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DOL News Brief

May 5, 2011

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DOL's Difficult Funding Choices

Secretary Solis testifies before Congress on the DOL budget. View the slideshow for more photos.

The department's fiscal year 2012 budget was up for discussion as Secretary Solis testified on Wednesday before the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Committee on Appropriations. During her testimony, Solis highlighted the department's efforts to help America win the future while still making difficult funding choices. She also announced a $10 million National Emergency Grant to assist with cleanup and recovery efforts in the wake of the severe storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds and flooding that struck Alabama last month. The department's on-going evaluation of Job Corps and other agency programs was also discussed.

Job Corps' Extreme Makeover

Job Corps students in Florida helped demolish and rebuild a home for a TV show. Click on the image for a larger photo.

Have you ever wondered how ABC's Extreme Makeover: Home Edition can demolish and construct a house in one week? In January, Erick Green, a solar program instructor, and Steven Hall, a painting instructor, from the Gainesville Job Corps Center took a group of 20 carpenter and painting students to participate in the demolition and construction of a new home for the Prewitt family in Middleburg, Fla. "The students expressed multiple times how good it felt to be giving back after receiving so much from the Gainesville Job Corps," said Green. "They found the work very satisfying and rewarding and the crew from Extreme Makeover were very proud of the students' work." You can tune in and watch the program which is scheduled to air on ABC Sunday, May 8 at 8 p.m. EST.

Sound Retirement Advice

How confident can you be that the financial adviser offering you guidance on your company 401(k) plan is acting in your best interest? "Not as confident as you should be," said Assistant Secretary Phyllis Borzi when asked that question Saturday by financial adviser Ric Edelman on his nationally syndicated radio program. As Borzi explained, financial advisers who are paid by you and your employer to provide guidance on your 401(k) plan can also receive additional compensation from financial services companies when they steer you to invest in those companies' funds. That additional compensation can motivate the guidance an adviser provides. But a proposal from her agency, the Employee Benefits Security Administration, would classify investment advisers as fiduciaries which would mean they could only act in your interest, and not in their own. It would also make them accountable for their advice. As Borzi explained, when advisers are made to "stand behind their work," employees can have confidence that the information they receive is what they need to make their nest egg grow.

First Annual Philly FED Day

Federal Day in Philadelphia attracted many job-seeking youths. View Slideshow for more photos.

In honor of Public Service Recognition Week and the 50th anniversary of the Philadelphia Federal Executive Board, the Philadelphia FEB hosted the first Philly FED Day event on May 3. Several Department of Labor offices participated in the agency showcase, and the Voices of DOL choir performed for the nearly 350 attendees. "Our message today is simple. Contrary to popular belief, feds have passion and purpose, feds bring value, and feds are vital members of the community," said Leni Uddyback-Fortson, regional administrator of the department's Office of Public Affairs and chair of the FEB.

Driving Change Conference

Participants in the Driving Change: Greening the Automotive Workforce conference held this week in Dearborn, Michigan, had the opportunity to hear from industry executives, researchers and policy leaders on the impact emerging green technologies are having in Indiana, Michigan and Ohio. The conference and accompanying research report were products of a department grant led by the state Labor Market Information Offices in Indiana (the Indiana Department of Workforce Development), Michigan and Ohio in collaboration with the Indiana Business Research Center, the Center for Automotive Research and Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University. Jane Oates, assistant secretary for the Employment and Training Administration participated in the conference remotely via webcam and encouraged attendees to "keep the momentum going, to use gatherings like this to boost research, highlight what works, fix what doesn't, and move forward with creativity and passion." The nearly 200 workforce professionals attending also visited local factories to see high-growth jobs in action.

Best for Hourly Workers

Carol Evans, President of Working Mother Media (next to Secretary Solis), and staff of Working Mother Magazine, before the award ceremony. View the slideshow for more photos.

Tuition assistance. Free onsite childcare. Health care coverage. Free gym membership. These are on the wish list of almost every employee. For some full-time, salaried workers, these wishes are reality — and the companies that provide them were honored in Washington earlier this week. Working Mother Media, publisher of Working Mother Magazine, hosted an awards luncheon for the Twelve Best Companies for Hourly Employees. In her keynote speech at the event, Secretary Solis underscored the importance of employers supporting and providing opportunities for hourly workers and stressed that companies must meet the needs of all employees. "These terrific companies are changing the course of our history and leading by example," she said, citing the wages, access to education and flexible schedules the companies provide. Reflecting on her own mother's experiences as an hourly worker, Solis added that "every working mom should have the tools she needs to be successful."

Flexibility for Military Families

Members of the panel shared their experiences about family issues. From left: Alex Deshuk, Charles McLaurin; Adam Reich; Anne Palmer; and Dr. Sarah Tracy. View the slide show for more photos and information.

Employers today are familiar with the needs of working families who experience the birth of a child, the serious illness of a parent, or a temporary disability that requires workplace flexibility. But when an employee is suddenly deployed overseas, the need for workplace flexibility skyrockets – and has widespread implications for the service member, their spouse and extended family members. That was the topic of the Women's Bureau's latest Statewide Dialogue on Workplace Flexibility in Phoenix, Arizona. Last month, business representatives, military leaders, veterans, law students and advocates shared experiences with military service and workplace flexibility at the Arizona State University downtown Phoenix campus. The discussion highlighted trends, best practices and resources to help businesses understand military families' unique needs.

Strategies for Inclusion

Secretary Solis, with Telemundo's Jose Diza Balart, at the symposium. Click on the image for a larger photo.

Some of the nation's most influential Hispanic leaders, government officials, and Fortune 500 executives gathered on Monday in Washington, D.C., to discuss and identify strategies for achieving greater inclusion and participation of Latinos in the areas of employment, procurement, philanthropy and government. Secretary Solis was in attendance and highlighted some of the accomplishments and goals to develop a workforce that reflects the diversity of America. The event was hosted by the Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility and was moderated by Telemundo's Jose Diaz-Balart.

EBSA Speaks to the AICPA

ID PERSON's image fill the the big screen as he addressed the crowd at AICPA. View the slideshow for more images and information.

When 1,500 CPA employee benefit professionals convened in Las Vegas last week for the AICPA's National Conference on Employee Benefit Plans 2011, they were greeted by a full complement of current and former Employee Benefits Security Administration professionals including Deputy Assistant Secretary Michael L. Davis. Keynote speaker, former Pension Welfare Benefits Association Assistant Secretary David Walker, kicked off the meeting with his "Come Back America" presentation detailing the economic facts leading up to the current national deficit and identifying cultural shifts occurring in America. Davis provided an update on pending and completed policy work including the Affordable Care Act, the new fiduciary definition, investment alerts to plan sponsors and the department's interest in empowering plan sponsors to make better investment decisions. EBSA outreach professionals concluded the meeting with their "Ask the Government" session providing an open forum for attendees to ask questions.

Polaski Talks Child Exploitation

Sandra Polaski, Deputy Undersecretary for Bureau of International Labor Affairs (third from left), listens to questions from participants at the Council on Foreign Relations roundtable.

Deputy Undersecretary of the Bureau of International Labor Affairs Sandra Polaski was the featured speaker during the Council on Foreign Relations roundtable this week. The group convened to discuss the right of children to be free from labor exploitation. "The problem is complex and entrenched, but there is greater awareness than ever before. Even in remote parts of the world, people are becoming educated on international standards and the importance of educational opportunity for children," said Polaski. The Labor Department provides funding for programs that provide technical assistance to governments, expand global awareness of child labor and its impact, provide education and other services to children, and help break the cycle of child labor and poverty. The roundtable, held in Washington, D.C., included approximately two dozen representatives of the child labor advocacy and anti-trafficking in persons communities.

Main Explores New Technology

MSHA Assistant Secretary Joe Main, right, and Charlie Thomas, Deputy Administrator for Coal Mine Safety and Health, don their self-contained self-rescuers in preparation for their trip underground. Click on image for larger photo.

Mine Safety and Health Administration Assistant Secretary Joe Main travelled west this week, meeting with labor, union and company officials of the BHP Billiton San Juan underground coal mine near Farmington, N.M. The longwall operation, which employs more than 550 people, demonstrated a wide range of technological advancements the operation has embraced. Company officials showed off its tracking and communication system, lifelines and state-of-the art automatic fill stations for compressed air breathing apparatuses, which are at a miner's disposal in the event of an emergency. Main was impressed with what he saw. "This state-of-the-art system enables miners to recharge their self-contained self rescuers underground, rather than having to replace them each time they run short of oxygen," he said. "BHP Billiton has demonstrated its willingness to exploit technology to improve safety and health conditions at its mining operations." Earlier in the day, Main delivered remarks at the 2011 New Mexico Mine Health and Safety Conference in Socorro and met with MSHA staff at its office in Farmington.

Supporting First Responders

Secretary Solis addresses the attendees of the breakfast. View Slideshow for more photos.

The Faith & Politics Institute’s St. Joseph’s Breakfast was the first stop on Secretary Solis’ event-filled Thursday. This year the Institute honored all responders of 9/11. “I was a freshman Congresswoman on 9/11. I had served in the House for less than nine months. But I'll never forget how the Capitol police helped us feel safe,” said Solis in tribute to the first responders whom she depended on during the aftermath of that tragic day. “We must never forget that they made the ultimate sacrifice on 9/11.” Members of the Capitol Police and Firefighter Salfelder, IAFF Local 2141, were honored for their assistance at the Pentagon on 9/11.

Museum to Honor Latino Americans

Labor Secretary Hilda L. Solis, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Emilio Estefan, and Eva Langoria. View Slideshow for more photos.

Actress Eva Langoria, music producer Emilio Estefan and Secretary Solis are among supporters of a national museum to honor the history and significant contributions of Latino Americans in the United States. "I am proud to endorse the Commission's recommendation to build a Smithsonian American Latino Museum on the National Mall," said Solis to a crowd of supporters and reporters on Capitol Hill this Thursday. She added, "The question is not whether it's time for a museum honoring the accomplishments of the American Latino, the question is: Can we find a space big enough to hold it?" Langoria and Estefan are members of the National Museum of the American Latino Commission, a congressionally established group that unveiled their recommendations to President Barack Obama and to the Congress.

DOL, UCLA Joins Forces for Workers

Organizers and attendees of the event. Click on photo for detailed caption.

Secretary Solis' regional representative in Los Angeles, Alicia Villarreal, joined with representatives from the Teamsters, Cal-OSHA, the UCLA Labor Occupational Safety and Health program, and others from the UCLA Labor Center and Carwash Campaign in a Workers' Memorial Day forum held at UCLA on April 28. Approximately 200 UCLA faculty and students attended the forum.

Upcoming Deadlines & Events

Check out the grant opportunities with DOL.

Info For Asian Workers

Information on worker protections for the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities will be available from federal, state and local governmental and community organizations at a day-long event at the San Francisco Public Library's main branch on Tuesday, May 10. OFCCP Director Pat Shiu, who is a member of the Interagency Working Group of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, will be the keynote speaker.

EBSA — HIPAA and Other Health Benefits Laws: Compliance Assistance Seminar

EBSA — Understanding Your Fiduciary Responsibilities Under ERISA Workshop

MSHA — Southern Regional Mine Rescue Contest

MSHA — Spring Thaw Workshop

OFCCP — Bay Area Affirmative Action Conference on Employment

OFCCP — Bridging the Gap of Veteran Employment

OFCCP — Building Partnerships for the Community

OFCCP — Community Outreach and Education Event

OFCCP — Compliance Assistance Seminar

OFCCP — Compliance Assistance Seminar (Trustee Workshop)

OFCCP — Compliance Assistance Seminar for Construction Contractors

OFCCP — Compliance Assistance Seminar for Supply & Service Contractors

OFCCP — Information Session with Faith Based Organizations

OFCCP — Industry Liaison Group Meeting

OFCCP — Responsibilities and Resources Forum – Supply & Service/Construction Contractors

OLMS — Compliance Assistance Seminar

OSHA — Asian American and Pacific Islander Worker Protection Summit

OSHA — Combustible Dust Expert Forum

WHD — Prevailing Wage Conference 2011

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What's Hot

Women, Work and the Recovery

Women's Employment During the Recovery

In 2010, women represented 46.7 percent of the United States labor force. In fact, last year, almost 72 million women across the nation were either employed or looking for work. On Wednesday, Secretary Solis released DOL's latest report in a series that provides important insights on the current U.S. labor force. "Women's Employment During the Recovery" highlights key data about female workers in America. And, as the Secretary put it during a call that included almost 500 stakeholders and some of her department's own working mothers – DOL's Chief Economist, Betsey Stevenson and DOL's Women's Bureau Director, Sara Manzano-Diaz – "the report provides important information about DOL's focus areas and what we are doing to support and train women for success in the 21st century. It will also help guide DOL's work in the years to come."

Solis Announces H-1B Technical Skills Grant Competition

Secretary Solis announced this week via a teleconference call with stakeholders and reporters, the availability of approximately $240 million through the H-1B technical skills training grant competition. The projects to be funded will help workers update current skills or acquire new ones so they can enter career pathways leading to higher-paying jobs. "The grants will create important opportunities for those who may still be searching for work after many months of unemployment," said Solis. "As they seek out new careers in promising industries, our nation's workers need and deserve access to quality training and employment services. The H-1B technical skills grant competition will help make that possible."

DOL Assisting Southern States Recovering from Severe Storms

The department's Employment and Training Administration is working closely with its state partners to make sure the workers who became unemployed due to the storms can quickly receive Disaster Unemployment Assistance, which becomes a major source of income in areas where storms have destroyed and disrupted businesses. A $10 million National Emergency Grant has been provided to the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs to create temporary jobs to assist in recovery efforts. "The scenes of devastation in the South are heartbreaking," said Secretary Solis. "I am pleased that my department has the opportunity to continue supporting coordinated efforts at the federal, state and local levels to quickly clean up and repair the affected communities." And immediately after severe storms tore a path of destruction through southern states last week, the department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration began assisting communities in recovering from the devastation. In Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi, where OSHA has enforcement responsibilities, teams began visiting impacted areas to provide information and technical assistance to ensure the safety and health of responders to this tragedy. OSHA Regional Administrator Cindy Coe put out the word that "Emergency response should not put you in the hospital emergency room. Storm recovery work encompasses a wide range of safety and health hazards, which can be minimized by knowledge, safe work practices and personal protective equipment."

Around DOL

1968 Memphis Sanitation Workers Inducted In Hall of Fame

Secretary Solis and other VIPs at the induction ceremony for the 1968 Memphis sanitation workers' strike. View the slideshow for more images and information.

More than 300 civil rights leaders, union and civic leaders, family members and guests gathered at the DOL Great Hall last Friday to attend the historic induction of the 1,300 workers who participated in the 1968 Memphis sanitation strike into the Labor Hall of Fame. Honored and recognized for their important work, Secretary Solis stated in her opening remarks, "Today, these men join a group of trailblazers that include heroes like Cesar Chavez, Frances Perkins, Mother Jones, Samuel Gompers, and A. Philip Randolph. We have famous men and women in our Hall of Fame. But by honoring this group of rank-and-file workers for taking collective action, we reaffirm that it takes many kinds of leaders to shape history." Last week's event was the first of a two-part ceremony to honor the workers for inspiring the labor movement and the civil rights movement. The second event will take place on June 4th in Memphis, where the men made history 43 years ago. If you know workers or family members who were part of the 1968 Memphis sanitation workers strike, please e-mail

Celebrating Safety

OSHA staff and executives along with participants of the poster contest. View the slideshow for more photos.

The 7th annual North American Occupational Safety and Health Week was launched with an event at the Labor Department on Monday. Occupational Safety and Health Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels was joined by the American Society of Safety Engineers' President Darryl Hill, and Canadian Society of Safety Engineering's Secretary Andrew Cooper before a crowd of 150 in the DOL Auditorium. This year's NAOSH Week, which runs May 1-7, was once again co-sponsored by ASSE and CSSE, and focuses on the importance of preventing injuries and illnesses in the workplace. The kick-off event also featured interviews with the ASSE Kids "Safety on the Job" Poster Contest winners. The theme of the 2011 NAOSH Week "Celebrating a Century of Safety," commemorates the 100th anniversary of ASSE.

Secretary Signs MOU with HACU

The enthusiasm after signing the MOU was tangible. View the slideshow for more information and captions.

In commemoration of Cinco de Mayo, Secretary Solis hosted a conversation at the department's headquarters on the importance of creating career pathways and building pipelines to post-secondary education for Latino adult learners. Dr. Gabriela Lemus, director of the department's Office of Public Engagement, moderated the panel discussion, which included leaders from government, educational institutions, non-profit organizations and corporations. The event concluded with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Department of Labor and the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities which formalized a cooperative relationship to increase participation of Hispanic Americans in DOL-sponsored programs and opportunities.

Mayors, Jamba Juice Make Commitments to Summer Jobs

Photo montage of teens ready for work: Summer Jobs USA. Make the Commitment.

Secretary Solis partnered with the U.S. Conference of Mayors on Thursday to continue her ongoing effort to promote the discussion on the importance of summer job opportunities for America's young people. During a phone call with reporters and stakeholders, she was joined by the President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors and Mayor of Burnsville, Minnesota, Elizabeth Kautz; Boston Mayor Tom Menino; and Fresno, California Mayor Ashley Swearengin. Bruce Schroder, President of Store Operations for Jamba Juice was also on hand, and announced his company's commitment to hiring at least 2,500 young people this summer.

News You Can Use

OSHA Protects Shipyard Workers

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration released a final rule that better protects the safety and health of shipyard workers. The rule, published in the Federal Register on May 2, updates existing requirements to reflect advances in industry practices and technology, and provides new protections from hazards that previously were not addressed — including the control of hazardous energy. It is expected to prevent about 350 serious injuries each year. "This final rule is the result of collaboration between OSHA and the maritime industry," said Assistant Secretary for OSHA Dr. David Michaels. "Shipyard work is dangerous. We have crafted a rule that protects workers while balancing employer concerns regarding implementation."

Calling All Photographers: Get a Picture of Safety!

Contest logo

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is announcing a nationwide photography contest – Picture It! Safe Workplaces for Everyone. OSHA challenges anyone with a passion for photography to capture an image of workplace safety and health and share it with the department. The contest, which is part of OSHA's year-long 40th anniversary celebration, is open to shutterbugs aged 18 or older. It runs through July 29.

Comment Period Extended on Proposal to Lower Coal Dust Exposure

The comment period on the proposed rule "Lowering Miners' Exposure to Respirable Coal Mine Dust, Including Continuous Personal Dust Monitors" has been extended by the Mine Safety and Health Administration in response to a number of requests from interested parties. Comments may be submitted to MSHA until May 31, 2011. "Our goal to end black lung is a long-standing one and was one of the commitments I made when I came to MSHA," said agency head Joe Main. "The additional time hopefully will give everyone who wants to comment the opportunity to do so."

Schedule of Public Hearings on Proposed Rules

The Mine Safety and Health Administration will hold four public hearings on two proposed rules: "Examinations of Work Areas in Underground Coal Mines" and "Pattern of Violations." The hearings are scheduled for June 2 in Denver, Colo.; June 7 in Charleston, W.Va.; June 9 in Birmingham, Ala.; and June 15 in Arlington, Va. "Both of these proposed rules seek to offer further protections for our nation's miners — through complete workplace examinations aimed at eliminating conditions that can result in injury, illness or death, and through more effective means for identifying problem mines and encouraging them to improve their safety records," said MSHA Assistant Secretary Joe Main.

DOL Working for You

Brothers Hit Pay Dirt through ETA Funded Energy Program

Kurtis Fish (left) Ronald Severin. Click on photo for more info and larger image.

When Ronald Severin, 24, and his brother Kurtis Fish, 21, lost their sheet metal jobs in Nevada, they ventured east and enrolled in a natural gas industry "roustabout" training program funded by the Employment and Training Administration. The courses at Westmoreland County Community College, in Youngwood, Pa., taught them natural gas well drilling techniques, drill rig set up and dismantling, and forklift and backhoe operations. The physically demanding work suited the brothers, who graduated at the top of their class. A local energy company hired them both to work on the large Marcellus Shale natural gas formation in Pennsylvania. The brothers can earn up to $80,000 each per year. Severin said that thanks to the training program, he and his brother were "given an advantage to compete for jobs in an industry that has a lot of room for advancement."

Navy Veteran Lands Green Job Through DOL Funding

Karl Mier. Click on image for larger photo.

After losing his supervisor position with a medical equipment company, Navy veteran Karl Mier looked for an occupation with a future. He found it in recycling thanks to a Veterans Go! Green training program funded by the department through St. Patrick Center in St. Louis, Mo. Mier, 48, said the course taught him about waste management techniques, recycling options, materials collection processes and health and safety practices. The program also set him up with interested employers. In about two months, Mier was hired by a local company to work on the production line recycling textiles into stuffing. The training program "gave me the opportunity to see the green industry up close" and "pursue employment in an up and coming industry," said Mier.

DOL in Action

$2.9 Million for Employees of Stanley Associates and Subcontractors

The department has recovered $2.9 million in back wages for more than 500 employees of Stanley Associates Inc. and several subcontractors at various locations in St. Albans and Essex Junction, Vt. A Wage and Hour Division investigation found that the employers had improperly classified workers, resulting in workers being paid less than the prevailing wage rates guaranteed under the terms of the federally-funded contract and many were denied proper overtime compensation in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act. "The Labor Department is committed to ensuring that taxpayer dollars are being used properly and workers on publicly funded projects are paid their full wages," said Secretary Solis. "I am pleased that these workers will be appropriately compensated for the work they performed for Stanley Associates and its subcontractors."

Financial Services Company to Restore $243,000 to Pension Plans

Charlotte, N.C.-based financial services company Wall Street Capitol and its president, Richard Siskey, have agreed to restore $242,975.78 to two retirement profit sharing plans as part of a settlement agreement with the Employee Benefits Security Administration. "Employees in retirement plans expect a plan's fiduciaries to safeguard their assets, and when this trust is violated, the fiduciaries must be held accountable for their actions," said Isabel Colon, acting regional director for EBSA in Atlanta, Ga.

Kentucky Workers Get More Than $114,000 in Back Wages

The Labor Department's Wage and Hour Division has obtained a settlement agreement with Bluegrass Hospitality Group LLC and related companies requiring them to pay $114,756 in back wages to 43 employees. The agreement comes after allegations by the WHD of violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act's overtime pay and record-keeping provisions. "Restaurant owners and operators are responsible for ensuring that their workers are properly compensated for all hours of their hard work," said Karen Garnett, director for the WHD District Office in Louisville. "The department takes seriously its responsibility to enforce the FLSA on behalf of vulnerable workers."

12 Restaurant Workers Sharing $245,500 in Back Wages

Monte Alban Mexican Restaurant in Andrews, N.C., is paying $245,500 in back wages to 12 employees after an investigation by the Wage and Hour Division found that the business failed to pay them minimum wage and overtime compensation and falsified time sheets submitted to investigators. "The Labor Department is working hard to ensure that employees are properly paid for the hours they work according to the law," said Richard Blaylock, the WHD's district director in Raleigh. "We will not allow companies to profit by not paying their workers, and ignoring the Fair Labor Standards Act rules on minimum wage and overtime compensation."

OSHA Fines Parker Hannifin for Repeat, Serious Violations

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued Parker Hannifin Corp. in Batesville, Miss., 16 repeat and 17 serious citations for safety and health violations and proposed $487,700 in penalties. The violations concerned a variety of hazards, including machine guarding, electrical deficiencies and struck-by hazards as a result of an inspection in November 2010. "Companies that cut corners at the expense of worker safety must be held accountable," said OSHA Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels. "In this case, Parker Hannifin not only failed to make safety its top priority, but the company ignored many violations that OSHA previously had brought to its attention."

Nearly $241,000 in Back Wages for Florida Construction Workers

The Wage and Hour Division has recovered $240,987 in back wages for 33 electricians employed by now-defunct Deco Electrical Contractors Inc., on a HUD-funded project in Hialeah, Fla. WHD found that the employees, who were subject to provisions of the Davis-Bacon and Related Acts, had been misclassified as lesser-paid laborers and denied proper compensation for all hours worked. "When contractors bid on a federally funded project, they agree to pay the prevailing wages as listed in the contract's Davis-Bacon wage determination," said Will Garnitz, director of the WHD Miami District Office. "This case demonstrates that the Labor Department will use every tool available to ensure those working on federally funded projects receive their proper wages."

OSHA Cites Ohio Company After Worker's Finger is Amputated

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Compco Industries Inc., a metal stamping company in Columbiana, Ohio, with 24 safety violations after a worker had his finger amputated by a mechanical power press last August. The company faces penalties totaling $158,900. "Compco Industries unduly put this worker at risk by failing to have adequate machine guarding, resulting in a very serious injury," said Howard Eberts, OSHA's area director in Cleveland.

Assisted Living Facility Cited After Needle Stick Injury

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Paradise Park Assisted Living LLC in Lake Zurich, Ill., with 17 safety and health violations after a nurse practitioner allegedly was injured in a November 2010 needle stick incident. The facility faces penalties totaling $72,000. "Employers are responsible for knowing the health and safety hazards that apply to their facilities, and for taking necessary precautions by following OSHA standards and providing workers with the proper training," said Diane Turek, OSHA's Chicago North Area Office director in Des Plaines. Violations include failing to fully implement and annually train employees on the OSHA Bloodborne Pathogens Standard, including post-exposure evaluation and follow-up emergency procedures.

140 Workers with Disabilities to Receive Back Wages

Gatesway Foundation Inc. in Broken Arrow, Okla., has agreed to pay 140 workers with disabilities $146,771 in back wages after an investigation by the department's Wage and Hour Division disclosed that the company violated the Fair Labor Standards Act's special minimum wage rates and recordkeeping provisions. "The Labor Department is committed to ensuring that vulnerable populations are protected from exploitation," said Cynthia Watson, regional administrator for the WHD in the Southwest.

Aguado Stone in Georgetown, Texas, Agrees to Pay Back Wages

Georgetown-based Aguado Stone Inc., a leading stone supplier in central Texas, has agreed to pay back wages to 108 current and former quarry workers after an investigation by the department's Wage and Hour Division found Fair Labor Standards Act violations. The company failed to pay employees time and one-half their regular rates of pay for hours worked over 40 in a week and maintain the required recordkeeping. "Aguado Stone failed to pay proper overtime compensation to its employees, many of whom do not speak English and who were working up to 100 hours in a week. That practice is illegal, and we will not tolerate it," said Cynthia Watson, regional administrator for the Wage and Hour Division in the Southwest.

Continued Assistance for Oregon Workers

A $279,373 National Emergency Grant increment was provided this week to continue re-employment and training services to about 280 workers affected by layoffs at the Cessna Aircraft Co. facility located in Bend, Ore. "This administration is committed to getting all Americans back to work," said Secretary Solis. "I am pleased that this funding will ensure workers who lost their jobs through no fault of their own can continue to receive training and other related services, which will help them in broadening their skill sets and securing employment in some of Oregon's promising industries."

Assistance for Wisconsin Workers Affected by Paper Mill Layoffs

DOL provided a $918,702 grant for training and job search services to about 175 workers affected by the closure of the NewPage Corp. paper mill in Stevens Point, Wis. "The decline of Wisconsin's paper manufacturing industry over the past few years has taken a toll on this community," said Secretary Solis. "I am glad that my department can assist these former paper mill workers by providing the means for them to prepare for and find employment in Wisconsin's growing industries, such as food manufacturing and health care."

Multi-Agency Grant Competition to Support Regional Innovation

The Obama administration has announced the launch of "The Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge." The competition leverages existing financial and technical assistance resources from 16 federal agencies and bureaus to support the development of approximately 20 high-growth industry clusters to be selected through a competitive inter-agency grant process. The Challenge offers a combination of $33 million in funding and technical assistance resources to support customized solutions for approximately 20 competitively selected industry clusters in urban and rural regions across the nation and across all sectors. Funds awarded to the winning applicants can be used to support a range of outcomes including innovation, commercialization, business formation and expansion, job creation, development of a skilled workforce, increasing exports, inclusive economic development and global competitiveness.

Massey Energy-owned Coal Mine Exhibits "Outrageous" Behavior

A subsidiary of Massey Energy, Inman Energy's Randolph Mine in Boone County, W.Va., received numerous violations following a special impact inspection last month. Federal inspectors issued 20 withdrawal orders and five citations on April 29, when six federal inspectors arrived during the afternoon shift and confiscated the phones to prevent advance notification of their presence. They observed a number of serious conditions, including a buildup of loose coal, which exposes miners to debilitating respirable dust hazards and the threat of an explosion. Mine Safety and Health Administration's Joe Main minced no words: "The conduct and behavior exhibited when we caught the mine operator by surprise is nothing short of outrageous. Despite the tragedy at Upper Big Branch last year, and all our efforts to bring mine operators into compliance, some still aren't getting it. The conditions observed at Randolph Mine place miners at serious risk – to the threat of fire, explosion and black lung."

Tampa Restaurant Pays More Than $54,000 to 14 Low-wage Workers

A Wage and Hour Division investigation has resulted in Sushi Alive, a Tampa-based sushi restaurant, agreeing to pay $54,407 in minimum wage and overtime back wages to 14 restaurant employees. The investigation was conducted by the division's Tampa District Office as part of its enforcement initiative to increase Fair Labor Standards Act compliance within the Hillsborough County restaurant industry. "Many restaurants in the area continue to violate basic wage laws, resulting in low-wage workers being deprived of their hard-earned pay," said James Schmidt, district director of the WHD in Tampa. "This case is an example of the DOL's commitment to protecting vulnerable workers against exploitation and ensuring that law-abiding employers are not placed at a competitive disadvantage."

Grants for ‘Persistently Dangerous' Schools to Benefit Students

The department provided a continuation of grants amounting to more than $17.3 million for a third round of funding to nine schools in three public school districts that have been identified as "persistently dangerous" due to high levels of disruption and violence. Baltimore, Md.; New York State's Berkshire Union Free School District and Philadelphia, Pa., initially were granted funds in 2007. With a second round of funding awarded in 2009, selected schools continue to make progress through steady improvements in 9th grade attendance levels, 9th to 10th grade promotion rates and reduced suspension rates. "I am proud to announce continued support that not only will help create safer school environments for students, but also increase their educational opportunities and give them a better chance to do well in their future workplaces," said Secretary Solis.

Continued Funding to Support Young Offenders

A third year of funding for four Young Offender State and Local Implementation grants and one Young Offender Intermediary grant was provided by DOL in the amount of $17.2 million. The state and local programs will continue to provide training, employment and supportive services to youth who have been involved in the juvenile justice system. "Today the Labor Department continues our commitment to supporting young ex-offenders by helping them develop the skills they need to gain employment," said Secretary Solis. "The programs funded by these grants provide vital opportunities for young former offenders who want to get on a path to success."

Grand Jury Indicts Donut Shop Owner Who Failed to Pay Overtime

A federal grand jury in Phoenix has indicted the owner of a local donut shop in Yuma, Ariz., on 10 counts, including promising to pay, but then withholding back wages. The owner of Arizona Donut and Café, Tong-Seng Luy, aka Jerry Luy, was indicted for concealment by trick and making false statements to the U.S. Department of Labor, as well as the willful failure to pay overtime. Investigators allege that Luy continued to employ cook/cashiers in excess of 40 hours per week without paying overtime wages, then prepared additional payroll checks and demanded that his employees endorse them. Luy re-deposited those checks back into his own account and then sent copies of the fronts of the checks to the department as proof of payment.

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