United States Department of Labor

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November 20, 2014
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By The Numbers By The Numbers: 100,000 submitted applications for health insurance on the 1st day of the 2015 enrollment season.

Work In Progress: The Best of Our Blog

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

Affordable Care Act Is Working: For Lori and Patrick Smith — and for so many other Americans — the Affordable Care Act is providing greater access, affordability and quality, writes Secretary Perez after a recent trip to Cleveland.

Safety Equals Big Savings for Small Businesses: Workplace fatalities and injuries are always tragic, but for a small business they can be completely catastrophic, writes Doug Kalinowski, the director of cooperative and state programs for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Working Together and Imploding Stovepipes: When people have problems, they don't have Labor Department problems, or Health and Human Services problems, or Department of Education problems. They just have problems, writes Secretary Perez.


Lifting All Boats

Timothy Noah, editor of Politico Pro Labor & Employment, listens as Secretary Perez discusses increasing the minimum wage at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 20. Click for a larger photo.

Ensuring affordable education, maintaining the social safety net, supporting families through advance workplace scheduling and increasing the minimum wage were among the topics covered during a wide-ranging discussion on creating opportunities for American workers. The Nov. 20 discussion featured Secretary Perez and four members of Congress — Reps. Joe Barton of Texas, Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, George Miller of California and Phil Roe of Tennessee. Perez told an audience at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., that many Americans, even though the economy is growing, are concerned about wage stagnation. "To me, the major piece of unfinished business is to ensure the rising tide lifts all boats," Perez said. Politico hosted the Newseum event to mark the launch of Politico Pro Labor & Employment, a policy-oriented news service.


'My Brother's Keeper'

Secretary Perez and Mayor Karl Dean meet with stakeholders and community leaders in Nashville to discuss the President's 'My Brother's Keeper' Initiative. Click for a larger photo.

An economy based on shared prosperity must expand opportunity for young men of color. That was Secretary Perez's message during a My Brother's Keeper Local Action Summit at Nashville City Hall with Mayor Karl Dean and other local civic leaders on Nov. 19. My Brother's Keeper, an initiative announced by President Obama earlier this year, is designed to empower boys and young men of color, who are more likely to be born into poverty, more likely to grow up in unsafe neighborhoods and attend low-performing schools, and less likely to have strong and sustained role models. Nashville is one of several cities around the country to accept the president's "MBK Community Challenge" — to implement strategies that help all youth achieve their full potential.


Military Spouse Outreach

Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Veterans' Employment and Training Terry Gerton; 2014 National Guard Spouse of the Year, Alicia Hinds-Ward; U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Thomas Perez; Dr. Ingrid Herrera-Yee, 2013 National Guard Military Spouse of the Year; Dr. Shelley Kimball, 2013 Coast Guard Spouse of the Year; and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employment and Training Gerri Fiala, meet before a webcast on military spouse issues, Nov. 20, 2014. Click for a larger photo.

The three winners of the Military Spouse of the Year award joined Secretary Perez on Nov. 20 for a webcast on military spouse support services available from the department. The three winners, Dr. Shelley Kimball, Dr. Ingrid Herrera-Yee and Alicia Hinds-Ward, were honored by Military Spouse Magazine. The award "recognizes military spouses' important contributions and unwavering commitment to the military community and our country." The webcast, broadcast to 300 locations around the globe, was moderated by Teresa Gerton, deputy assistant secretary for policy at the Veterans' Employment and Training Service. Also on hand was Deputy Assistant Secretary for Employment and Training Gerri Fiala. Perez took questions from each of the award winners, as well as from military spouses tuning in overseas. "I think it's too often forgotten that the demands of military service are borne not only by the men and women who wear the uniform, but also by their families," Perez said. "Because of the sacrifices you make, we here at the Labor Department are here to serve you as well."

Learn More About Military Spouses of the Year


'CareerTech' Honors

Capping off his visit to Nashville, Tenn., Secretary Perez provided the keynote address to the Association for Career and Technical Education's CareerTech VISION 2014 awards banquet on Nov. 19. Click for a larger photo.

Capping off his visit to Nashville, Tenn., Secretary Perez delivered the keynote address to the Association for Career and Technical Education's CareerTech VISION 2014 awards banquet on Nov. 19. As its name suggests, the event honors leaders and innovators in career and technical education from across the country. Honorees ranged from business owners and local elected leaders to workforce development professionals and high school guidance counselors. CTE increasingly has become a centerpiece of the Obama administration's job training agenda, including its focus on expanding apprenticeship programs around the country. Perez thanked the association and its members for their work in preparing young people for careers in high-skilled, high-demand industries. "We know that career and technical education has to be a pillar of our skills agenda, because it's absolutely essential to advancing the goal of shared prosperity," he said.


Health Apprenticeships as a Model

Keeping with the department's efforts to transform apprenticeship for the 21st century, Secretary Perez met with CVS chief executive Larry Merlo while traveling through Woonsocket, R.I., on Nov. 18. The nation's largest pharmacy health provider, CVS started a registered apprenticeship program for pharmacy technicians in 2005, the first such program in the United States. Since then, more than 1,500 workers have participated in the company's health care apprenticeship programs. Perez and Merlo discussed the value apprenticeship has for businesses in all industries and highlighted how CVS could serve as a model for the nation. The department will announce in the coming weeks a $100 million grant competition to support its efforts to expand registered apprenticeship based on consultations with businesses and other apprenticeship sponsors.


Protecting Asian-Pacific Workers

Deputy Secretary Lu convened a roundtable discussion in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 13 to bring together representatives of Asian American and Pacific Islander communities to discuss the challenges facing low-wage immigrant women workers. The session, co-hosted by the White House Asian American and Pacific Islander Initiative, focused on work led by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency to protect nail salon workers from harmful chemicals and fumes. Discussions covered low wages, lack of access to paid sick days, and the discrimination and harassment many immigrant women workers experience. "We know today's immigrant worker will be tomorrow's American worker," said Lu. "And when individuals — like my parents — come to this country looking to sustain their families, serve their communities and build this country, the best thing we can do is make sure they have every opportunity to succeed."


Balancing Work and Family

Women's Bureau Director Latifa Lyles participates in a panel discussion on challenges facing working families.  Watch the Video.

"It's an economic imperative to ensure that women can fully participate" in the economy, said Women's Bureau Director Latifa Lyles during a discussion titled "The Homemaker Mystique." Lyles participated in a panel discussion held by the New America Foundation's Breadwinning and Caregiving program on Nov. 13 in Washington, D.C. Panelists explored the challenges that working families face in balancing work and home life, including finding time away from work to provide care, and the stigmas that parents face when they do take time off. Lyles talked about the department's work to support working families, such as the #LeadOnLeave campaign. New America Foundation president Anne-Marie Slaughter gave welcoming remarks at the event, and celebrity chef Cat Cora delivered a keynote address.

Watch the Video
Learn About Paid Leave


Helping Vets in Pittsburgh

A two-day forum on veterans employment was hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation's Hiring our Heroes in Pittsburgh on Nov. 18 and19. A partnership with the departments of Labor, Defense, Veterans Affairs and Energy, the first day of the summit focused on outreach to employers, providing them with opportunities to find motivated, skilled employees by recruiting veterans who are returning to the Pittsburgh region. Assistant Secretary of Labor for Veterans' Employment and Training Keith Kelly participated in a panel at Heinz Field, home of the Pittsburgh Steelers, where he addressed veterans and military service members ahead of a hiring fair that featured more than 100 companies with immediate hiring opportunities. "You have what companies are looking for, and the Department of Labor can help you translate your experience and skills into a great career," Kelly said. "Come in to one of our 2,500 American Job Centers across the country and let us help you find your next mission."

Find Upcoming Veteran Career Fairs


Promoting Opportunities

The Asian Pacific Islander American Chamber of Commerce and Entrepreneurship hosted its 2014 national conference and awards dinner on Nov. 13 in Washington, D.C. Deputy Secretary Lu delivered the keynote address at the conference, which brought together leaders in the AAPI business community to share best practices on networking and growing their businesses and organizations. Lu talked about the importance of the AAPI community in growing the U.S. economy and providing opportunities for good jobs for American workers. He also spoke about the challenges facing many AAPI communities that struggle with low wages, discrimination and limited access to opportunities to succeed. "Too many workers are helping bake a growing pie, but they're not getting a bigger slice themselves," said Lu. "Our goal is shared prosperity and an economy that is truly shared by everyone."


'Fundamental Income'

Wage and Hour Division Administrator David Weil spoke about the need to raise the national minimum wage at the Federalist Society's National Lawyers Convention on Nov. 13 in Washington, D.C. Click for a larger photo.

The minimum wage is a workplace baseline of fair compensation for all workers. Raising it from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour, as proposed by President Obama, would benefit not only those directly earning the minimum wage, but also workers in wage structures immediately above that — some 28 million workers in all. That's according to Wage and Hour Division Administrator Dr. David Weil, who spoke at the Federalist Society's National Lawyers Convention on Nov. 13 in Washington, D.C. "We are well beyond the time when we should have raised the minimum wage," said Weil, noting that most people who would benefit are working adults. "It is not just a benefit for the teenage worker trying to find extra money to pay for the car. Quite the opposite: it's a fundamental income source for a lot of working families across the country."

Watch the Discussion
Read About the President's Proposal


Networking With Tribal Nations

Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs' Theresa Lujan (second from right) stands with other panel participants at the Arizona Industry Liaison Group conference. Click for a larger photo.

"Networking is the most important step in relationship-building between tribal nations and federal contractors," said Theresa Lujan, director of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs' Indian and Native American Employment Rights Program. Lujan made this observation on Nov. 14 at a conference hosted by the Arizona Industry Liaison Group in Phoenix. Nearly 90 human resource professionals attended a panel discussion in which Lujan addressed Native American employment issues such as reservation employment, Indian Preference, specialized search engines and misconceptions about working with tribal communities. INAERP's mission is to enforce employment rights for American Indians and Alaska Natives who are employed or seek employment with companies doing business with the federal government.


Finding the Performance Edge

Left to Right: Samantha Hennes, CareFusion, Kelly Jenkins-Pultz, Women's Bureau, and Christiane Hoffman, Qualcomm review the Women's Bureau's new factsheet on pay secrecy. Click for a larger photo.

The performance edge enjoyed by companies with a high commitment to workforce diversity was the topic of conversation at a gathering of corporate human resource directors from across the San Diego metro region on Nov. 12. Women's Bureau San Francisco Regional Administrator Kelly Jenkins-Pultz led the discussion, sharing demographic data that projected large increases in San Diego County's proportion of older workers, especially older working women, Hispanic workers and veterans. The University of California San Diego Human Resources Leadership Program hosted the meeting, and participants discussed policies and programs that drive both employee engagement and corporate profitability.


Wage Law Compliance

Increasing compliance with labor laws requires more than enforcement. It also means working with employers to educate them on how to comply with minimum wage, overtime and other labor law requirements. Wage and Hour Division Administrator Dr. David Weil talked about that on Nov. 14 as part of a panel discussion hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Labor Relations Committee. "We want to help employers operate in compliance proactively," said Weil. "Our goal is not to collect back wages, damages and penalties — our goal is not a game of gotcha. Our goal is compliance."

Learn About Compliance Assistance


Nuclear Industry Compensation

Former workers from the General Atomics facility in La Jolla, Calif., have been notified about a new class of employees added to a Special Exposure Cohort of the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Program Act. A worker who is included in the designated SEC class of employees and has been diagnosed with one of 22 specified cancers may receive a presumption of causation under the EEOICPA. The class covers all Atomic Weapons Employees who worked at the facility for at least 250 days from the period Jan. 1, 1960, through Dec. 31, 1969. The EEOICPA provides compensation and medical benefits to workers who became ill as a result of working in the nuclear weapons industry. Survivors of qualified workers also may be entitled to benefits.

Read the News Release
Learn About SECs
Learn About EEOICPA


Weekly UI Claims

The department reported that the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial Unemployment Insurance claims was 291,000 for the week ending Nov. 15, a decrease of 2,000 from the previous week's revised level. The four-week moving average was 287,500, up 1,750 from the previous week's revised average.

Read the News Release


Upcoming Deadlines & Events

Open Funding Opportunities

OFCCP — Construction Compliance Assistance Event

November 21 — Louisville, KY

OFCCP — Overview of Adverse Impact

December 4 — Chicago, IL

OFCCP — Revised Supply and Service Scheduling Letter and Itemized Listing

December 4 — Houston, TX
December 16 — Houston, TX

OFCCP — What to Expect During an OFCCP Audit

December 10 — Dallas, TX

OSHA — National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health Meeting

December 10 — Washington, DC

OWCP — Traveling Resource Center to assist nuclear weapons workers

November 24 — Los Alamos, NM

OSHA — Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health Meeting

December 3 — Washington, DC
December 4 — Washington, DC


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What's New

Struggles Confronting Working Families Highlighted in Boston

Sydney Janey, center, listens to Lenere Smith at Boston roundtable on Nov. 17 for a discussion with Secretary Perez on the challenges facing women in today's workplace. Click for a larger photo.

The struggles of working families and the need for paid leave, a higher minimum wage and creating opportunities for all Americans were in the spotlight at Boston's City Hall on Nov. 17 as U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez met with working mothers, business leaders and others. Rosario Cabrera, a personal care attendant, told Perez that she cannot afford to take a day off without pay when her children are sick, yet she also cannot go to work and put her patients at risk. "We don't have any benefits," Cabrera said. "And if we don't go into work, we don't get paid." Cabrera isn't alone. Last year, the secretary announced a final rule that will offer protections to home care workers who have not received the benefits they deserve. "Starting the first of next year, Ms. Cabrera will be eligible to make the minimum wage and receive overtime protection," Perez told the group. A number of other working women and single mothers also voiced their struggles, from accessing educational resources to ensuring that they could climb the ladder of success. "It's all about shared prosperity," Perez said. "Making sure that the rising tide lifts all the boats and not just the yachts."

Learn About Protections for Home Care Workers

Scaling Apprenticeship to All Communities

Secretary Perez visits the Sheet Metal Workers Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee facility in Dorchester, Mass., on November 17, 2014. The facility is a leader in expanding apprenticeship training to under-represented communities that can serve as a model as the department looks to double the number of apprentices over the next five years. Click for a larger photo.

While the department is taking steps to dramatically increase the number of apprenticeships by expanding the training model to new, high-tech industries, apprenticeships continue to be the cornerstone of training among the building trades. In Massachusetts, the Sheet Metal Workers was the first to register its apprenticeship program in the state in 1952. While visiting the state on Nov. 17, Secretary Perez dropped by the Sheet Metal Workers Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee facility in Dorchester, Mass. The program is a leader in expanding apprenticeship training to under-represented communities through partnerships that include the Building Pathways Program, the department's Women Apprentices in Non-Traditional Occupations, and Helmets to Hardhats for veterans. As the department seeks to expand apprenticeship across the country, the Sheet Metal Workers program can serve as an important model for inclusion.

Learn More About Apprenticeship

What Keeps Nashville Healthy

Secretary Perez takes questions from the news media in Nashville on Nov. 19 following a roundtable discussion on the Affordable Care Act. Click for a larger photo.

The people of Music City are singing a healthy tune these days. Last year, Nashville, Tenn., enrolled more than 49,000 people during the Affordable Care Act's open enrollment period, helping to lower the state's uninsured rate from 15.7 to 12.5 percent. On Nov. 19, Secretary Perez, Nashville Mayor Karl Dean and Metro Health Director Bill Paul toured the Lentz Health Center and spoke with workers about their efforts to provide health services to the city's residents. Perez also participated in a roundtable discussion on how the Affordable Care Act has changed lives and the importance of enrolling before Feb. 15. During his visit, the secretary met Ward Allen and his wife, who had lost their coverage because she had pancreatitis. Ward was later diagnosed with hepatitis C, which went untreated for 20 years because he could not afford treatment. Because of the ACA, Ward and his wife were able to find a plan for just over $100 per month, and Ward received a liver transplant that saved his life. "The Affordable Care Act is working," Perez said. "It is making a powerful difference in the lives of millions of people — providing the accessible, affordable, quality care they deserve." Health Insurance Marketplace enrollment is open through Feb. 15, 2015.

Visit HealthCare.gov

$10.10 Plays Well in Music City

LetterLogic CEO Sherry Deutschmann and employee give Secretary Perez a tour of their facilities in Nashville, Tenn. Click for a larger photo.

On a per capita basis, the number of minimum wage workers in Tennessee is among the highest in the nation and would clearly benefit by an increase to $10.10 per hour. In Nashville on Nov. 19, Secretary Perez continued his effort to raise the federal minimum wage with a visit to LetterLogic, where founder and CEO Sherry Stewart Deutschmann has made investing in her workforce a priority. At the printing company, employees earn a starting wage of $12 an hour, significantly more than the current $7.25 that many workers earn in Tennessee. "What we've seen as the result of the failure to raise the minimum wage is the floor has a lot of trap doors in it, and people have fallen into poverty. And nobody who works a full-time job should have to live in poverty," Perez said. LetterLogic specializes in printing and mailing of statements, invoices, and letters for businesses nationwide. While the Volunteer State has among the highest percentage of minimum wage workers in the nation, it is one of the only states without a minimum wage law. Roughly 117,000 minimum wage workers in Tennessee account for about 7.5 percent of the state's workforce. Earlier this week, the secretary was in Boston, where he met with the founder and chairman of the Boston Beer Company, Jim Koch. The company makes Sam Adams, one of America's most successful craft beers. Koch told Perez that, without his workers, he wouldn't be successful. That's why he not only pays his workers above the minimum wage, but has implemented a paid sick leave program for his 1,200 employees.


National News

Crowd Management Safety Guidelines for the Holiday Season

A retail worker was trampled to death on Black Friday in 2008 when shoppers rushed through the store to take advantage of holiday sales. "During the hectic shopping season, retail workers should not be put at risk of injury or death," said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. On Nov. 13, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration sent letters to major retailers to remind employers about the potential hazards involved with managing large crowds at retail stores during the holiday season when sales events attract a higher number of shoppers. OSHA encourages retailers to use the agency's crowd management safety guidelines to prevent injuries.

Read the News Release
View the Letters
Learn About Crowd Management

Promise of Partnerships Pays Off in Kentucky

Left to right: Mark Mason, USDA Rural Development; Jerry Rickett, Kentucky Highlands Investment Corp, and Ben Seigel, DOL Employment Training Administration, at the site of KHIC's workforce housing initiative in Whitley County, in the Kentucky Highlands Promise Zone. Click for a larger photo.

The Promise Zone initiative is an example of the federal government working across agencies, pooling resources and expertise to create synergy and shared outcomes around jobs, housing, education and health in underserved communities. It's what Secretary Perez calls "stovepipe implosion." The Kentucky Highlands Promise Zone, one of five designated zones nationwide, held a federal partners conference recently in Williamsburg, Ky., bringing together more than 20 local partner organizations with federal agencies, including the departments of Labor, Agriculture, Housing and Urban Development, and the Corporation for National and Community Service. Ben Seigel, senior policy advisor with the Employment and Training Administration, discussed departmental programs and investments benefiting the zone, including a National Emergency Grant that, to date, has helped more than 900 dislocated coal miners transition into new jobs and industries. Other department activities in the zone include the development of new Registered Apprenticeships in advanced manufacturing and IT, a Youth CareerConnect grant with the Knox County School District, and a YouthBuild grant to the Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program.

Public Hearing on Credit Suisse Set for January

The department has announced a public hearing to decide whether, and under what conditions, affiliates of Credit Suisse will be permitted to continue to provide asset management services to retirement accounts after the company pleaded guilty to conspiracy to engage in tax fraud. Companies convicted and sentenced for not adhering to the law are generally prohibited from operating as a Qualified Professional Asset Manager. In the past, the department has granted exemptions that included rigorous requirements designed to protect individuals covered by retirement plans. In addition to the hearing, the department also announced a temporary exemption, with conditions, permitting Credit Suisse affiliates to continue to provide services to retirement plans. Finally, the department announced a new notice for a proposed exemption for Credit Suisse, which includes feedback and comments received from the public. The public hearing will take place on Jan.15, 2015, at department headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Read the News Release


International Scene

Bringing a Global Perspective to Workforce Development

Deputy Secretary Chris Lu (left), Associate Deputy Undersecretary for International Affairs Mark Mittelhauser (center), and Assistant Secretary for Employment and Training Portia Wu (right) discuss workforce development during a workshop co-sponsored by the department and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 18, 2014. Click for a larger photo.

Representatives from the department, led by Deputy Secretary of Labor Christopher P. Lu, participated in a workforce development workshop co-sponsored by the department and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development on Nov. 18 in Washington, D.C. International experts joined department officials, business and labor representatives, and local stakeholders to discuss innovative workforce development policies to support job creation at the local level. Participants discussed ways to expand job-driven training strategies by forging partnerships with local employers, educational institutions and the workforce system. This meeting was a follow-up to the successful G20 labor ministers meeting in Australia attended by Secretary Perez earlier this year. The Bureau of International Labor Affairs and the Employment and Training Administration organized the workshop, and the department's chief economist, Heidi Sheirholz, and Portia Wu, assistant secretary of labor for employment and training, presented the administration's priorities, including the implementation of the newly passed Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act — the foundation of the federal job training programs.


Around DOL

Apprenticeship Committee Convenes Amid Expansion Efforts

Secretary Perez (second from right) listens in during a meeting of the Advisory Committee on Apprenticeship on November 18, 2014. The group is helping the Department of Labor take several steps to transform the registered apprenticeship program for the 21st century, including making an unprecedented $100 million investment to expand the program to new industries and occupations. Click for a larger photo.

The department is taking several steps to transform the registered apprenticeship program for the 21st century, including making an unprecedented $100 million investment to expand to new industries and occupations. Through these efforts, the goal is to double the number of apprenticeships nationwide. As part of the ongoing initiative, the Secretary's Advisory Committee on Apprenticeship met in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 18 and 19 to discuss strategies for achieving these goals. The advisory committee is comprised of members of the industry, labor groups and public and provides advice on matters related to the registered apprenticeship program. Secretary Perez dropped by the committee meetings to talk about the opportunity to lift up the apprenticeship program through the upcoming grant competition, as well as in the implementation of the new Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.


DOL Working for You

New Orleans Construction Worker 'Had Faith' on Help With Wages

Ruben Martinez. Click for a larger photo.

Taking care of family is job one for Ruben Martinez, so working long hours at Queen's Construction in New Orleans made sense — except when he was not getting paid for overtime. When the Wage and Hour Division stepped in to investigate, the agency found that Martinez and 52 of his co-workers were not being properly paid for their time worked. "I am grateful that there is an agency like yours that is concerned about helping us and does what is just," Martinez told Wage and Hour investigator Maria Pitts of the Kenner Field Office. Pitts' investigation found that Queen's Construction paid straight time rates to employees for all hours worked, even those in excess of 40 in a workweek. Additionally, the company failed to keep accurate records or make any federal withholdings. As a result of the investigation, the company has agreed to return $34,818 to the employees, including Martinez, who said, "We all need our jobs to take care of our families, so we work even if we don't get paid overtime. I always had faith that someday the Labor Department would come in and help."


DOL in Action

Aid Available for Pharmaceutical Industry Workers in Massachusetts

Re-employment assistance will be available for workers affected by the closure of three pharmaceutical facilities in east-central Massachusetts, the department has announced. On Nov. 19, the department said it would provide a $169,813 National Emergency Grant incremental award to continue re-employment services to former employees of the Alaunus Pharmaceutical LLC, Ameridose LLC, Medical Sales Management Inc. and New England Compounding Center. This incremental funding was awarded to Massachusetts' Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development.

Read the News Release

Auto Parts Manufacturer Faces $342,000 in Penalties

Tenneco Automotive Operating Co. Inc., received penalties totaling $342,250 from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which issued 27 safety and health violations following an inspection at the Hartwell, Ga., plant in May. Elite Logistic Service Inc., a staffing agency that provides temporary employees to Tenneco, also was cited for one serious safety violation. Violations included exposing workers to slip and fall hazards, failing to protect workers from moving machine parts during service and maintenance, neglecting to protect employees from dangerous equipment with required guarding, and exposing workers to struck-by and crushing hazards. OSHA initiated the inspection after receiving a complaint alleging improper material handling and machine guarding hazards. Tenneco has been placed in OSHA's Severe Violator Enforcement Program.

Read the News Release

Idaho Restaurant Compensates Workers for Overtime Violations

An Italian restaurant in Meridian, Idaho, has agreed to pay more than $21,000 in back wages due to 11 employees for overtime violations found during an investigation. Gino's Italian Ristorante and Bar failed to pay appropriate time and one-half for hours that exceeded 40 in a workweek. The employer compensated four staff, three cooks and the business manager at straight time for all hours worked. Seven tipped employees received incorrect overtime pay as the employer misapplied the tip credit in overtime calculations. In addition, two minors were employed in violation of child labor standards. The minors, under the age of 16, worked longer hours than allowable on school nights.

New Jersey Box Manufacturer Cited in Serious Crushing Industry

After entering a die cutting machine to perform maintenance, a worker employed for 26 years at Accurate Box Co. Inc. was crushed when the die cutter was activated by another employee unaware that the victim was inside. A subsequent investigation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration found one repeat and four serious violations at the company's Paterson, N.J., manufacturing plant. OSHA cited the manufacturer of corrugated cardboard boxes for failing to implement an effective lockout/tagout program to prevent inadvertent machine startup and similar incidents, and for lack of machine guarding and lockout/tagout deficiencies.

Read the News Release

Unsafe Practices Continue at Dollar General Store

Dollar General Corp. was cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for four repeat safety violations following an inspection at a retail store in Brooklyn, Miss. The violations were issued for the company's failure to keep exit routes, fire extinguishers and electrical access panels unblocked, as well as not inspecting portable fire extinguishers annually. "This is another example of a corporation not sharing safety information with all its employees. These violations have been cited previously in other Dollar General stores across the country," said Eugene Stewart, director of OSHA's Jackson, Miss., Area Office. OSHA, which initiated the August inspection in response to a complaint, has proposed penalties totaling $51,700.

Read the News Release

Florida Company Pays More Than $280,000 in Back Wages, Penalties

Federal Verification Co. Inc., doing business as GSA Applications in Oldsmar, Fla., has paid $140,393 in back wages and an equal amount of liquidated damages to 101 employees following an investigation by the Wage and Hour Division. The investigation revealed that salespeople were misclassified as independent contractors and paid below the federal minimum wage. Some employees also were paid commissions that did not equal at least the federal minimum wage and in some cases were denied overtime compensation. Federal Verification prepares applications for businesses that seek to obtain federal contracts.

Read the News Release

Cleaning Up the Texas Car Wash Industry

Improving compliance within the full service car wash industry is the goal of an enforcement initiative underway by the Wage and Hour Division's San Antonio District Office. During the past year, the division conducted more than 18 car wash investigations in San Antonio and Austin, Texas, and found 1,039 employees were owed more than $91,000 in back wages for violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act. "This initiative has been a great opportunity to educate employers and workers in this industry. We anticipate making even greater strides in compliance next year," said Cynthia Watson, administrator for the Wage and Hour Division in the Southwest.

Driver's Obstructed View Led to Fatal Injury to Dairy Worker

During an investigation of an accident at Double Dutch Dairy in Shelby, Neb., in which a worker was fatally injured after being struck by a front-end loader hauling hay, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration found that the driver's view had been obstructed. OSHA cited the company for four serious safety violations. Investigators also determined that workers were neither trained in safe equipment operation nor required to use seat belt restraints. "This was a horrible and senseless tragedy. No worker should ever lose their life because they did not receive adequate training or protection," said Bonita Winingham, OSHA's area director in Omaha.

Read the News Release

Connecticut Fire Sparks Inspection; 20 Violations Found

After titanium dust ignited a fire in a precision machining shop in Vernon, Conn., the Occupational Safety and Health Administration launched an inspection and issued 20 safety and health violations to Soldream, Inc. A workbench in the finishing room of the facility caught fire in May, as an employee cleaned titanium aircraft parts. OSHA found that the bench had not been designed or equipped for work with titanium and that the bench and the room's dust collection system lacked adequate fire and explosion controls. Flammable titanium dust had also settled on electrical equipment. Other fire hazards stemmed from the lack of sprinklers and fire safeguards, and employees did not have hands-on training to use portable fire extinguishers.

Read the News Release

Agricultural Investigations in Florida Recover More Than $131,000

A multiyear enforcement initiative by the Wage and Hour Division has uncovered widespread labor violations in the central Florida agricultural industry. During fiscal year 2014, the division's Tampa District Office conducted 155 agricultural investigations and recovered more than $131,000 in back wages for 387 workers. The division also assessed approximately $196,000 in civil penalties. Investigators found migrant workers were often required to perform intense physical labor for long periods without compensation. Other labor violations exposed these workers to unsafe transportation and unsanitary housing conditions as well as employment conditions that were not disclosed. The initiative focused on hand-harvested crops — including citrus, strawberries, tomatoes, blueberries and watermelons — where many vulnerable migrant workers are employed.

Read the News Release

Virginia Ship Repair Facility Faulted on Hazards

While welding the frame of a U.S. Navy vessel, a shipyard worker was just one foot away from three open manholes into which he could have fallen. These and other safety and health hazards were cited following an investigation at Colonna's Shipyard Inc., a ship repair facility in Norfolk, Va., that was conducted by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in May. The company received citations for 12 violations, including four repeat, and faces $101,000 in proposed penalties.

Read the News Release

Alabama Shipbuilder Lacks Safety Procedures

Austal USA LLC was cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for 12 safety and health violations following an inspection in May at the Mobile, Ala., shipbuilder's facility. The violations were issued for a lack of standard railings on all staircases, improperly secured gas cylinders, and the company's failure to reduce the pressure in a compressed air device used for cleaning. OSHA also cited the company for allowing worker overexposure to copper fumes during welding operations. The agency initiated the inspection based on a complaint and proposed penalties totaling $41,500. Austal USA designs and manufactures defense and commercial ships.

Read the News Release

Brake Manufacturer Fails to Properly Guard Dangerous Equipment

Nissin Brake Georgia Inc. was cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for 11 safety and health violations following an inspection in June at the manufacturer's Rock Spring, Ga., facility. The violations included allowing employees to adjust and bypass safety guards when entering a machine for servicing or maintenance, failure to protect workers from dangerous equipment that required machine guards, and a lack of safe-practices training associated with electrical shock and arc flash hazards. Proposed penalties total $53,000.

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Freight Shipping Terminal Faces $330,000 in Fines for Hazards

Employees at the Central Transport LLC freight shipping terminal in Billerica, Mass., were exposed to electrocution, falls, crushing and other injuries, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration found. OSHA determined that the building's roof leaked water onto the work floor where electrical cabinets and forklift battery chargers were located. Employees stood in water while plugging in battery chargers and drove forklifts in slippery conditions. This exposed workers to possible electrocution, forklift tip-overs and slipping hazards. Central Transport LLC faces $330,800 in fines.

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