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June 20, 2013
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Building a Peacetime Economy

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

It had been more than a decade with a single individual in the top office at the Labor Department (Frances Perkins) when Lewis B. Schwellenbach became the fifth Secretary of Labor under President Harry S. Truman on July 1, 1945. The transition came at a tumultuous time. President Franklin D. Roosevelt had died in office some three months earlier, less than a month before the Allied victory in Europe, followed soon after by the resignation of the stalwart Perkins. Victory in the Pacific would not be achieved until September, but the major priority of Schwelllenbach's term was already clear: ensuring the maximum employment of the fighting men returning home from World War II and the promotion of a vigorous peacetime economy. A former U.S. senator and federal judge from Washington state, Secretary Schwellenbach oversaw the abolishment of wartime wage-and-price controls

Secretary of Labor Lewis Schwellenbach, evidently arriving at the White House for a Cabinet meeting.  Photo Credit: Abbie Rowe, National Archives, Harry S. Truman.  Click for a larger photo.

and a rash of strikes that prompted Congress to overrule a presidential veto and pass the Taft-Hartley Act. Schwellenbach also heightened the department's international presence with the establishment of the Office of International Labor Affairs in 1947. He holds the sad distinction of being the only labor secretary to die while in office. After battling a series of illnesses that had forced him to leave Washington, D.C., before being summoned back by Truman, Schwellenbach died at Walter Reed Hospital on June 10, 1948.

Learn About the Department's Postwar History
View the Centennial Timeline
View the Centennial Video

Minimum Wage Myth Buster

Myth: Increasing the minimum wage is bad for businesses.

Not true: Academic research has shown that higher wages sharply reduce employee turnover, which can reduce employment and training costs.

Subscribe to Minimum Wage Updates

Work In Progress: The Best of Our Blog

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

Meet BLS Commissioner Erica Groshen: Erica Groshen became the 14th commissioner of the Bureau of Labor Statistics last January. She immediately got to work maintaining and improving the quality of the agency's data and making that data relevant to users. Here, Groshen writes about the experiences that led to her nomination — she was vice president in the Research and Statistics Group at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York before coming to BLS — and describes her goals for her term as the head of the agency. "I look forward to helping guide BLS as it adapts to a changing economic environment, develops new products that answer questions relevant to our 21st century economy, and delivers the highest quality data and analyses in the most effective way to the public and our diverse users," she writes.

'Knot' Your Average Job Corps Success Story: On the heels of the news that Job Corps is now accepting new student applications at 125 centers across the country, Brian Daher — regional director for the Office of Job Corps in San Francisco — tells one of the program's many success stories. He introduces us to Gus Lopez, a California small business owner and sailor who graduated from a Job Corps program in 1997.

Miss Utah's Question Is Worth Answering: While it may have become a national punch line this week, the question posed to Miss Utah Marissa Powell during the June 16 Miss USA competition deserves serious consideration. Patricia Shiu, director of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, argues that there is, in fact, an urgent need to address the persistent gender pay gap, especially at a time when women play an increasingly crucial economic role in America's families.

Policy Deputy for VETS

Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Veterans' Employment and Training Service Teresa Gerton. Click for a larger photo.

Teresa W. Gerton has been named deputy assistant secretary for policy at the Veterans' Employment and Training Service. Gerton brings 28 years of service as an Army officer and a civilian member of the Senior Executive Service. Most recently, Gerton worked for The Cohen Group, a Washington, D.C., consulting company. Prior to that, Gerton served for eight years as a member of the SES in the Department of Defense. She also was executive deputy to the commanding general of the Army Materiel Command. Gerton's 20 years of military service included a position as executive officer for the Army's 1,200-soldier corps support maintenance battalion at Fort Hood, Texas, and as professor of economics at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y.

Supporting Women Veterans

Assistant Secretary of Labor for Veterans Employment and Training Keith Kelly speaks during the announcement of a jobs initiative with Goodwill Industries International at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., June 20, 2013. Click for a larger photo.

The department has a number of initiatives underway to help female veterans effectively transition to civilian employment, Keith Kelly, the assistant secretary of labor who heads the Veterans' Employment and Training Service, said at the National Press Club on June 20. In his remarks in Washington, D.C., Kelly noted the launch of the Women Veterans Employment Initiative and the posting of a position for VETS' first full-time women veteran's program manager "who will focus solely on women veterans' employment." Goodwill Industries, which sponsored the event, announced an initiative to help 3,000 women veterans find jobs over the next two years.

Alliance for People With HIV/AIDS

Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy Kathy Martinez, participates in the ODEP/NWPC alliance signing with National Working Positive Coalition President Mark Misrok. Click for a larger photo.

An alliance between the Office of Disability Employment Policy and the National Working Positive Coalition will focus on helping people living with HIV/AIDS. The alliance will emphasize reducing stigma and discrimination, cultivating training and employment opportunities, and improving financial well-being. On June 17, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy Kathy Martinez and NWPC President Mark Misrok signed a formal alliance agreement, continuing a collaboration that began two years ago. The organizations joined forces in 2011, during planning for the first-ever HIV/AIDS Employment Roundtable, which ODEP convened. "NWPC is a wonderful partner. I am so pleased that we are formalizing our relationship to expand the great work we have already begun," said Martinez.

View ODEP's HIV/AIDS website

Mine Safety in the Heartland

MSHA Assistant Secretary Joseph Main (center) and (at right) Neal Merrifield, MSHA administrator for Metal and Nonmetal Mining, wrap up a day of mine tours at Martin Marietta Materials' Belmont Sand & Gravel in Marion County, Ind. Click for a larger photo.

Joseph A.Main, the assistant secretary of labor who heads the Mine Safety and Health Administration, met with representatives from seven mining associations at the Midwest Aggregates Meeting on June 18 in Indianapolis. Aggregates producers from Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio and Wisconsin gathered to discuss industry concerns and hear about recent steps MSHA has taken with regard to enforcement, regulations, training and education. "This was an opportunity to sit down and talk about how we're doing and get feedback from our stakeholders," said Main. In a separate meeting, he met with labor leaders from several local organizations, including Indiana AFL-CIO and Central Indiana Building and Construction Trades. The following day proved no less busy. Main toured three Indiana mining operations — an underground limestone mine, a surface limestone mine, and a sand and gravel mine.

Maximizing the 'Data Dollar'

Commissioner of Labor Statistics Erica Groshen with San Francisco BLS Leadership Team (left to Right)  Richard Holden, Sam Pence, Amar Mann, Dennis Reid, and Chris Rosenlund. Click for a larger photo.

During a recent trip to California, Bureau of Labor Statistics Commissioner Erica Groshen addressed approximately 50 economists and business leaders at the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank. Her remarks included an analysis of the latest economic recovery, how BLS is responding to challenges in a tightening budget environment, and how the agency is working to maximize our nation's "data dollar." The visit marked Groshen's first to the San Francisco region as commissioner. She also spent time with regional staff and executives from the department, local business leaders and members of the media. A self-professed data aficionado, Groshen said she was pleased to join the professional staff at BLS and fulfill her three passions — labor economics, data and public service.

Exchanging Ideas to Drive Change

Nearly 30 vocational rehabilitation leaders from 14 states and territories met with Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy Kathy Martinez and her staff on June 18 to learn about ODEP priorities and ongoing initiatives to advance the employment of people with disabilities. Martinez welcomed the members of the National Rehabilitation Leadership Institute, led by San Diego State University research professor Dr. Frederic Schroeder. "You've already demonstrated leadership and the ability to drive change, and driving change to increase the integrated and competitive employment of people with disabilities is what ODEP is all about," Martinez told institute members. The institute promotes leadership and knowledge among its members through creativity, strategic thinking and passion for vocational rehabilitation.

Champions for Equal Pay

Members of the Bay Area Equal Pay Collaborative pose with equal pay advocate Lilly Ledbetter (front). From left to right: Linda Li, EEOC; Ana Victoria Fortes, Region IX Women's Bureau; Carla Collins and Esther Perales-Deickmann, Santa Clara County Office of Women's Policy; and Joan Goddard; Coalition for Equal Pay. Click for a larger photo.

As a member of the Bay Area Equal Pay Collaborative and in recognition of efforts to address the gender wage gap, Region IX's Women's Bureau received a Gender Justice Honoree Award on June 13. The award was presented by the nonprofit law firm Equal Rights Advocates at its 39th annual luncheon in San Francisco, and women's equality activist Lilly Ledbetter delivered the keynote address. The Bay Area Equal Pay Collaborative develops educational and outreach events on equal pay.

Guide to Women's Equal Pay Rights
Employer's Guide to Equal Pay

Support for Autism Inclusion

Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy Kathy Martinez (seated) meets with students from the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network's Summer Leadership Academy to discuss federal disability policy.  Click for a larger photo.

Nearly 25 college students from the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network visited Assistant Secretary of Labor Kathy Martinez on June 12 to learn about her experiences and Office of Disability Employment Policy initiatives. Selected to participate in ASAN's Summer Leadership Academy because of their record in promoting disability rights in their communities, the students spent the past week learning about federal disability policy and inclusion of individuals with disabilities on college campuses. "I am impressed and encouraged to meet so many accomplished and determined young people," Martinez said after listening to the students discuss their academic pursuits. "You are our country's future, and I am confident that you will bring about positive changes in how people with disabilities are viewed and valued in our communities and in our workplaces."

Learn About ASAN Initiatives

Dominican Safety Alliance

Consul General of the Dominican Republic in California and U.S. Western Region Celeste Jiménez Peña; and the Director of OSHA's San Diego Area Office Jay Vicory sign an alliance that will promote worker safety and health. Click for a larger photo.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration signed an alliance with the General Consulate of the Dominican Republic in California and the U.S. Western Region on June 19. Under the agreement, OSHA and the consulate will work jointly to provide information, guidance and access to education and training resources aimed at promoting workers' rights and employers' responsibilities. Jay Vicory, director of OSHA's San Diego Area Office, signed the alliance at consulate offices in Glendale, Calif., along with Celeste Jimenez, consul general of the Dominican Republic.

Read the News Release

Connecting Veterans, Jobs

At the Society for Human Resource Management Conference in Chicago are (left to right) Nancy Hogan, SHRM event coordinator; John Moran, deputy assistant secretary, Veterans' Employment and Training Service, DOL; Sherrill Curtis, Curtis Consulting Group, LLC and LTC Cherrie Davis, deputy director for Army Transition Strategic Outreach Office. Click for a larger photo.

Most of the department's 2,700 American Job Center sites have specialized representatives "who work solely with the veteran population" to provide assistance in finding employment, said Veterans' Employment and Training Service Deputy Assistant Secretary John Moran in Chicago on June 15. Moran told attendees at a Society for Human Resource Management meeting that the centers have specialized Local Veterans Employment Representatives and Disabled Veterans Outreach Program specialists who help veterans with career counseling and connect them to area employers looking to fill job openings. The centers, formerly known as One-Stops, can help businesses with their recruitment of veterans by assisting in matching a veteran's military skill with a comparable civilian job opening, Moran said.

Job Corps Now Enrolling

Job Corps is seeking new applicants ages 16 to 24 for its national career training and education program at 125 campuses across the country. Residential and nonresidential slots are available for the self-paced federal program. The program is an ideal opportunity to gain education, career training, and employability skills for eligible low-income individuals who may be looking for a steppingstone to a community college or for those who need additional support to pursue a community college degree.

Learn More About Job Corps
Visit the Job Corps Facebook Page
Call 800-733-JOBS (5627)

Weekly UI Claims

The department reported the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial Unemployment Insurance claims was 354,000 for the week ending June 15, an increase of 18,000 from the previous week. The four-week moving average was 348,250, up 2,500 from the previous week's revised average.

Read the News Release

Upcoming Deadlines & Events

Open Funding Opportunities

EBSA — Getting It Right: Know Your Fiduciary Responsibilities Seminar

July 11 — Overland Park, KS

EBSA — Health Benefits Laws Compliance Assistance Seminar

June 26 — Portland, OR

OFCCP — Analyzing Personnel Activity Data / Internet Applicant Recordkeeping Rule

June 21 — Columbus, OH

OFCCP — Compliance Assistance Seminar: Supply & Service Contractors

June 26 — Nashville, TN

OFCCP — Construction and Compliance Webinar

June 26 — Detroit, MI
July 17 — Detroit, MI
July 25 — Richmond, VA

OFCCP — Construction Requirements

July 25 — Columbus, OH

OFCCP — Developing Written Affirmative Action Programs

July 11 — Omaha, NE

OFCCP — DOL Educational & Outreach Symposium

June 27 — Houston, TX

OFCCP — DOL Information & Outreach Forum

July 24 — Denver, CO

OFCCP — "Empowerment Session" on Developing AAPs for New and Small Supply and Service Contractors and Outreach Best Practices for a Diverse / Inclusive Workforce

July 18 — Baltimore, MD
July 18 — Baltimore, MD

OFCCP — Internet Applicant Rule Refresher

July 25 — Omaha, NE

OFCCP — Organizational Profile and Job Group Analysis

July 31 — Milwaukee, WI

OFCCP — Preparing Small and New Supply and Service Contractors for an OFCCP Audit

July 7 — Pittsburgh, PA
July 10 — Pittsburgh, PA
July 16 — Philadelphia, PA

OFCCP — Records Retention and Internet Applicant Requirements

July 17 — Milwaukee, WI

OFCCP — What to Expect During an OFCCP Audit / OFCCP Regulatory Update

July 10 — Columbus, OH
July 12 — Detroit, MI
July 24 — Detroit, MI

OFCCP — Workers' Rights

July 17 — New Orleans, LA

WHD — Prevailing Wage Conference

June 26 — Atlantic City, NJ

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

June 28 — Texarkana, TX
July 17 — Kokomo, IN
July 23 — San Diego, CA
July 25 — Chicago, IL

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What's New

With Lives at Risk in Grain Industry, OSHA Launches Safety Initiative

OSHA, the Grain and Feed Association of Illinois and the Illinois Grain Handling Safety Coalition have developed a stop sign decal to adhere to grain bin doors reminding entrants of safety hazards. Click for a larger photo.

It takes just seconds for a worker to become engulfed in flowing grain, unable to escape. More than half of all grain engulfments result in death by suffocation. That's why the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, working with agricultural and grain handling alliances and organizations, has initiated a safety campaign to educate employers and workers on the dangers that result in numerous injuries and deaths each year. "OSHA is working hard to change the 'It won't happen to me' mindset," said Nick Walters, OSHA regional administrator for six Midwestern states. OSHA developed a Local Emphasis Program for Grain Handling Facilities in 2010, following the deaths of more than 26 workers. The emphasis program focuses on the grain and feed industry's six major hazards, including engulfment, falls, auger entanglement, struck by, combustible dust explosions and electrocution.

• News Releases: Illinois, Wisconsin, Ohio, Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri
Read More About Grain Handling Safety
Download the Grain Handling Safety Poster

STEM Connections on Display in Austin

Acting Secretary Seth Harris was joined on a panel at the U.S. News STEM Solutions Conference by Sajan Pillai, CEO, UST Global and Michael Araten, president and CEO, K'NEX. Photo credit: Brett Ziegler For USN&WR.Click for a larger photo.

Innovative approaches to improve science, technology, engineering and mathematics career skills was the hot topic for educators, employers and workforce development pros at the U.S. News STEM Solutions conference in Austin, Texas. The conference, held on June 19, highlighted a number of approaches funded in part by department investments in the community college system. Acting Secretary of Labor Seth D. Harris participated alongside several CEOs in a panel discussion that focused on what major employers look for in a STEM workforce. Harris called attention to the need to work with community colleges and other training providers to cultivate job-worthy skills. During the panel, Harris also discussed the important role immigration reform would play in streamlining the visa system for foreign students in science fields, and he highlighted the importance of these partnerships to create middle-class jobs and grow the economy. Afterward, Harris visited a former shopping mall that was recently purchased by Austin Community College and transformed into a high-tech training facility for workers in the technology and medical fields. The programs are funded in part through a $15 million grant to a consortia of schools focused on biosciences, biomanufacturing and medical device manufacturing careers.

Exchanging Ideas on Women Veterans Employment

White House fellow Ariel Batungbacal, a key member of the Women Veterans Initiative team, welcomes participants to a listening session to address women veterans employment challenges at the Department of Labor in Washington, D.C., June 19, 2013. View the slideshow for more images and captions.

The Women Veterans Employment Initiative, a cooperative effort by Veterans' Employment and Training Service, Women's Bureau, and the Office of the Secretary, kicked off with a listening session on June 19 in Washington, D.C., to discuss challenges for women veterans seeking employment. Approximately 75 attendees gathered to begin a dialogue on creating pathways to economic opportunity for women who are transitioning from military service. In his welcoming remarks, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Veterans Employment and Training Keith Kelly summarized the effort: "At the Department of Labor, we strive to honor your contributions every day. We do this by putting the full weight of our department behind programs to help ensure that rewarding careers are available to veterans when they come home." Women's Bureau Acting Director Latifa Lyles said that the initiative "will identify distinct women veteran economic and employment needs and determine how to maximize the department's resources to meet these needs." Later, attendees broke off into discussions at tables named for notable women veterans, where they discussed issues such as what communication methods will engage the women veterans' communities to ensure access to resources and employment opportunities. Nine days earlier, women veterans who are employees of the department held their own listening session. Feedback from both events will be incorporated into the strategic development of the initiatives' activities and will help drive increased engagement by the department with efforts to help women veterans find good jobs.

View the Slideshow
Visit the New Women Veterans Website
Read the Women's Bureau's Trauma Guide

National News

$20 Million Grant Announced to Prepare Inmates for the Workforce

Building a stable bridge to employment increases the chances that soon-to-be-released inmates can successfully transition back into their communities. The department is helping to build such bridges with a $20 million grant to 16 nonprofit organizations involved in creating or expanding work-release programs. The organizations will provide work skills, education and supportive services to improve participants' long-term employment prospects and secure high-demand occupations within their local communities. Studies show that pre-release programs like those supported by this grant help reduce the rate of recidivism.

Read the News Release

It Happened on the Hill

Groshen Testifies on Prevailing Wage Rates

BLS Commissioner Erica Groshen

The House Subcommittee on Workforce Protections convened a hearing on June 18 to discuss the calculation of prevailing wage rates as determined by the Davis-Bacon Act. Erica Groshen, commissioner of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, testified on how BLS gathers data on occupational wages. Through its Occupational Employment Statistics survey, BLS produces employment and wage estimates annually for more than 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, individual states, and metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The data is used regularly by academic researchers, policy-makers and the general public. As an independent statistical agency, BLS takes no role in regulation, law enforcement and policy making, nor does it conduct policy analysis of any kind.

Read Groshen's Testimony

International Scene

$7.7 Million Grant to Combat Child Labor

A $7.7 million competitive solicitation for a cooperative agreement by the Bureau of International Labor Affairs will help reduce the worst forms of child labor by building local and national capacity of governments in at least 10 countries. The project will support development, improvement and adoption of legislation addressing child labor issues, including compliance with international standards; improve monitoring and enforcement of policies and laws related to child labor; promote adoption of improved national plans of action on child labor; and enhance implementation of policies and programs to reduce and prevent the worst forms of child labor, including programs to increase access to basic education, vocational training, social protection services and poverty reduction initiatives. Eligible applicants must propose to work with host governments to implement actions in countries that have expressed an interest in receiving support to reduce child labor.

Read the News Release

Funding to Reduce Child Labor in Afghanistan

The Bureau of International Labor Affairs announced a $2 million competitive solicitation to fund one or more projects to reduce child labor in home-based carpet production in Afghanistan. The selected organization(s) will partner with at least one company whose source of carpets is from home-based production sites. The project will involve the development and implementation of a sustainable social compliance system for that company's carpet supply chain and establishment of an independent monitoring system to verify its compliance with company standards on child labor. The project will provide remediation services for children in home-based weaving workplaces and support their withdrawal. In addition to social compliance, the selected project will collect reliable data on child labor in the carpet supply chain in Afghanistan and will raise awareness of the dangers of child labor in the carpet industry.

Read the News Release

News You Can Use

New Website Devoted to Women Veterans' Issues

The department has launched a new website devoted to issues and challenges affecting women veterans. The site is a collaborative effort between the Veterans' Employment and Training Service, Women's Bureau and Office of the Secretary and was created as part of the department's initiative to tackle women veteran employment issues. It highlights potential challenges that may affect the economic security of women veterans, including disabilities (women veterans are more likely than their male peers to have a significant service-related disability); marital status (women veterans are nearly twice as likely to be divorced as male veterans); and parenting (11 percent of women veterans are raising children alone, as compared to 4 percent of male veterans). While veterans overall have a higher median earning rate than non-veterans, women veterans tend to earn nearly $6,000 less annually than their male veteran counterparts. The website also contains links with information on employment opportunities, education and health care options, and data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and other government agencies.

Visit the Website

Spotlight on the Retirement Marketplace

Phyllis Borzi, assistant secretary of labor for employment benefits security, spoke about the importance of protecting worker's investments in their individual retirement funds at the Great Lakes Benefits Conference in Chicago, June 14. Click for a larger photo.

Getting good information into the hands of retiement investors and making sure they get the best advice possible are top priorities for the Employee Benefits Security Administration. This was Assistant Secretary Phyllis C. Borzi's message to the Insured Retirement Institute's Government, Legal and Regulatory conference on June 18 in Washington, D.C. Borzi noted that EBSA is diligently working towards publishing a re-proposal of a rule to reduce conflicts of interest in the retirement marketplace. Following her formal remarks, Borzi said that the department is aware of concerns that the re-proposal may need coordination with Securities and Exchange Commission regulations and that the two agencies continue efforts to ensure that compliance with one rule does not put plan sponsors or financial services providers out of compliance with the other. Protecting workers' retirement savings also was the focus of remarks by Borzi at the Great Lakes Benefits Conference in Chicago on June 14. About 300 members of the American Society of Pension Professionals and Actuaries attended the event. "Most of today's workforce will rely solely on money accumulated in 401(k)s and IRAs to fund their retirement," Borzi said. "When they reach out for financial guidance, they find people willing to help but who are not held accountable for the financial advice they provide. We need to change that."

Learn About EBSA
Read the EBSA Newsletter

Around DOL

Veterans Advisory Committee Discusses Employment and Training

VETS Deputy Assistant Secretary for Management John Moran (c) explains agency's latest initiatives as Advisory Committee chairman Paul Bucha and VETS DAS for Policy Teresa Gertson look on. View the slideshow for more images and captions.

The department's Advisory Committee on Veterans Employment, Training and Employer Outreach met on June 20 to discuss initiatives aimed at helping veterans receive training assistance and find jobs. The Veterans' Employment and Training Service is working with the departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs to help create a single Web entry portal for veterans, which would direct them to information for job searches, a military-to-civilian skills translator, and links to benefits such as education, health care and housing. John Moran, VETS' deputy assistant secretary for management, said the agencies also are working on exchanging data that will allow veterans to be contacted more frequently about their career plans and make them aware of priority of services available at American Job Centers. Teresa Gerton, VETS' new deputy assistant secretary for policy, was introduced to the advisory committee members. The panel also discussed issues affecting veterans with disabilities and the department's new Women Veterans Initiative.

View the Slideshow

Canadian Health Department-OSHA Agreement on Chemical Labeling

Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels with Suzy McDonald, director general of Workplace Hazardous Materials Directorate, Healthy Environments and Consumer Safety Branch of the Department of Health of Canada after signing a memorandum of understanding between OSHA and Canada's HECS at the Labor Department on June 19. Click for a larger photo.

To improve collaboration on implementing the globally harmonized chemical labeling system, the Healthy Environments and Consumer Safety Branch of the Canadian Department of Health signed a memorandum of understanding with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The agreement was signed by Suzy McDonald, director general, Workplace Hazardous Materials Directorate, HECS, and Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health, on June 19 in the Frances Perkins Building. OSHA and HECS will establish a working group to improve the systems responsible for safety and health around workplace chemicals. "Today we live and work in a global environment with varying and sometimes conflicting national and international requirements," said Michaels. "Through GHS and now this MOU, OSHA and Health Canada have forged a relationship to jointly provide concise information to protect those exposed to hazardous chemicals."

Read the News Release

DOL Working for You

Michigan Student Excited Job Corps 'Open for Business'

Briana Galloway. Click for a larger photo.

After waiting three months to be admitted, Briana Galloway is excited that Job Corps is once again enrolling new students. The program "is a good thing for kids, and I am excited Job Corps is open for business," she said. Galloway is a student at Michigan's Flint/Genesee Job Corps Center, where she expects to get her GED and certificate in hotel hospitality in early 2014. So determined and driven to succeed, Galloway already has interviewed with a large hotel chain in Detroit, and they have offered her a job as a front desk clerk when she graduates. Galloway said she originally dropped out of Job Corps in 2011 because she wasn't focused or ready to start her training. But when she received notice that she was being readmitted to Job Corps, she recounts, "I was overwhelmed and decided nothing was going to stand in my way this time."

Learn About Job Corps Recruitment

Of Note

Office of Public Affairs Wins Silver Anvil for Labor Day Outreach

Carl Fillichio, senior advisor for communications and public affairs, accepts the Silver Anvil Award from Tanya Maria Morah, APR, associate professor-communications at Wilberforce University in Wilberforce, Ohio, and member of the honor and awards committee of the Public Relations Society of America. Photo courtesy Albert Chau. Click for a larger photo.

One of the most prestigious awards in public relations and communications, the Silver Anvil, has been won by the department's Office of Public Affairs. The OPA team took the top honor for its Labor Day 2012 campaign, winning in the category for events and observances of seven or fewer days. OPA was recognized for conducting a broad-based campaign that included the placement of Labor Day op-eds through a hyper-local distribution strategy and marked increases in social media and web penetration, and in public interaction and engagement with the department. The winners of the 2013 Silver Anvil Awards were announced by the Public Relations Society of America in New York City on June 13. In addition to OPA, winners included Home Depot, Hyundai, Microsoft, Princeton HealthCare System, Starbucks, the U.S. Olympic Committee, Wells Fargo and other well-known organizations. "I am incredibly proud of the OPA national office and regional staff for demonstrating the highest standards of performance on this Labor Day initiative, which informed millions of Americans about the accomplishments of the department," said Carl Fillichio, the department's senior advisor for public affairs and communications.

DOL in Action

More Help for New York and Florida Storm Cleanups

The department awarded additional funding on June 20 for National Emergency Grants to continue storm recovery efforts in New York and Florida. New York received a $23,314,255 grant supplement to continue cleanup following the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy. "Hurricane Sandy damaged communities, businesses and the livelihoods of countless New Yorkers. With this federal grant, impacted communities can push ahead on cleanup projects and provide additional temporary work opportunities for those in need of employment," said acting Secretary Harris. A $1,461,142 grant increment was awarded to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity to continue temporary employment of eligible individuals to assist with cleanup in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Debby.

Read the New York Release
Read the Florida Release

Florida Utility Workers Faced Trenching Hazards

Gulf Coast Utility Contractors LLC in Panama City Beach, Fla., has been cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration with four safety violations for exposing workers to cave-in and other hazards while employees were installing underground utilities. OSHA initiated a December 2012 inspection after inspectors observed hazards while passing by the work site in Panama City Beach. Two months later, a second inspection was conducted after additional trenching hazards were observed in a different area of the same project. The company was cited with two willful violations for failing to provide workers protection against cave-in hazards while they installed underground utilities in a trench greater than 5 feet in depth. Two serious violations were cited for the employer's failure to provide hard hats and a ladder to enter and exit the excavation. Penalties of $106,400 have been proposed.

Read the News Release

Construction Services Agency to Pay $59,209 in Back Wages

Savard Marine Services Inc., a construction services employment agency in Baton Rouge, La., has agreed to pay 107 workers $59,209 in back wages. An investigation by the Wage and Hour Division found the company used improper pay and record-keeping practices that resulted in workers being denied overtime, in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act. According to investigators, the company mischaracterized certain wages as per diem payments and excluded these wages when calculating overtime premiums, denying employees earned overtime compensation. This improper pay practice also resulted in record-keeping violations because the employer failed to maintain accurate records of employees' wages and actual hours worked, as required by the FLSA.

Read the News Release

Helicopter Contractor Faulted for Chemical Hazards

Perkasie, Pa.-based Carson Helicopters Inc. has been cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for eight serious violations, including exposing workers to hazards involving high levels of hexavalent chromium. Other violations include spray booths containing combustible floor linings, as well as the lack of air flow measuring devices and fire extinguisher systems, engineering controls to reduce worker exposure to harmful chemicals, and medical and monitoring programs for exposed workers. The company also was cited for its failure to train workers in hexavalent chromium safety and proper respiratory protection. Proposed penalties total $40,500.

Read the News Release

Massachusetts Restaurants to Pay $205,380 to Kitchen Workers

Boston-area restaurants Pomodoro and Matt Murphy's Pub have agreed to pay $205,380 in back wages and liquidated damages to 13 kitchen workers. A Wage and Hour Division investigation found the employees were paid a weekly salary with no overtime premium for hours worked above 40 in a workweek. The restaurants also failed to combine hours worked by employees at different locations in the same workweek and violated record-keeping provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Read the News Release

New Jersey Construction Company Exposed Workers to Hazards

RPK Construction Inc. of Burlington, N.J., has been cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for three safety violations, including one willful violation. OSHA inspectors cited the company for failure to protect workers from fall hazards while performing framing and other carpentry-related activities in excess of 10 feet above the ground, as well as exposing workers to damaged electrical equipment, among other negligent conditions. A total of $20,680 in penalties was proposed following the February inspection, initiated as part of OSHA's local emphasis program on falls in construction.

Read the News Release

Acid Spill, Safety Violations at Illinois Manufacturer

Advanced Strobe Products Inc. has been cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration with 16 health and safety violations carrying proposed fines of $50,785. OSHA investigated the company's facility in Harwood Heights, Ill., after receiving a complaint about a worker undergoing emergency medical care last January for a leg burn from an acid spill. Among the violations cited was the company's failure to provide and ensure the use of proper personal protective equipment for the worker; 15 of the violations were deemed serious.

Read the News Release

Suit Filed on Behalf of Ohio Gas Station Workers

Following an investigation by the Wage and Hour Division, the department filed a lawsuit in federal court in Cincinnati against R & R Takhar Operations Inc. The Dayton, Ohio, company, which operates 12 gas stations under the Sunoco, Marathon and Shell Oil brands, allegedly violated minimum wage, overtime pay and record-keeping provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The lawsuit seeks to recover back wages and liquidated damages for 80 employees who regularly performed pre- and post-shift work for which they were not compensated, and who were required to reimburse the company for cash register shortages or drive-offs.

Read the News Release

Assistance for Laid-Off Workers in Texas and Minnesota

National Emergency Grants were awarded on June 20 to assist workers affected by layoffs in Texas and Minnesota. A $2,066,314 grant will assist more than 320 workers affected by the closure of a Cargill Meat Solutions Corp., plant in Plainview, Texas. Awarded to the Texas Workforce Commission, the grant will make it possible for eligible dislocated workers to receive re-employment services. In Minnesota, a $594,268 grant will assist about 130 workers impacted by the closure of Edward Jones Mortgage LLC offices in Minneapolis and St. Louis Park, Minn.

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Texas Supermarket Franchisees Are Repeat Offenders

Owners and operators of El Rancho Supermercado grocery store franchises have paid $84,076 in back wages to 1,114 employees working as sackers, cashiers, cooks, bakers, stockers and tortilla makers at 12 store locations throughout Texas. An investigation by the Wage and Hour Division disclosed violations of the minimum wage, overtime, record keeping and child labor provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Many employees were paid on a piece-rate basis rather than an hourly rate. The employers also made illegal deductions from the workers' paychecks for uniforms and cash register shortages. The employers committed similar FLSA violations in the past and, consequently, were assessed an additional $50,410 in civil penalties for repeat wage-related offenses and child labor violations.

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Seattle District Court Grants Preliminary Injunction

The department has filed a complaint in U.S. District Court in Seattle seeking to recover overtime back wages and damages for approximately 100 workers employed by two companies based in Bellingham, Wash. According to the complaint, owners of J & J Mongolian Grill and Spa Therapy failed to pay federal minimum wage and overtime to cooks, kitchen helpers, cashiers and masseuses in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The court granted a request by the department for a preliminary injunction hearing seeking to protect workers from threats and retaliation by the employers.

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Worker Fatally Crushed on Oil Rig

Heller Casing, in Williston, N.D., has been cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for two general duty clause safety violations after a worker was fatally crushed while installing casing pipe on an oil rig in McKenzie County. The incident occurred last January when the worker was struck by an improperly secured load that fell, causing fatal injuries. OSHA cited two serious violations directly related to the fatality that involved the company's failure to protect workers from struck-by and crushing hazards.

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