions of dollars from the employee benefit plans she administered on behalf of the AFL-CIO Local 147 in New York, known as the "Sandhogs Union," has been sentenced to six years in federal prison. An investigation disclosed that between 2002 and 2008, King caused at least $42 million to be transferred from Local 147 funds into an account controlled by her company. An investigation, which included the department's Employee Benefits Security Administration and Office of Inspector General, revealed that she later transferred tens of millions of dollars out of that account to use for personal purposes such as paying for luxury cars, thoroughbred horses, travel on private jets, a home mortgage, jewelry and at least $7 million in credit card expenses. The case was prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Manhattan. "The benefit plans from which Melissa King stole provide various employee benefits for workers and their beneficiaries," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for EBSA, Phyllis C. Borzi. "I am proud of my agency's role in uncovering those abuses and working to preserve and protect the benefits workers have earned." Local 147 had approximately 1,000 members as of 2008.

Oil and Gas Safety Stand-down in Oklahoma

A safety stand-down sponsored by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and other members of the Mid-Continent Exploration & Production Safety Network will be held June 22-July 20 to promote best practices at oil and gas exploration and production sites throughout Oklahoma. MCEPS is a cooperative alliance made up of OSHA's Oklahoma City Area Office and oil and gas industry representatives. Alliance members will encourage employers to voluntarily stop work at job sites for inspections and safety and health training for employees on the leading causes of work-related incidents and deaths in the industry.

Read the News Release

Suit Filed to Recover $112,000 to 401(k) Plan

LifeCare of Alabama Inc. and CEO Susan Clingman-Banks are being sued by the department to restore more than $112,000 in assets to the company's 401(k) plan that allegedly were mishandled by the defendants in violation of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act. An investigation found the Hartselle, Ala., ambulance service company did not segregate $112,354 in employee contributions from company assets and never forwarded the funds to the plan from October 2008 to March 2010. Additionally, between September 2005 and September 2008, the defendants withheld $105,586 in employee contributions to the plan, but failed to segregate the contributions from company assets and forward them to the plan in a timely manner.

Read the News Release

OLMS to Supervise Union Election in California

Communications Workers of America Local 9421 in Sacramento, Calif., has agreed to hold a new election for president, executive vice-president, secretary treasurer, first vice-president, second vice-president, third vice-president and 10 executive board positions under the supervision of the Office of Labor-Management Standards. The agreement follows an OLMS investigation that found that eligible members' votes were not counted and a large number of members were not mailed election notices or ballots during the union's December 2011 election.

Alliance with Cleveland Safety Forum Underway

Information, guidance and training resources to protect the health and safety of construction workers are key elements in an alliance between the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Cleveland Safety Forum. Established in 2011, the Cleveland Safety Forum includes union contractors and union training coordinators who monitor the safety and health needs of their members, identify best practices in the construction industry and promote the availability of training opportunities. The voluntary alliance will address occupational topics including crane regulations, silica exposure hazards and education and training on the recognition and control of other hazards specific to the construction industry.

Read the News Release

Contractors Fined $460,000 for Exposing Workers to Falls

Altura Concrete Inc. and Nathil Corp., both of Hasbrouck Heights, N.J., and White Diamonds Properties LLC and Blade Contracting Inc., both of Jersey City, N.J., have been fined $463,350 by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for exposing workers to fall hazards. The citations follow a December 2011 inspection during which inspectors observed employees working without personal fall protection or fall protection systems.

Read the News Release

Kentucky Coal Operator Ordered to Reinstate Miner

Coal miner Charles Howard will return to his job, thanks to a recent ruling by an administrative law judge with the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission. The judge ordered Cumberland River Coal Co. to reinstate Howard to his former job and pay a civil penalty of $30,000, an increase from the $20,000 penalty originally proposed by the Mine Safety and Health Administration. Howard, who worked at Band Mill No. 2 Mine in Letcher County, Ky., suffered head injuries on the job in June 2010 and was discharged almost immediately upon his return the following May. Howard filed a complaint of discrimination with MSHA. The agency began an investigation, and upon finding merit to the complaint, filed the case with the review commission. "This decision represents a victory not only for Mr. Howard but for all miners who speak out about hazardous conditions, Assistant Secretary of Labor Joseph Main, the head of MSHA, said.

Read the News Release
Read about Miners' Rights in the Workplace

Summer Construction Safety Initiative

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has launched a no-notice "Construction Incident Prevention Initiative" campaign this summer to curb construction fatalities throughout the Philadelphia Region, which includes Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia. There were 43 fatalities in fiscal years 2011 and 2012 in the region, with 18 attributed to falls. The initiative will be conducted from June through September.

Read the News Release

Cleanup Efforts Continue in American Samoa

The department awarded a $500,000 National Emergency Grant supplement for clean up efforts in American Samoa. The grant will continue workforce development services to temporary job participants that assisted with recovery efforts in the wake of the tsunami that struck American Samoa in September 2009. This funding was awarded to the American Samoa Department of Human Resources and brings the total funding for this project to $25,357,608.

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MSHA's Main: No Tolerance for Egregious Noncompliance

Inspectors from the Mine Safety and Health Administration issued 187 violations to nine coal mines during last month's impact inspections. In a separate two-day blitz, they targeted 40 underground coal mines formerly owned by Massey Energy, where they issued 225 violations. K and D Mining Inc.'s Mine No. 17 in Harlan County, Ky., was issued 43 violations for a number of hazardous conditions, including accumulations of combustible materials on conveyer belts. The mine was shut down for nine days after the inspection until the operator corrected all of the hazardous conditions. "Mine operators know full well the consequences that occur when these kinds of conditions exist, and we cannot and will not tolerate this type of noncompliance that endangers miners' lives and leads to potentially disastrous results," said Assistant Secretary of Labor Joseph Main, the head of MSHA.

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Pennsylvania Iron Foundry Cited for Hazards

Domestic Casting Co. LLC was cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for three repeat and one serious safety violations at the company's Shippensburg, Pa., facility. OSHA proposed $49,000 in penalties after conducting a follow-up inspection. Violations include unguarded machinery and walkways, and live electrical parts.

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Assistance for Puerto Rico Workers Affected by Plant Closures

Three National Emergency Grants totaling more than $4 million have been awarded by the department to assist workers affected by plant closures in Puerto Rico. The grants, awarded to the Puerto Rico Department of Labor and Human Resources, will provide employment and training services to 412 workers affected by the closure of three Bluewater Defense, Inc., facilities and the closure of Legacy Pharmaceuticals International in the eastern part of Puerto Rico; to about 200 workers affected by the Checkpoint Caribbean, Ltd., closure and subsequent layoffs in Ponce; and to assist about 160 workers hit by the closure of Bumble Bee Foods, LLC, in Mayaguez.

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Safety Inspection Faults Atlanta Manufacturer

Spruill Products Inc. has been cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for 26 safety and health violations following a January inspection at the company's Atlanta manufacturing facility. Five repeat and 16 serious violations involve failing to ensure employees wear eye and face protection, a lack of machine guarding and improperly storing acetylene and oxygen cylinders. Proposed penalties total $86,200.

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Assistance for Laid Off Massachusetts Workers

The department announced a $2,697,185 grant on June 27 to assist about 345 workers affected by layoffs at AdLife Healthcare, LLC, Fidelity Investments, Fidelity National Information Services, Inc., IAP Worldwide Services, Inc., National Grid USA Service Company, Inc., Quantech Services Inc. and Sun Life Financial at various locations throughout Massachusetts. Awarded to the Massachusetts Department of Workforce Development, the grant will provide employment-related assistance, including intensive job search and support services.

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Maine Military Authority Workers Receive Grant Assistance

A $100,485 supplemental National Emergency Grant has been awarded by the department to continue providing re-employment services to about 75 workers affected by layoffs at the Maine Military Authority in Limestone, Maine. "This additional funding will enable these workers to continue to receive services that equip them with the necessary skills to re-enter the workforce," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employment and Training Jane Oates. "Access to this kind of assistance is critical in today's challenging labor market."

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