United States Department of Labor; Good jobs for everyone.

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May 17, 2012
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The NFL Stars in Jobs Corps PSAs

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

Ever since the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 created the Job Corps as part of President Lyndon Johnson's "Great Society" agenda, the program has helped turn around the lives of more than 2 million young people. While Sargent Shriver famously helped lead Job Corps at the start, it has taken many strong voices to help spread the word about this important

Former Pittsburgh Steeler Franco Harris extolls the benefits of Job Corps in the 1970s.
program. Enter National Football League stars Rosey Grier and Franco Harris, who each filmed public service announcements to help advertise the program after retiring from football. In these fine films now featured on the Centennial Vault playlist on the Department of Labor's YouTube channel, pay close attention to Grier's much discussed needlepoint skills as well as Harris' deft use of the Socratic method.

Solis Lauds Export Excellence

Secretary Solis addressed the convention. View the slideshow for more images and captions.

America's machinists have helped drive an explosion in U.S. exports that has put the country on pace to meet President Obama's goal to double the nation's exports in five years. Secretary Solis thanked members of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers for their work to spread the "Made in the USA" label globally at the union's 2012 legislative conference on May 15 in Washington, D.C. Solis, who sits on the President's Export Council, noted that one of the largest export growth areas is machinery and that manufacturing currently represents nearly 60 percent of total American exports. "You've shown you can be game-changers," Solis told the crowd. "We want to export products, not paychecks, so America can thrive in a globalized economy right now."

All About the Jobs in Arizona

Secretary Solis and Congressman Ed Pastor posed with Latino community leaders from Phoenix.. View the slideshow for more images and captions.

During a visit to Phoenix last week, Secretary Solis spoke with college students and recent graduates at Arizona State University eager to enter the workforce, yet concerned about the prospect of student loan rates rising later this summer. During the conversation, Solis talked about the importance of landing that first job, the sense of satisfaction that comes with getting your first paycheck, and making sure that advanced education remains accessible and affordable. Later in the day she visited the Cesar Chavez Foundation regional office to hear from Latino community leaders about local workforce issues and discuss Department of Labor programs available to help.

OFCCP Goes to the Chamber

Improving employment opportunities for workers with disabilities is a top priority for the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs. This was the message OFCCP Director Patricia A. Shiu took to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Employment Relations Committee at their meeting May 11. Shiu addressed specific issues raised by business leaders regarding the proposed rulemaking on Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act. She explained that the agency is committed to putting in place fair, practical and effective regulations that will help government contractors succeed by taking full advantage of the talents, skills and ingenuity of qualified workers with disabilities. "I believe that what gets measured, gets done," she told the audience. "If and when the new rule is implemented, I can assure you that we will be here, ready to provide you with the assistance you need to figure out how to comply with the law. After all, they didn't put 'Compliance Programs' in our name for nothing."

A Graduation Message

Secretary Solis delivered the commencement address at the graduation ceremony. View the slideshow for more images and captions.

"If I can do it, so can you." That's the message Secretary Solis gave to Estrella Mountain Community College graduates on May 11. The Arizona college held its commencement ceremony at Goodyear Baseball Park in Goodyear, Ariz., and is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. In just two decades, the college went from being an office in a strip mall to one of Arizona's finest institutions of higher education. Estrella Mountain prides itself on being a college of the community — providing education to students of all ages and every background. "You've built a culture of opportunity here." Solis said. "As someone who's here only because of the chances my education gave me, I couldn't be more proud. Congratulations."

Engaging the Next Generation

Attendees of the event at UT at San Antonio gather for a photo with Michael L. Davis, deputy assistant secretary of labor for EBSA. Click on the photo for a larger image and caption.

Go to an early morning event during finals week? For most college students cramming for exams, it's not something they're inclined to do. But when Michael L. Davis, the deputy assistant secretary of labor for the Employee Benefits Security Administration, arrived at the University of Texas at San Antonio recently, he found a sizable group of students ready to talk. Their robust discussion covered student loans, saving for retirement and how the Affordable Care Act had personally benefited the students and their families. "You had the student body president there and other talented individuals asking tough questions on very important subjects impacting them," said Davis. "It was really encouraging to see so many young people so engaged in their futures and on the issues of the day." The event was organized by the Latino Financial Issues Program in the College of Business, and by Lisa Firmin, formerly the highest ranking Latina in the U.S. Air Force and currently an associate provost at the college.

OFCCP Focuses on Veterans

L-R: Ronald W. Bailey, Jacqueline Singh, Margaret-Ann Ferraez, Mary Herron, Jacqueline Seldon, C.L. 'Tim' Williams, Jay White, Tiffany Phillips and Millie Herrera pose for a photo. View the slideshow for more images and captions.

The Memphis Area Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs for the second year held an "Increasing Employment Opportunities for Veterans and Individuals with Disabilities" community event in Millington, Tenn. The program included an educational presentation by OFCCP and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission concerning regulations, requirements and employer responsibilities and a panel discussion with government, military and community-based representatives. Local veteran and disability service providers discussed job-seeker resources and training opportunities. Veteran David Kendrick, who was wounded in Afghanistan, shared his compelling story about the barriers and biases veterans face when they return home and how he obtained training and employment through the AbilityOne Program.

For Grads, Balancing Act Pays Off

For the 1,200 students earning associate's degrees, certificates and diplomas at Forsyth Technical Community College in Winston-Salem, N.C., last week, the commencement speaker invoked the importance of balance in life and work. Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employment and Training Jane Oates reminded students that "to get here today, many of you balanced family life and multiple jobs in pursuit of your education. That sounds pretty exhausting, but as you enter the workforce, start your new career, or continue your education, that skill will serve you well." Forsyth is home to a number of innovative programs including the JobsNOW welding program, which used Recovery Act funds to train workers and put them to work in six month or less, as well as a new joint program between the college and the county school system, which gives students the opportunity to complete the requirements for a high school diploma and at the same time earn a two-year college degree tuition free.

Faith in Action in Charm City

In west Baltimore (from left) Rev. Al Hathaway of Union Baptist, Ben Seigel, and Rev. Dr. Arnold Howard of Enon Baptist Church. View the slideshow for more images and captions.

The Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships developed new connections, on both the national and local levels, in one trip to Baltimore last week. First, Deputy Director Ben Seigel addressed the American Federation of Teachers' Faith in Action conference downtown. Faith in Action builds relationships between interfaith leaders and AFT leadership and staff. Seigel discussed Labor Department grant programs, including those that serve at-risk youth, with about 70 faith leaders representing a range of communities and states, such as New Mexico, Ohio, and Michigan. Next, Seigel went to West Baltimore, where he met with leaders of the Community Churches for Community Development consortium at Union Baptist Church. The consortium is working with the City of Baltimore on neighborhood redevelopment and employment programs. They are interested in partnering with CFBNP's Job Clubs Initiative in their efforts to connect Baltimoreans to good jobs.

Showcasing Skills in Georgia

Representatives from OFCCP, WHD and Job Corps were in Albany, Ga.: (From left) Natelya Hale, Warren Williams II, Queena McGriggs, Johnnie Johnson, Gary Henley, and Manuel Zurita. Click on the image for a lager photo and detailed caption.

Government, federal contractors and nonprofit groups met at the Turner Job Corps Center in Albany, Ga., to provide information to the public on several topics, including hiring rules, employment rights and job training opportunities in south Georgia. Among those represented were the department's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, the Wage and Hour Division and Job Corps, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Georgia Department of Labor. The session ended with a tour of the Job Corps Center, where students showcased their skills to demonstrate for federal contractors the advantages of looking to the Job Corps as a source for recruitment of future employees.

Leppink on Human Trafficking

Wage and Hour Deputy Administrator Nancy Leppink delivers remarks at the Human Trafficking, Forced Labor and Corporate Responsibility Conference. Click on the photo for a larger image and caption.

Nancy Leppink, deputy administrator for the Wage and Hour Division, delivered the keynote address at the Human Trafficking, Forced Labor and Corporate Responsibility Conference presented by the University of Washington School of Law and Seattle University School of Law in collaboration with the UW Women's Center on May 11. The event brought together students, faculty, state legislators, attorneys, advocates, and judges to discuss issues ranging from human trafficking as a commercial issue to multi-agency and victim services collaboration. Leppink talked about the challenges Wage and Hour investigators face in the field while protecting workers from unscrupulous employers.

Hmong Outreach Event

Left to right: Eric Doré, Chue Chou Tchang, Terri Franklin, Nathaniel Jackson, Brad Anderson, Maiv Tong Phav, Xoua Pha, Carol Bayles, and Dannie Gore, Jr. View the slideshow for more images and captions.

The department's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs Minneapolis District Office recently participated in a Hmong outreach event with the Southeast Asian Community hosted by the Lao Family Community of Minnesota. The event was a continuation of OFCCP's collaborative efforts with the Hmong community to exchange ideas and strategies to enhance job opportunities and resources for community-based-organizations, veterans, and small businesses who are new or prospective federal contractors. Special focus was placed on promoting free technical assistance and other resources available through local OFCCP offices and the agency website.

Moving in the Right Direction

Dr. Reeve Vanneman, chairman of the Sociology Department at the UM, listens to Dr. Kugler. Click on the image for a larger photo and caption.

The direction of the economy and improvements in the labor market continues to be a hot topic around the country. As the Secretary of Labor's chief economist, Dr. Adriana Kugler has been active in speaking to stakeholder groups about how the labor market is changing and what we can expect in the coming months. This week, Kugler participated in a panel discussion at the American Enterprise Institute to discuss the relationship between economic uncertainty and unemployment. She then joined a roundtable on Women and the Economy organized by the Institute for Women's Policy Research, where she highlighted how women have fared during the recession and recovery. Her message to both audiences was that, overall, the economy is experiencing a strong and steady recovery, and women in particular have seen job gains in high paying industries. More work needs to be done to get people back to work faster, but the economy is moving in the right direction.

Safety Summit in Omaha

The National Safety Council's 29th Annual Safety and Health Summit in Omaha, Neb., featured a special presentation on education and enforcement from Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. Michaels emphasized OSHA's new campaign to prevent falls in construction as well as continued efforts to reduce grain entrapments prevalent in the regional grain industry. "One of OSHA's goals is to teach employers how to encourage workers participation in building a safer workplace," said Michaels. "Promoting occupational safety is both about law enforcement and cultivating awareness." As part of his visit to Omaha, Michaels toured a meatpacking plant, representative of another signature industry in the region.

Upcoming Deadlines & Events

Open Funding Opportunities

EBSA — Getting It Right...Know Your Fiduciary Responsibilities

EBSA — Health Benefits Coverage Under Federal Law Workshop

EBSA — Health Benefits Laws Compliance Assistance Seminar

EBSA — The Basics and More Workshop

EEOMBD — Program Outreach Meetings

OFCCP — Beyond the Written AAP

OFCCP — Building Community and Veteran Partnerships

OFCCP — Compliance Assistance for First Time Supply and Service Contractors

OFCCP — Construction Seminar

OFCCP — Developing Written Affirmative Action Programs

OFCCP — Community Based Education & Outreach

OFCCP — Compliance Assistance Seminar

OFCCP — Compliance Assistance Seminar for Construction Contractors

OFCCP — Get the Inside Scoop

OFCCP — How to Prepare Affirmative Action Programs

OFCCP — National Origin Discrimination

OFCCP — Regional Conference for New Jersey: Veterans

OFCCP — Retaliation Complaints

OFCCP — Service and Supply Seminar

OFCCP — Supply and Service AAP Seminar for Small and New Contractors

OFCCP — Service and Supply Compliance Assistance Seminar for First Time Contractors

OFCCP — Technical Assistance Seminar

OFCCP — Workplace Accommodations

OLMS — Compliance Seminar

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What's New

Teaming Up to Retrain Unemployed Vets

CAP. View the slideshow for more images and captions.

In a collaborative effort to help unemployed veterans find education and training services that will lead to a new job, the Department of Labor has joined with the Department of Veteran Affairs to launch the Veterans Retraining Assistance Program. The program provides participating veterans age 35 to 60 with up to 12 months of training assistance in a VA-approved community college or technical school program that leads to an associate's degree or industry recognized certificate. The VA will provide up to $1,473 per month in financial support. Upon completion, the Labor Department will work with participants to help them find jobs in high-demand fields that require their new skills. This program is expected to serve 99,000 unemployed veterans. Veterans can apply on a first-come, first-serve basis for programs that begin on or after July 1, 2012.

DC Vets First in Nation to Apply for VRAP Educational Opportunity

Julius Ware II. Click on the photo for a larger image and caption.

Washington, D.C.'s, Julius Ware II and Cheryl Blackburn on May 16 became two of the first veterans in the country to sign up for the new joint Department of Labor and Department of Veterans Affairs program that seeks to retrain 99,000 veterans for high-demand jobs. Ware, 52, formerly an Army sergeant, had once run his own electrical company and had held a job in public works for a Maryland town but is currently unemployed. The Veterans Retraining Assistance Program, Ware said, "will help me complete my formal education and give me skill sets to compete for new job opportunities."

Carolyn Blackburn. Click on the image for a larger photo and caption.
Blackburn, 51, an Army veteran, had previously held jobs in customer service and as a security contractor, but is also unemployed. She said she hopes to use VRAP to earn a college degree in finance "and use my talents to be a great help to an employer." Veterans may seek assistance at nearly 3,000 One-Stop Centers across the nation and from Local Veterans' Employment Representatives and Disabled Veterans' Outreach Program specialists in many communities.

National News

Funds for State Unemployment Insurance Systems Announced

The Employment and Training Administration has announced the availability of funds for the Unemployment Insurance Program Integrity, Performance and System Improvements. The announced supplemental funding opportunity will allow states to prevent, detect and recover improper UI payments, improve their system's information technology infrastructure and enable states to expand or implement Re-employment and Eligibility Assessment programs.

The Worker Safety and Health Challenge

The White House hosted a May 16 event launching a safety data initiative to make government data relating to safety more accessible and user-friendly. Deputy Secretary of Labor Seth Harris was on hand to announce the new app challenge, the Worker Safety and Health Challenge. "At its core, the mission of the contest echoes the central mission of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration — making sure workers stay safe healthy and above all, alive on the job," said Harris. The goal of the challenge is to create tools that demonstrate the importance of knowing about workplace safety and health and tools that help young people understand their rights in the workplace. Entries for the challenge must be submitted by September 16, 2012. Secretary Solis and Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Dr. David Michaels will lead a distinguished panel of judges featuring government officials, tech entrepreneurs, safety experts, and the co-hosts of the Discovery Channel show "Myth Busters."

Around DOL

Labor Meets on Trade

Secretary Solis explains the Labor Department initiatives and programs that protect workers. View the slideshow for more images and captions.

The May 14 meeting of the Labor Advisory Committee for Trade Negotiations and Trade Policy included a robust discussion on the perceived impact of free trade on American jobs and the continued need to enforce labor rights under trade agreements. In opening remarks, Secretary Solis talked about the department's domestic efforts to strengthen protections for workers in this country, as well as efforts to monitor labor conditions in U.S. trading partner countries. She reiterated the administration's strong commitment to hold trading partners accountable on worker rights. "Violence against labor activists will not be tolerated and fundamental labor rights must be respected," Solis said. U.S. Trade Ambassador Ron Kirk co-chaired the committee meeting that included participation by leaders of American unions.

"I Am The Workforce"

Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy Kathleen Martinez, meets the 2012 representatives for WRP's I Am the Workforce.  From left: Sara Mahoney, business development specialist, ODEP; Glenda Crunk, U.S. Military Academy, West Point, NY; Matthew Swanson, U.S. Department of Energy, Washington, D.C.; Assistant Secretary Kathleen Martinez; Bogdan 'Bob' Vitas, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Arlington, Va.; Nadia Ibrahim, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Rockville, Md.; Anthony Baskin, U.S. Federal Highway Administration, Washington, D.C., and Julley Yang, U.S. Naval Facilities Engineering Command, San Diego, Calif. Click on the photo for a larger image and detailed caption.

Six employees with disabilities who participated in the Workforce Recruitment Program and who are now working in public service met with Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy Kathy Martinez last week to provide their personal success stories as part of the "I Am The Workforce" initiative. "These workers are incredible. The energy and talent that each offer is an asset to their employers. The WRP database represents more than 2,700 students with disabilities, including veterans, that possess the critical skill sets our country needs – science, technology, engineering and math," said Martinez. Their stories will be used to educate employers and others about the diverse skills and talents that workers with disabilities bring to the workplace.

News You Can Use

#Skills2PayBills Chat

Assistant Secretary Kathy Martinez (left) and members of the Office of Public Affairs review questions during the chat. View the slideshow for more images and captions.

Do students learn in school the skills they need? Kathy Martinez, assistant secretary of labor for disability employment policy, signed on to Twitter on May 17 to answer this and other questions related to youth workforce readiness. In addition, the discussion was an opportunity for Martinez to inform the public about the recently released "Skills to Pay the Bills: Mastering Soft Skills for Workplace Success" curriculum. The Office of Disability Employment Policy created this dynamic and engaging curriculum to teach young people, including youth with disabilities, about the skills they will need to succeed in a 21st century economy. Under Secretary of Education Martha Kanter also joined the conversation, as well as special guests from the University of California, Berkeley and Manpower, Inc.

Help for Small Businesses on Retirement Plans

The Employee Benefits Security Administration is hosting free retirement plan compliance assistance seminars for small businesses around the country. The seminars, "Getting It Right — Know Your Fiduciary Responsibilities," help small business owners understand their basic fiduciary responsibilities when operating private sector retirement plans. Getting it right, however, can be challenging, and that's especially true for small employers who have limited time, resources and access to professional help with their benefit programs. Topics covered range from selecting and monitoring service providers to filing annual reports with the government.

OSHA Announces Whistleblower Advisory Committee

OSHA's new Whistleblower website offers information about protections for whistleblowers. Visit the site.

The department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which is charged with protecting whistleblowers under 21 different laws, announced its intent this week to establish a Whistleblower Protection Advisory Committee. OSHA, in a May 17 Federal Register notice, said an advisory committee would provide advice on developing and implementing improved customer service models and enhancements in the investigative and enforcement process, training, and regulations governing OSHA investigations. "Workers who expose securities and financial fraud, adulterated foods, air and water pollution, and workplace safety hazards have a legal right to speak out without fear of retaliation, and the laws that protect these whistleblowers also protect the health, safety and well-being of all Americans," said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor and head of OSHA.

Wage and Hour Division Opens Redding, Calif., Field Office

The Wage and Hour Division has opened a field office in Redding, Calif. An extension of the division's Sacramento office, the Redding Field Office will be accessible to employees, employers and community organizations between Sacramento, Calif. and Eugene, Ore. Investigators will spend most of their time in the field providing resources and assistance needed to ensure compliance with federal wage and hour laws. Drop-in office hours are scheduled two days per month. For more information, call the main office in Sacramento at 916-978-6123.

Agreement with Mexican Consulate in Little Rock

The Wage and Hour Division and the Mexican Consulate in Little Rock have signed an agreement of understanding in which they agree to combine resources and coordinate efforts to inform employers about the laws enforced by the department, and to educate Mexican nationals working in Arkansas and Oklahoma about their rights under these laws. As part of the agreement, the WHD will provide training for consulate staff on how to educate constituents on overtime provisions, child labor standards, farm labor contracting, field sanitation and migrant labor housing.

DOL Working for You

Homeless Veterans Program Is Making a Difference

Aracely Montelongo

The department's Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program has allowed Volunteers of America Michigan to help hundreds of veterans return to independent lives. Aracely Montelongo, a single mom of two and decorated 10-year Army veteran, is one such beneficiary of the program. After moving to Michigan to look for work and be closer to her family, Montelongo used the program to receive counseling on how to write a resume and cover letter and look for a job. Her hard work paid off when she found a job with the U.S. Postal Service. The HVRP "got me the right answers and directed me to the help I needed," she said.


Arizona Army Vet Finds Schooling and Employment

Jac'Queline Moore. Click on photo for a larger image.

Army veteran Jac'Queline Moore admits she "bounced around a lot," holding jobs along the way from retail clerk to truck driver, but never finding her niche. When she lost her money and home in a failed business venture, Moore turned to the department's Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program for assistance. Moore received career counseling and transitional housing help through the Pima County, Ariz., Sullivan Jackson Employment Center, which sponsored her enrollment in paralegal classes at Pima Community College. She was so impressive in her educational pursuits that she was eventually hired by the college to work with other students. "Every second of my trials and tribulations was worth it" because the program "got me back my self esteem."

DOL in Action

Aid for Laid Off Space Shuttle Workers

A $7.2 million National Emergency Grant increment was awarded by the department to continue providing re-employment assistance to approximately 3,200 workers in Florida who were affected by layoffs resulting from the termination of NASA's Space Shuttle Program. "For nearly 30 years, these dedicated workers provided the technical expertise to make America's space program the greatest in the world," said Secretary Solis. "This federal funding will make it possible for them to continue receiving job placement assistance, skills training and other re-employment services so that they can begin new careers."

Retirement Savings Recovered From L.A. Company

The department's Employee Benefits Security Administration has reached an agreement with a California fruit and nut company to restore $1,287,901 to the company's pension plan. In a consent judgment entered this month in the U.S. District Court's Central District in Los Angeles, officers of Los Angeles-based Western Mixers Inc. agreed to restore $802,901 to participants' accounts within 10 days. During the course of the investigation leading up to the lawsuit, the company repaid $485,000 of the total funds identified as missing.

Nurses to Receive Catch-Up Pay Following Investigation

A Southern California home nursing provider has agreed to pay $654,082 to 108 current and former registered nurses and licensed vocational nurses following an investigation by the Wage and Hour Division's West Covina District Office. Extended Health Care Inc. paid some employees "straight time" for all hours worked, including hours in excess of 40 per week. Others were paid only time and one-quarter for overtime hours, and some did receive time and one-half but only for hours worked beyond 80 in the biweekly payroll. Several employees were misclassified as independent contractors.

Assistance for Workers Hit by Closing of Oil Refinery

More than 1,200 workers affected by layoffs after the closure of the Hovensa oil refinery on St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands will receive re-employment services under a $7,842,250 National Emergency Grant announced by the Labor Department on May 15. The refinery was the largest private employer in the U.S. Virgin Islands and operated one of the largest oil refineries in the Western Hemisphere.

Wage, Hour Initiative at Military Bases in Oklahoma

The department's Wage and Hour Division has launched an enforcement initiative focused on Oklahoma's major military installations to inform construction, security, landscaping, janitorial and building maintenance, and food services workers of their rights and ensure compliance by government contractors with federal labor laws such as the McNamara-O'Hara Service Contract Act, Davis-Bacon and Related Acts, and the Fair Labor Standards Act. This initiative will focus particularly on contractors and subcontractors providing services that rely on the labor of low-wage and vulnerable workers.

Home Depot Store in New York Cited for Electrical Hazards

Home Depot Inc. has been cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for alleged repeat and serious violations of workplace safety standards at its store on state Route 50 in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. The retailer faces $51,480 in proposed fines following an inspection by OSHA's Albany Area Office that found that the required working space around eight electrical equipment panels was used for storage, which consequently restricted employees' access to circuit breakers in the event of an emergency. Home Depot had been cited by OSHA in 2010 and 2012 for similar hazards at its Keene, N.H., and Vineland, N.J., stores, respectively.

Employee to Get Back Pay in Family and Medical Leave Case

The Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections in Keithville, La., has agreed to pay $37,409 in back wages and retirement contributions to a former employee following an investigation by the Wage and Hour Division. The investigation, conducted by officials from the WHD's New Orleans District Office, found the employer followed a civil service rule that allows an employee to be fired if they have less than eight hours of sick leave and are unable to perform their duties. "The Labor Department is committed to protecting workplace flexibility, including those who are eligible under the Family and Medical Leave Act," said Cynthia Watson, regional administrator for the Wage and Hour Division in the Southwest.

Hazards Found at Rite Aid New York Store

Rite Aid of New York Inc. has been cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for alleged repeat and serious safety violations at a store in Brooklyn. Rite Aid faces $111,100 in proposed fines following an inspection by OSHA's Manhattan Area Office. The recurring violations included shelves and boxes that blocked and narrowed an emergency exit route; unsecure piles of boxes subject to collapse; and workers exposed to falls of up to 10 feet with stacking boxes and totes on the unguarded edges of stairs.

Plan Administrator Allegedly Took Millions From Retirement Plan

An Employee Benefits Security Administration investigation has led to a complaint against a retirement plan fiduciary in Idaho. The complaint alleges that Matthew D. Hutcheson violated the Employee Retirement Income Security Act when he took more than $3.2 million from a retirement plan that included participants from multiple companies. The complaint alleges that, toward the end of 2010, Hutcheson used the money for his own personal expenses and in an attempt to purchase an interest in a failed ski and golf resort in Idaho. This prohibited transaction has left the affected retirement plans without sufficient funds to pay participants all the benefits owed. Hutcheson faces a separate criminal indictment, which was filed in the same court on April 10, in connection with the transaction.

Company Cited After Allowing Rides in Excavator Buckets

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited North Royalton, Ohio-based DiGioia-Suburban Excavating for two willful safety violations after discovering that workers were allowed to ride inside an excavator bucket to access a trench at a Bowling Green job site on Nov. 17, 2011. A complaint prompted OSHA's inspection of the site, where six workers were digging a trench to replace existing sanitary lines. Proposed fines total $123,750.

Probes Lead to Supervised Union Elections in Louisiana, New Jersey

The American Postal Workers Union Local 174 in Baton Rouge, La., has agreed to hold new officer elections under the supervision of the Office of Labor-Management Standards after an election investigation found evidence of ballot tampering during the union's election last fall. In Millstone, N.J., the Communications Workers of America Local 1022 has agreed to a new election for the position of secretary-treasurer under OLMS supervision. An OLMS investigation found that the local failed in the prior election to honor a candidate's request to mail campaign literature by such a date that would allow voting members sufficient time to review the materials before voting began.

Grant to Train Dislocated Idaho Workers

The Labor Department awarded a $947,841 National Emergency Grant to the Idaho Department of Labor to provide re-employment services to about 125 workers affected by the closure of Clearwater Paper Corp.'s sawmill in Lewiston, Idaho. Many workers were laid off on Nov. 22, 2011 as a result of the sawmill's closure.

Lack of Respiratory Protection Found After Worker Dies

Vivid Image Inc. has been cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration with 12 safety violations — including two willful — after one worker died and another was hospitalized from exposure to the chemical toluene at a Theresa, Wis., manufacturing plant last year. Proposed penalties total $64,600. Two willful violations involved workers not wearing respiratory protection while working with the chemical toluene in an unventilated area, and for exposure to toluene beyond the peak level of 500 parts per million. Toluene is a clear, colorless liquid used in a variety of industries and is a common solvent for products such as paints, thinners and glues.

Company Cited for Not Seeking Emergency Medical Care for Worker

Raani Corp. has been cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for failing to seek emergency medical treatment after a worker incurred chemical burns at the Bedford Park, Ill., manufacturing plant and later died. The company has been cited with 14 safety violations, including six willful violations. Due to the willful nature of some of the violations, OSHA has placed the company in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which mandates targeted follow-up inspections to ensure compliance with the law.

Settlement Agreement With Manufacturer Following 2011 Explosion

The department has secured a settlement agreement with Bostik Inc., a Middleton, Mass.-based adhesives manufacturer, to resolve litigation stemming from citations issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for safety violations following a March 2011 explosion. OSHA cited Bostik in September after a six-month investigation found numerous violations of the agency's process safety management standard. According to the settlement, Bostik has taken and continues to take corrective action to address deficiencies, enhance the process safety program's effectiveness, and will submit proof of abatement to OSHA. Bostik paid a fine of $600,000.

Fighting to Reinstate a Miner Unlawfully Discharged

The Mine Safety and Health Administration has filed a complaint with the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission against Ferraiolo Construction Inc., based in Maine, to reinstate a worker and provide compensation for wages lost for being unlawfully fired. The complaint says that the company fired the worker in September 2011 in retaliation for making recurring safety complaints and reporting to MSHA the company's failure to install proper safeguards — actions considered to be protected activity under the 1977 Mine Act. MSHA is seeking an order requiring Ferraiolo Inc. to cease and desist from discharging or discriminating against the miner and others who engage in protected activity, and to pay a $20,000 civil penalty

Plastic Manufacturer Deemed Severe Violator

Plastico Products LLC in Irvington, N.J., has been cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration following a November 2011 incident in which a worker's fingertips were amputated. The OSHA investigation found two willful, 23 serious and three other-than-serious violations, which included electrical hazards, failing to develop, use and document energy control, or "lockout/tagout" procedures, recordkeeping violations and employees exposed to unguarded moving parts. Due to the willful violations cited, the company has been added to OSHA's Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which focuses on recalcitrant employers that endanger workers by committing willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violations. Proposed penalties total $156,600.

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