United States Department of Labor

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August 28, 2014
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2014 Labor Day Banner
By The Numbers By The Numbers: The private sector has added 2.1 million jobs to the economy since Labor Day 2013.

Work In Progress: The Best of Our Blog

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

4 Ways to Achieve More Economic Equity: On Women's Equality Day — which falls on Aug. 26, the date that the 19th Amendment was ratified in 1920 — Women's Bureau Director Latifa Lyles writes about the work that remains to be done to achieve workplace equality and economic security for women in America, and includes four steps we can take today to pursue more equal workplaces.

Hitting a Homerun for Small Businesses 5 Years in a Row: Sonya Carrion, director of the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization, reports on the department's recent success in meeting and exceeding the government's goals for contracting with small businesses.

When the Earth Shakes, OSHA Listens: After an Aug. 24 earthquake in Napa County, Calif., — the largest in the region in 25 years — Mandy Edens, director of OSHA's Directorate of Technical Support and Emergency Management, cautions readers on the potential hazards during and after earthquakes and what steps should be taken to prevent worker injuries.

DOL A to Z

This week's term is VEVRAA. The Vietnam Era Veterans' Readjustment Assistance Act prohibits employment discrimination against protected veterans, and requires federal contractors to take active steps to employ them.

Learn About VEVRAA
See All the A-Z Terms

Job Corps 'Makes a Difference'

Deputy Secretary of Labor Chris Lu gives remarks to students at the 50th anniversary celebration of Job Corps at the Woodland Job Corps Center in Laurel, Md., on Aug. 25, 2014. Click for a larger photo.

Maryland employers, workforce development officials, community partners, Job Corps alumni and elected officials gathered with student leaders at the Woodland Job Corps Center in Laurel, Md., for its 50th anniversary celebration on Aug. 25. Deputy Secretary Lu addressed students at the event honoring Maryland's congressional delegation for its support of Job Corps. Lu encouraged the audience to "look at the statistics and the students" to gauge the effectiveness of the program. "Job Corps still fulfills the mission President Johnson envisioned 50 years ago," he said. House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, Rep. John Sarbanes, Howard County Executive Ken Ulman and Job Corps Regional Director Dr. Francis Cole also attended. Hoyer spoke about how Job Corps is a key element in training America's future workforce and noted, "Job Corps is a good investment. This program works. It makes a difference. It makes America better."

Read the 50th Anniversary Blog Posts

Who Founded Labor Day?

History of Labor Day. Click for a larger photo.

With Labor Day around the corner, it's a great time to revisit the history of the holiday that celebrates working people. For years, the founding of Labor Day has been debated because two men with the same-sounding last name took credit. Was it Peter J. McGuire, co-founder of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters, or Matthew Maguire, the machinist? Drum roll, please. There is mounting evidence that machinist Matthew Maguire of New Jersey founded Labor Day in 1882. American Federation of Labor founder Samuel Gompers, President Grover Cleveland, and the Department of Labor agree. "As you think about the true meaning of the upcoming holiday, let's remember that Labor Day is unique in that it pays tribute to the contributions that working men and women make to the strength and prosperity of our nation," Carl Fillichio, the department's senior advisor for communications and public affairs, said in a recent interview about Labor Day history.

Watch the Video
Learn More Labor Day History

Meet the DOL Leadership Team

Christopher Godfrey, chief judge and chairman of the Employees' Compensation Appeals Board. Click for a larger photo.

Christopher Godfrey has been appointed chief judge and chairman of the Employees' Compensation Appeals Board. Prior to joining the board, Godfrey worked in the Iowa Division of Workers' Compensation, where he served as CEO and later as commissioner. Before that, Godfrey practiced workers' compensation and employment discrimination law in the private sector. He holds a J.D. from Drake Law School and a B.A. in Political Science from Drake University. Created in 1946, the Employees' Compensation Appeals Board hears appeals taken from determinations and awards under the Federal Employees' Compensation Act with respect to claims of federal employees injured on the job. The board consists of three judges, including the chief judge.

Read About FECA
Learn About ECAB

Workforce Forum in Chicago

Deputy Secretary Lu visited the University of Chicago on Aug. 22 to deliver the keynote address at its Local Workforce Conference 2014. The conference focused on how trends in the national workforce landscape connect to workforce development in Chicago. Lu spoke about the Obama administration's commitment to opportunity for all and how recent legislation to modernize the nation's federal job-training programs will help prepare job seekers and employers for the 21st century global economy. The conference brought together more than 200 workforce development practitioners from around the Chicago region.

Facebook Welcomes Veterans

Deputy Assistant Secretary for Veterans' Employment and Training Teresa Gerton delivers remarks at the first VetsInTech Women Veterans Hackathon at Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., on Monday, Aug. 25. Click for a larger photo.

The first VetsInTech Women Veterans Hackathon was held at Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., on Aug. 25. Deputy Assistant Secretary for Veterans' Employment and Training Teresa Gerton was on hand to cheer on 50 women veterans and would-be entrepreneurs who gathered to pitch their ideas, get technical advice, and compete for seed funding. "Employers everywhere are looking for veterans to bring mission-driven focus and leadership to their businesses, not out of charity, but because veterans make great employees," Gerton told the group. Women and veterans are underrepresented in entrepreneurial fields, especially those in science, technology, engineering and mathematics occupations; the event was designed to help participants gain the skills necessary to break down those barriers.

Explore the Women Veterans Initiative

Focus on Safety, Health Systems

More than 2,000 participants dedicated to cooperative occupational safety and health and environmental management systems gathered in National Harbor, Md., on Aug. 25-28 for the 30th annual Voluntary Protection Program Participants' Association's National Conference. Secretary Perez sent a welcome message via video, and Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels delivered remarks. In his speech, Michaels announced the publication of new recommended practices to protect temporary workers and encouraged continued engagement from employers on big issues that affect workplace safety and health. Staff from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration participated in workshops and panels, making presentations and recognizing employers for their dedication to programs like VPPPA.

Learn About the VPPPA
Read About Temporary Workers

Women in Transportation

Women make up nearly half of the labor force, but hold only a small portion of the often in-demand and higher paying jobs in the transportation industry. On Aug. 21, the Women's Bureau held a webinar with Women's Transportation Seminar entitled "Women in Transportation Careers: Obstacles and Opportunities." The webinar brought together more than 100 transportation industry professionals interested in increasing the presence of women in the field, as well as women considering entering a career in transportation. Representatives from the aviation, railway and highway industries discussed best practices for recruitment and retention of women, along with associated challenges and opportunities.

Weekly UI Claims

The department reported that the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial Unemployment Insurance claims was 298,000 for the week ending Aug. 23, a decrease of 1,000 from the previous week's revised level. The four-week moving average was 299,750, down 1,250 from the previous week's revised average.

Read the News Release

Upcoming Deadlines & Events

Open Funding Opportunities

EBSA — Get Prepared to Make Timely Decisions for Your Retirement Webcast

September 9 — Washington, DC

EBSA — Health Benefits Laws Compliance Assistance Seminar

September 9 — Los Angeles, CA
September 10 — Los Angeles, CA

ODEP — Designing for the Future: Building Accessible Technology for the Workplace

September 3 — Washington, DC

OFCCP — Compliance Assistance for New and/or Small Contractors

September 16 — Birmingham, AL
September 16 — Jackson, MS

OFCCP — Introduction to the New Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act Regulations

September 18 — Portland, OR

OFCCP — Introduction to the New VEVRAA Regulations

September 18 — Portland, OR

OFCCP — Open House/Networking Event

September 9 — Houston, TX

OFCCP — Section 503 and VEVRAA Regulations Update

September 11 — Dallas, TX

OFCCP — Seminar for Federal Contractors "The New VEVRAA Regulations"

September 10 — Orange, CA

OFCCP — What to Expect During an OFCCP Audit

September 16 — Atlanta, GA

OLMS — Compliance Assistance Seminar

September 18 — Madison Heights, MI

OLMS — Trustee Workshop

September 17 — Madison Heights, MI

OSHA — Whistleblower Protection Advisory Committee Meeting

September 3 — Washington, DC
September 4 — Washington, DC

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What's New

Just in Time for Labor Day: Atlanta's 'Secret Sauce' to Success

Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez watches himself in animation at the Bento Box Animation Studio in Atlanta, Aug. 22. Click for a larger photo.

Bento Box Animation Studios, a California-based company known for the award-winning production of "Bob's Burgers," recently picked Atlanta as the location for its newest office. With technology rapidly evolving, Bento Box partnered with the Atlanta Regional Commission and used Workforce Investment Act funds to create an on-the-job training program that has helped hire more than 40 skilled employees over the last two years. On Aug. 22, U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez stopped by the Atlanta office to highlight this successful partnership and to see first-hand how the training program has been a big part of the company's expansion and success in Atlanta. Animation Director Aaron Hawkins explained to Perez that the WIA investments allowed him to participate in three months of on-the-job training and led him to a full-time job at Bento Box, where he now serves as an onsite supervisor. "This is a great example of partnership between a business, and state and federal government in order to provide workers with the skills they need for in-demand jobs. Not only did Aaron get the training he needed to become an animation director, but he is now training and supervising new employees. This is the secret sauce to success," Perez said. Bento Box Co-founder and CEO Scott Greenberg and COO Brett Coker also joined the secretary for his visit. The trip to Atlanta capped a week-long discussion, in advance of Labor Day, with workers, employers and community leaders across the country on the nation's economy and how much more must be done to put opportunity within reach of all.

Read Blogs From the Trip

On Labor Day, Honoring the Nation's Workers

In this year's Labor Day statement by Secretary Perez, he notes that the national holiday provides an opportunity to recognize "the invaluable contributions that working men and women make to our nation." The Obama administration has undertaken a series of initiatives that honor workers, including "investing more than a $1 billion in job-driven training programs to give Americans the skills employers need," the secretary said. Perez issued his Labor Day message on Aug. 28, noting that "I'm optimistic about where we're headed — and I know we wouldn't be where we are without the resilience, commitment and strength of American workers."

Read the Labor Day Statement

Standing Up for Workers During Labor Rights Week

Wage and Hour Division Deputy Administrator Laura Fortman (left) and Carlos Martín Jiménez Macías, consul general for the Mexican Consulate in Chicago, at Local 181 Carpenters' Union headquarters in Elk Grove, Illinois, on Aug. 26, 2014. Click for a larger photo.

Each year before Labor Day, the department participates in Labor Rights Week, a collaborative effort with foreign embassies and their consulates to increase awareness and inform workers and employers about their rights and responsibilities under U.S. labor laws. At an event hosted by the Mexican Consulate of Chicago in Elk Grove, Ill., on Aug. 26, Wage and Hour Division Deputy Administrator Laura Fortman told more than 70 carpenter apprentices about the wage protections they are afforded under the Fair Labor Standards Act, and affirmed that the agency can investigate wage complaints. "We have staff across the country ready to help, including employees who are multi-lingual," she said. At the Mexican Consulate in Philadelphia on Aug. 27, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy Kathy Martinez discussed the importance of integrating all people into the workforce. "Whether someone is born with a disability or acquires one, they simply cannot afford to sit on the sidelines," she said. "We all have something to contribute."

Read the WHD Blog Post
Read the OSHA Blog Post
View Labor Rights Week Events
Learn About the Consular Partnership Program

National News

Update on Asian American and Pacific Islander Labor Force

The Asian American and Pacific Islander community is diverse and its status in the U.S. labor force varies widely. A new report released by the department on Aug. 28 breaks down economic and labor market data of the Asian American populations by nationality, allowing a more precise look at how the various AAPI communities are faring since the 2007-2009 recession. Deputy Secretary of Labor Christopher P. Lu and Reps. Judy Chu and Grace Meng, members of the Congressional Asian and Pacific American Caucus, participated in a conference call with reporters and the AAPI stakeholder community to announce the report. They discussed its findings and the importance of developing strong data for AAPI workers. The document expands upon "The Asian American Labor Force In the Recovery" report issued in July 2011.

Read the Report

International Scene

U.S., Myanmar Agree to Develop Labor Rights Initiative

The United States and Myanmar issued a joint statement on Aug. 28 regarding the development of a new initiative to promote fundamental labor rights and practices in Myanmar. The Bureau of International Labor Affairs said it looks forward to working with the Government of Myanmar and labor and business stakeholders as part of the U.S. government's efforts to ensure that this new initiative is meaningful and productive. ILAB is encouraged by the initiative's stated goals "to develop a multi-year strategy for labor law reform and capacity building, to implement fundamental labor rights and decent working conditions on the ground, and to foster strong relations between businesses, workers, and the government of Myanmar." In addition, the International Labour Organization praised the agreement, saying the initiative "sends a message that internationally-recognized labour standards and responsible business practices will be at the forefront of Myanmar's reform and development process."

Read the Joint Statement

U.S.-China Safety Dialogue

Assistant Secretary for Mine Safety and Health Joseph Main presents at the 2014 U.S.-China Dialogue on Workplace Safety and Health in Beijing, Aug. 20. Click for a larger photo.

Beijing was the setting recently for the 2014 U.S.-China Dialogue on Workplace Safety and Health. In remarks delivered on Aug. 20, Assistant Secretary for Mine Safety and Health Joseph Main discussed the framework that the federal government uses to implement safety and health protections, including the legislative, regulatory and administrative process. "A strong regulatory process is one that is based on the rule of law, is fully transparent, and gives the public an opportunity to provide input on a rule before it takes effect," said Main. "This type of procedure ensures that government agencies develop strong and workable regulations based on the best evidence possible." A representative from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration visited the Hydrogen Peroxide Manufacturing Plant at the Jinmei Riyue Chemical Co. in Jinan, Shandong, and discussed process safety implementation, efforts and challenges.

DOL Working for You

Grant Provides Opportunity to Grow Orchid Company, Train Workers

Amanda Perez, a laboratory technician in the sterile climate chambers for Hark Orchids LP in Kalamazoo, Michigan, conducts in-vitro propagation by placing orchid sprouts in growing medium under sterile conditions. Click for a larger photo.

Facing the daily challenge of supporting a family with a seasonal job, Amanda Perez, 34, is one of 10 workers hired at an orchid laboratory in Kalamazoo, Mich., under a grant program funded by the department. Perez applied through Michigan Works!, which received a grant of $3.4 million to recruit and train workers who lost jobs in the manufacturing and agricultural sectors because of the 2008 recession. Perez, who had experience transplanting seedlings in a prior job, received specialized on-the-job training to become an orchid propagation lab associate at Hark Orchids LP. The company, based in Germany, opened its Kalamazoo facility in 2013. "This job has taught me some valuable skills, and being able to work full-time has made a tremendous difference to my family," said Perez. "I like the job environment here so much that I encouraged my husband to apply and he was recently hired, too." The Dislocated Worker Training National Emergency Grant received by Michigan Works! helped lure the Hark Orchids lab, which requires standardized work procedures, to Kalamazoo. "We were drawn to the southwest Michigan area because of the work ethic and availability of the work force," said Frank Rinderspacher, Hark Orchids general manager.

Learn About National Emergency Grants

DOL in Action

Roofers in Illinois Exposed to Dangerous Conditions

Employees at an Illinois construction site were expected to work on a low-sloped roof, 13 feet above the ground, without the recommended means of fall protection. Champion Roofing Inc. of Bensenville, Ill., has been cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for two willful safety violations for exposing workers to fall hazards. The company was cited by OSHA five times in the past five years for similar violations. "Champion Roofing has a legal responsibility to protect workers from fall hazards. They are not taking that responsibility seriously," said Kathy Webb, OSHA's area director in Calumet City. Proposed penalties total $48,400.

Read the News Release

Independent Fiduciary Appointed for Abandoned Benefit Plan

The department has secured the appointment of an independent fiduciary to administer the abandoned Amerindo Investment Advisors Inc. Employee Savings Plan in New York City. The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York appointed M. Larry Lefoldt to administer the plan and, if necessary, to implement its orderly termination. Lefoldt is tasked with developing a strategy for payment of retirement benefits — approximately $308,438 in plan assets — to 26 participants. Under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, the plan's original fiduciary is prohibited from serving as a fiduciary due to his conviction on counts of conspiracy, fraud, money laundering and making false statements.

Read the News Release

Employees Installing Storm Sewers Were at Risk of Trench Collapse

Two employees of DiMeo Brothers Inc. were observed on April 14 working in a 25 foot-deep trench without adequate cave-in protection while installing storm sewers for the Village of Glenview, Ill., in April. Consequently, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited the sewer and water contractor for one willful and two serious safety violations carrying proposed penalties of $44,660.

Read the News Release

Texas Business Owner Sued for Missing Retirement Contributions

The department has sued Kelly Bailey, owner of SCK Management Services Inc., and doing business as PROS Rehabilitation, in an effort to recover $136,484 in missing employee retirement contributions and $24,464 in losses from appreciation accruing on those missing funds. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division, alleges that Bailey violated the Employee Retirement Income Security Act by using assets belonging to the employee retirement plan for the benefit of her business operations. An Employee Benefits Security Administration investigation revealed that, for more than two years, Bailey withheld from employees' pay money intended for retirement plan contributions, but did not forward those funds to the retirement plan. The department seeks a court order requiring the restoration of all plan losses. PROS Rehabilitation, located in Keene, engaged in providing therapy services to skilled nursing facilities throughout Texas.

Read the News Release

'Unacceptable Work Environment' at Alabama Lumber Mill

PJ Lumber Co., a manufacturer of finished lumber products, was cited for 13 serious safety and health violations by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration following an inspection at the company's lumber mill in Pritchard, Ala. The citations were issued for missing handrails on stairways, amputation hazards from exposed moving machinery parts, and exposure to high noise levels without an effective hearing protection plan. "PJ Lumber has created an unacceptable work environment at this lumber mill and has shown a complete disregard for its workers' health and safety," said Joseph Roesler, director of OSHA's Mobile Area Office. Proposed penalties total $50,085.

Read the News Release

San Antonio Company to Pay Overtime Back Wages

Costa Solutions LLC in San Antonio, Texas, a warehouse service provider for the HEB grocery chain, agreed to pay $146,459 in overtime back wages to 63 current and former employees after an investigation found the employer violated the overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act. According to the Wage and Hour Division, the employer failed to pay overtime to a group of hourly supervisors and assistant supervisors — many of whom worked well beyond 40 hours in a workweek — and failed to include all earnings when calculating employees' overtime rates.

Read the News Release

No Fall Protection for Workers at New Jersey Construction Site

Concrete Systems Inc. in Stirling, N.J., has been cited for one repeat and seven serious safety hazards following a February investigation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. OSHA investigators opened the inspection after observing workers constructing formwork without fall protection at a construction site in Bloomfield, N.J. The investigation also was initiated as part of the agency's local emphasis program on fall hazards in construction. The repeat hazard, cited previously in 2012, was issued because employees were exposed to a 25-foot fall hazard without the proper protection. The serious violations were almost entirely related to fall safety standards. Proposed penalties total $52,470.

Read the News Release

Lack of Machine Guarding Exposed Workers to Amputation Hazards

Workers at Film Pak Extrusion LLC in Paterson, N.J., were exposed to amputation and other safety and health hazards, according to an investigation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. OSHA issued citations for one willful and 12 serious workplace violations related to the dangerous conditions following an inspection in February. The willful violation was issued for a lack of machine guarding. The company manufactures products under the name Frost King, a well-known, do-it-yourself brand of supplies for contractors. Penalties of $90,300 have been proposed.

Read the News Release

Plastics Manufacturer Cited for 24 Safety and Health Violations

Employees at Superior Plastics Extrusion Co. Inc., doing business as Impact Plastics in Putnam, Conn., were exposed to two dozen safety and health hazards, including falls and mechanical hazards, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. "This inspection uncovered a wide range of safety and health hazards, which could injure, sicken or even kill employees," said Warren Simpson, OSHA's area director in Hartford. "While the range of hazards in a manufacturing setting can be broad, their proliferation is unacceptable." The company faces $66,780 in fines.

Read the News Release

Impact Inspections Conducted at 18 Mining Operations in July

Federal inspectors with the Mine Safety and Health Administration issued 190 citations and eight orders during special impact inspections conducted at 18 mining operations in July. The initiative, which began in April 2010, concentrates on mines with a history of compliance problems. Joseph Main, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health, believes the program is working. "A review of mines receiving impact inspections between September 2010 and March 2014 and having had at least one follow-up inspection shows that these enforcement actions have made mines safer," he said.

Read the News Release

Colorado Roofer Exposed Workers to Asbestos

Commercial roofer Douglass Colony Group Inc. was cited for four repeat and seven serious violations by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for failing to protect workers from asbestos exposure at a Denver work site. Three of the four repeat violations were for failure to provide a competent supervisor to oversee the removal of asbestos-containing material, conduct an asbestos exposure assessment, and provide adequate training for workers performing asbestos removal duties. The fourth repeat violation was for failure to remove asbestos-containing material properly to minimize potential release of airborne asbestos. Proposed penalties total $81,000.

Read the News Release

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