DOL in Action
$32 Million Returned to Tribune Employee Stock Ownership Plan
The Employee Benefits Security Administration has announced that Tribune Co., GreatBanc Trust Co. and various insurance carriers have completed funding of a global settlement in the amount of $32 million to be allocated among the Tribune Employee Stock Ownership Plan's participants, and to pay for legal and administrative expenses. The settlement is with, among others, the department and the plaintiffs in a private class action lawsuit, and resolves the department's claims of violations of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act. "The settlement ensures that the Tribune Employee Stock Ownership Plan's participants and beneficiaries will be able to receive the benefits that are rightfully theirs," said Secretary Solis. "I am pleased that participants' hard earned retirement savings have been returned."
Improving the Quality of Workforce Data
This week, Secretary Solis announced the availability of $12 million for grants through the Workforce Data Quality Initiative, which will enable states to build or expand longitudinal databases that link workforce and education data to improve understanding about the performance of workforce development programs. "The grants awarded through this initiative will result in high-quality, long term data that will provide consumers, practitioners and policymakers with comprehensive information about the relationship between education and workforce development programs," she said.
List Industries Cited for Repeat and Serious Violations
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has proposed $56,000 in penalties against List Industries Inc. after an inspection of its Deerfield Beach, Fla., manufacturing plant found amputation hazards that previously had been cited during OSHA inspections in 2007 and 2009.
Jeffboat Cited After Worker Fatality at Barge Manufacturing Facility
Jeffboat LLC has been cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for nine safety including one willful violations at its Jeffersonville, Ind., facility after a worker was fatally crushed when he became trapped between a malfunctioning transfer car and a barge. Proposed fines total $119,000.
Lawsuits Filed Against Farmer, Contractors in South Florida
The Labor Department is suing farm labor contractors and a South Florida grower over alleged violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act that occurred during the 2011 green beans harvest in Miami-Dade County. The department is asking that Fisteac Farm Labor Inc., Joseph Fisteac, Ledford Farms and Troy Ledford pay workers three years of back wages and an equal amount of liquidated damages.
Employees Exposed to Electrical Hazards in San Antonio
Fresh From Texas has been cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration with eight serious violations for exposing workers to numerous electrical hazards at the company's facility in San Antonio, including failing to ensure that workers were provided with adequate working space around electrical equipment, to ensure that the working space was not used for storage and not properly covering electrical equipment such as condenser units. Proposed penalties total $40,500.
New York Union President Sentenced for Embezzlement
Guy Masocco, former president of Steelworkers Local 897 in Cheektowaga, N.Y., was sentenced to 10 months of home confinement and three years of probation, and ordered to pay $31,701 in restitution after pleading guilty in August 2011 to embezzling from his union. An Office of Labor-Management Standards investigation found that, from December 2004 to November 2009, Masocco used his union credit card for personal expenses and submitted false claims to the union for reimbursement of wages he said he lost while conducting union business.
2 Workers Suffer Finger Amputations in Mount Enterprise, Texas
Mount Enterprise, Texas-based J.P. Spivey Supply has been cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for one willful and 13 serious safety and health violations after two workers had fingers amputated from coming into contact with a moving saw blade while cutting material. Proposed penalties total $57,200.
Defunct Company Ordered to Restore $661K to Retirement Plan
Compass Capital Partners Ltd. and owner Harris M. DeWese have been ordered to restore $661,206 to the defunct West Chester, Pa., company's retirement plan under a summary judgment obtained by the department. An investigation by the Employee Benefits Security Administration found that DeWese withdrew funds from the plan eight times from October 2006 to October 2007 and deposited them in his personal account and a Compass Capital Partners bank account. "These actions show a flagrant breach of fiduciary responsibility," said Phyllis C. Borzi, assistant secretary of labor for employee benefits security.
2 Florida Companies Cited After Explosion at Gas Station
Coomes Oil & Supply Inc. and Florida Rock & Tank Lines Inc. have been cited by the
Occupational Safety and Health Administration for safety hazards after an employee of the latter company was burned in an explosion at the 5th Wheel gasoline station in St. Augustine, Fla. Proposed penalties to both companies total $77,000.
Companies Cited After Complaint Filed on Behalf of Foreign Students
After responding to a complaint on behalf of foreign students hired under the U.S. Department of State's J-1 visa program, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued citations totaling nearly $290,000. Exel Inc., which manages a Palmyra, Pa., facility for the Hershey Co., was issued nine citations for record keeping violations, and one for failure to develop and implement an effective hearing conservation program. SHS Group LP, a temporary staffing provider at the facility, was issued one citation for its failure to provide training on lockout/tagout of energy sources to employees.
Trinidad Drilling Cited for Exposing Workers to Fall, Electrical Hazards
Trinidad Drilling has been cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for exposing workers to falls and electrical hazards at the company's worksite at Well No. 1H, Phantom Wolfcamp, northwest of Barstow, Texas. Proposed penalties total $79,805.
Precision Drilling Cited for Exposing Workers to Safety Hazards
Precision Drilling Co. L.P. has been cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration with serious and repeat safety violations following an inspection of the company's work site northeast of Pecos, Texas. The serious violations are failing to ensure portable fire extinguishers were kept in their designated places and to remove or repair damaged electrical cords. Proposed penalties total $69,300.
Assistance for Minnesota Workers Impacted by Flooding
A $477,065 National Emergency Grant will provide continued temporary employment for eligible dislocated workers assisting with cleanup and recovery efforts made necessary by the severe storms and floods that hit southeastern Minnesota in 2010.
Summit Equipment & Supply Cited with 24 Safety Violations
Summit Equipment & Supply has been cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration with 24 safety violations for failing to provide adequate guards on machinery and train workers in proper safety procedures at its Akron, Ohio, facility, among other hazards. OSHA opened the investigation on Aug. 25, 2011, after receiving a complaint alleging unsafe working conditions. Proposed fines total $56,400.
Basic Grain Products Cited After Worker Injured by Conveyor Belt
Basic Grain Products Inc. has been cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration with 13 safety violations for failing to ensure hazardous energy sources were secured, among other dangers. OSHA opened an inspection in September based on a complaint that a worker had suffered sprains, multiple lacerations and contusions as a result of having clothing become caught in a conveyor belt that had not been properly locked out prior to maintenance and cleaning activities. Proposed fines total $112,000.
Grants Announced to Train Workers in High-Skill, High-Demand Jobs
Traveling through Cincinnati, Ohio, to promote a Community College to Career bus tour, Secretary Solis announced more than $183 million in grants to provide education, training and job placement assistance for American workers in high-growth industries such as advanced manufacturing, energy, health care and information technology through the second round of the H-1B Technical Skills Training Grant Competition. The grants, funded through fees paid by employers to bring foreign workers into the United States under the H-1B program, are intended to prepare American workers for these jobs and to help businesses reduce their need to use the H-1B program.
Georgia Air Products Manufacturer Cited for Safety, Health Violations
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has proposed $53,300 in penalties against air distribution products manufacturer Price Industries Inc. after identifying 13 safety and health violations at the company's Suwanee, Ga., plant. OSHA's October inspection was initiated in response to a complaint.
Milk Specialties Cited with Willful, Other Violations After Fire at Facility
Milk Specialties Co. has been cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration with three safety violations, including one willful violation for combustible dust hazards. OSHA opened an inspection following a report of a fire resulting from a dust explosion in a machine at the company's Fond du Lac, Wis., facility. Proposed fines total $72,000.
Jones General Contracting Cited with Trenching Violations
Ten serious citations have been issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration against Jones General Contracting LLC, based in Woodbury, Ga., for violations found at a water line installation site. OSHA began an inspection in October after receiving a complaint about safety conditions in trenches being dug to install pipes. Proposed penalties total $40,200.
Louisiana's Department of Children and Family Services Violates FMLA
Louisiana's Department of Children and Family Services in Baton Rouge, La., has agreed to pay a former employee $36,599 following an investigation by the Wage and Hour Division that found violations of the Family and Medical Leave Act when the employee was terminated after missing work due to a serious health condition.
Amy Food Cited for Exposing Workers to Possible Amputations
Amy Food Inc. has been cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration with one willful, four serious and three other-than-serious citations for exposing workers to possible amputation hazards at the company's Houston facility. OSHA initiated a safety inspection following a complaint alleging that several employees had suffered near amputation incidents while operating machinery. Proposed penalties total $77,100.
Wisconsin Grain Co-op Cited for Failing to Protect Workers from Falls
Landmark Services Cooperative, a Wisconsin grain cooperative, has been cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration with one willful safety violation for failing to protect workers from falls while they were loading grain products into rail cars at the co-op's Evansville facility. Proposed fines total $70,000.