United States Department of Labor; Good jobs for everyone.

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May 9, 2013
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Labor Secretary, Supreme Court Justice, Ambassador, Spy

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

As we celebrate Jewish American Heritage Month, we recognize the deep and lasting bond between the Jewish community and the labor movement, and we honor the pioneering work of Jewish leaders in advancing the rights of workers in our nation. Arthur J. Goldberg became the first Jewish secretary of labor when he was appointed by President John F. Kennedy in 1961. (The first Jewish member of the President's Cabinet was Oscar S. Straus, who became the secretary of commerce and labor in 1906.) Goldberg would go on to have one of the more distinguished careers in American public life, serving as an associate justice of the Supreme

Arthur J. Goldberg — Labor Secretary, Supreme Court Justice, Ambassador, Spy.  Click for a larger image.

Court and as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. During World War II, Goldberg worked briefly for the Office of Strategic Services (predecessor of the CIA), where he organized anti-Nazi labor groups to create extensive intelligence networks. The department has been led by two Jewish secretaries since Goldberg: Robert Reich, who served under President Clinton, and Seth Harris, the current acting secretary.

Learn About Jewish American Heritage Month
View the Centennial Timeline
View the Centennial Video

Minimum Wage Myth Buster

Myth: Younger workers don't have to be paid the minimum wage.

Not true: While there are some exceptions, employers are generally required to pay at least the federal minimum wage. Exceptions allowed include a minimum wage of $4.25 per hour for young workers under the age of 20, but only during their first 90 consecutive calendar days of employment with an employer, and as long as their work does not displace other workers. After 90 consecutive days of employment or the employee reaches 20 years of age, whichever comes first, the employee must receive the current federal minimum wage or the state minimum wage, whichever is higher. There are programs requiring federal certification that allow for payment of less than the full federal minimum wage, but those programs are not limited to the employment of young workers.

Q&A About the Minimum Wage
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Work In Progress: The Best of Our Blog

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

We're Gaining Momentum, Now it's Time to Hit the Gas: After the release of a positive April jobs report, which showed the economy added 165,000 total nonfarm jobs in April and an additional 114,000 jobs in revisions for February and March, acting Secretary Harris urges further action to keep the momentum going. "We are not creating the abundance of new jobs that will put everyone who wants to work back on the job and end the cruel game of economic musical chairs that leaves so many hard-working people out of work when the music stops," Harris writes. "We need a balanced approach that makes investments in job-creating activities while pursuing a long-term deficit reduction strategy." April marks 38 consecutive months of job growth, with 6.8 million jobs added over that period.

Making a Lifetime of Savings Last: The department is looking for the best ideas on how to improve existing periodic benefit statements to show workers who participate in employer-sponsored retirement plans what their savings could look like stretched out over the course of retirement. Phyllis Borzi, assistant secretary of labor for employee benefits security, explains how these statements can help workers of all ages make smart savings decisions and make those savings last.

Making Good on the Promise of Equal Pay: Pamela Coukos, senior program advisor at the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, writes about the successes that the agency has achieved in promoting equal pay since the establishment of President Obama's Equal Pay Task Force in January 2010. Combating pay discrimination is a top priority for OFCCP, which it does through enhanced training, greater collaboration and a more focused approach to compliance reviews of the nearly 200,000 businesses receiving federal contracts.

Hearing From Alaskan Vets

Left to right; Keith Kelly, assistant secretary of labor for Veterans' Employment and Training Service speaks with William Wallace, an army veteran who completed two tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan and is now enrolled in an electrician apprenticeship program in Alaska, and Rhett Jeppson, associate administrator for the U.S. Small Business Administration's Office of Veterans Business Development. View the slideshow for more images and captions.

To learn firsthand the challenges being faced by military personnel and their families in obtaining jobs, the department's new assistant secretary of labor for veterans' employment and training has been holding roundtable meetings with veterans and business and labor leaders. Assistant Secretary Keith Kelly, accompanied by Sen. Mark Begich, met in Anchorage on May 5 with "Vetrepreneurs" — veterans who are interested in learning about programs that could help them start and maintain small businesses. Kelly also met with labor and business leaders to emphasize that veterans bring skills and experiences to the workplace that can add to a company's bottom line. During his trip, Kelly visited with students enrolled in an electrician apprenticeship program and also met with members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10041 in Bethel. At each stop, Kelly thanked veterans for their selfless commitment to protecting American freedoms and said the department was determined to help veterans and transitioning service members "find good, middle-class jobs."

View the Slideshow

Ability, Support and Success

Regional Program Manager Eric Gray, lead culinary instructor Herbert Huber, Assistant Secretary Kathy Martinez and Regional Director Brian Daher listen to advanced culinary instructor chef William Wagner. View the slideshow for more images and captions.

Rising above society's expectations was the theme of Kathy Martinez's remarks when the assistant secretary for disability employment policy addressed 450 students and 125 staff members at San Francisco's Treasure Island Job Corps Center on May 3. Martinez discussed the challenges of growing up with a disability and the importance of having people "in your life who reinforce the message that you can, when it's tempting to believe that you can't." Martinez also took questions from students, including one on her "greatest achievement" in college. She recalled a moment in 1989 when the Loma Prieta earthquake struck. She was at a transit stop at San Francisco State and a woman overcome with anxiety tried to run into traffic to escape the quake. Martinez held her, "with her biting and scratching me until it was over." Hearing the story, a Job Corps counselor came up to Martinez and said, "That was me you saved that day at the Muni station." The counselor, Cleo Reece, and Martinez hugged, prompting tears throughout the crowd.

View the Slideshow

Mine Stakeholder Summit

Assistant Secretary of Labor for MSHA Joe Main delivered remarks at the Portland Cement Association Southeast Stakeholder's Summit in Birmingham, Ala. Click for a larger image.

Nearly 70 mine industry representatives gathered May 6 in Birmingham, Ala., for the PCA Southeast Stakeholder's Summit. Sponsored by the Portland Cement Association, this one-day event brought together officials from several industry organizations, including Georgia Construction Aggregate Association, Georgia Mining Association and Kentucky Crushed Stone Association, along with officials from the Mine Safety and Health Administration. Among the scheduled speakers was Joseph Main, the assistant secretary of labor in charge of MSHA. He discussed the actions and initiatives that the agency and mining industry have taken to move mine safety in a positive direction. Main also noted this year's 35th anniversary of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act, saying, "That legislation — simply put — improved mine safety and health, reduced injuries and illnesses and saved lives."

Domestic Workers in Bay State

Members of the public, community leaders, as well as state and federal partners, including the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women, joined the department's Women's Bureau in a roundtable discussion on issues facing women domestic workers in the state on May 8, in a conference room of the JFK Federal Building in Boston, Mass. Click for a larger image.

The Women's Bureau hosted a roundtable discussion on issues facing women domestic workers in Massachusetts. Held on May 8 at the JFK Federal Building in Boston, the event brought together the public, community leaders, as well as state and federal partners, including the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women. Women domestic workers in attendance voiced difficulties that ranged from pay discrepancies to inadequate health care, among other issues.

Youth Job Fair in Denver

Homeless youths often face unique barriers to employment. To help young people address employment challenges, staff from the Women's Bureau Denver region distributed information at the Urban Peak Job Fair in Denver on May 3. Bureau representatives talked to young people about the skills and education required to enter the green jobs sector and provided information about entry-level careers in the government. About 80 young job seekers, who met with Colorado employers, also heard Denver Mayor Michael Hancock recount his experience as a homeless youth.

Listening to Data Users

"Relevant" is an important word to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. BLS data must be objective, timely, and accurate, and it also must serve the information needs of a diverse user community. One of the ways BLS stays in touch with its customers is through the BLS Data Users Advisory Committee. The committee, composed of stakeholders from labor, business, research, academia and government, met on May 7 to discuss a variety of program enhancements and provide feedback to the agency. After a welcome and review of agency developments by Commissioner Erica L. Groshen, BLS subject matter experts presented sessions on a potential new Occupational Requirements Survey, the geographic display of economic data, new agency outreach initiatives, and potential improvements to the Employment Projections program.

Learn About DUAC

Building a Skills Pipeline

One of the challenges the economy faces is the aging of the skilled trades workforce. Trade organizations, educational institutions, government and communities across the country are working together to develop a skills infrastructure that will ensure a steady flow of highly skilled workers in all of the construction trades. Jane Oates, assistant secretary for employment and training, joined approximately 100 representatives of the Independent Electrical Contractors association for its 2013 national legislative conference to discuss how public-private organizations are collaborating to prevent a skills shortage in a field on the brink of rapid growth. Oates discussed the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training grant program that is providing nearly $2 billion over four years to community colleges to expand their capacity to train workers for high-demand occupations, such as electricians and welders.

Retirement Security for Latinos

Increasing retirement savings and investments was the theme of the 2013 Latino Retirement Security Summit on May 8. Policymakers, industry leaders and retirement experts gathered in Washington, D.C., to discuss policies and challenges affecting retirement security. Phyllis C. Borzi, assistant secretary of labor for the Employee Benefits Security Administration, delivered a presentation on the agency's recent accomplishments and future plans. "Our department is committed to making sure America's workers have the information and support they need to protect their retirement savings," she said.

Learn About Retirement Savings

Encouraging Inclusive Employment

The labor force participation rate of people with disabilities is dramatically lower than that of the general population, at around 20 percent. One of the primary goals of the Office of Disability Employment Policy is ensuring that disability is a part of corporate diversity and inclusion efforts. On May 2, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy Kathy Martinez gave the keynote address on this topic at EmploymentLINK2013. She spoke to an audience of about 80 San Francisco-area employers who have expressed interest in recruiting and advancing workers with disabilities. "It is important for businesses to realize that given the current economic and demographic landscape, there's never been a more critical time for America's employers to hire, retain and advance people with disabilities," said Martinez.

Mass to Celebrate Frances Perkins

The Parish of St. Monica and St. James will honor the legacy of one of its members, Frances Perkins, first woman to serve in a president's Cabinet. Perkins, who served as labor secretary during Franklin D. Roosevelt's administration, is widely regarded as "the woman behind the New Deal." She was recently added to the Episcopal Church's calendar of saints as "a public servant and prophetic witness." Speaking at the Mass will be Donn Mitchell, a scholar of the spiritual foundations of the New Deal; Kirstin Downey, author of a Perkins biography; and Carl Fillichio, senior advisor for public affairs and communications at the department. The Mass will be offered on Perkin's feast day, May 13, 7 p.m. at St. Monica and St. James, 222 8th St., N.E., Washington, D.C. The Mass and a reception afterward are free and open to the public.

Weekly UI Claims

The department reported the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial Unemployment Insurance claims was 323,000 for the week ending May 4, a decrease of 4,000 from the previous week. The four-week moving average was 336,750, down 6,250 from the previous week's revised average.

Read the News Release

Calendar Highlight

Twitter Team Up for Veterans

Are you a veteran who has questions about navigating a civilian job search? An employer looking to hire a veteran but are not sure where to start? Acting Secretary Harris and The American Legion will be on hand to answer questions about resources available to connect veterans with good jobs during a Twitter town hall from 11 a.m. to noon EDT on May 13. Use the hashtag #VetsJobsChat to join the chat or to send questions in advance. We look forward to a lively discussion!

Read the Blog Post

Upcoming Deadlines & Events

Open Funding Opportunities

OFCCP — Analyzing Personnel Activity Data / Internet Applicant Recordkeeping Rule

June 21 — Columbus, OH

OFCCP — Annual Consumer Conference

June 20 — Norwood, MA

OFCCP — Best Practices for Implementing an Affirmative Action Program

May 14 — New Orleans, LA

OFCCP — Compliance Assistance / Outreach and Education Event for Prime and Subcontractors

May 16 — Richmond, VA

OFCCP — Compliance Assistance Seminar: Supply & Service Contractors

May 15 — Nashville, TN
May 29 — Nashville, TN
June 5 — Nashville, TN
June 12 — Nashville, TN
June 19 — Nashville, TN
June 26 — Nashville, TN

OFCCP — Construction: Nuts and Bolts

May 14 — Dallas, TX

OFCCP — Developing Written Affirmative Action Programs / Workplace Accommodations

June 6 — Columbus, OH

OFCCP — Diversity in Tech

June 5 — Santa Clara, CA

OFCCP — "Empowerment Session" on Developing AAPs for New and Small Supply and Service Contractors and Outreach Best Practices for a Diverse / Inclusive Workforce

May 16 — Richmond, VA
June 18 — Richmond, VA

OFCCP — Good Faith Efforts to Accomplish Goals

May 15 — Orange, CA

OFCCP — Internet Applicant Rule Refresher

June 20 — Houston, TX

OFCCP — Nuts and Bolts of Construction Evaluations and Best Practices for Minority/Female Utilization Goal Attainment

May 30 — Baltimore, MD

OFCCP — Requirements for Filing a Complaint

June 19 — Milwaukee, WI

OFCCP — Retaliation Complaints

May 16 — Omaha, NE

OFCCP — The Complaint Process

May 16 — Omaha, NE
June 6 — Omaha, NE

OFCCP — What to Expect During an OFCCP Audit / OFCCP Regulatory Update

June 20 — Omaha, NE

OFCCP — Women in Nontraditional Jobs / The Complaint Process

May 15 — Columbus, OH

OFCCP — Veterans Job Fair and Employment Workshop & Webinar

May 13 — Boston, MA

OFCCP — Veterans Career Fair

May 15 — Boston, MA

WB — Latina Health Awareness Event

May 11 — Philadelphia, PA

VETS — Twitter Team Up for Veterans

May 13 — Washington, DC

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What's New

Putting the Spotlight on Skills and Success

The White House - Jobs & Opportunity Tour logo. Watch Jobs and Opportunities Video

Science, technology, engineering and math — or STEM — skills are not just buzzwords in Austin, Texas. President Obama and Acting Secretary of Labor Seth D. Harris kicked off a visit there at the Manor New Tech High School, where 99 percent of students graduate and learn the real-world skills they need to fill jobs that are available right now. The president and acting secretary of labor also heard on May 9 from residents about what's being done to create stable and well-paying jobs that can support a middle-class family. Speaking to an audience of teachers, students, and community members, President Obama said, "Our economy can't succeed unless our young people have the skills that they need to succeed... every day, this school is proving that every child has the potential to learn the real-world skills they need to succeed in college and beyond." Following the visit to Manor, President Obama and acting Secretary Harris sat down with local residents working hard to stay in the middle class. The president emphasized his vision to ensure that hard work leads to a decent living, which includes raising the minimum wage. Participants included Joe Alonzo, a paint contractor with 35 years of experience, and Caroline Sweet, a fourth grade teacher who is expecting her second child any day. Following the conversation, acting Secretary Harris took to Twitter saying, "The economy grows best when hard work is rewarded and when everyone gets a fair shot." The president also visited with technology entrepreneurs, who stand to benefit from an executive order on Open Data, and with advanced manufacturer Applied Materials.

Watch Jobs and Opportunities Video
Learn About the Minimum Wage

National News

Need to Watch: Acting Secretary Talks Skills Training

Acting Secretary Harris appearing on PBS' Need to Know. Click to view the segment

"Skills training is the leading edge of economic development for many communities," said acting Secretary Harris, appearing on PBS' Need to Know program. Harris spoke with journalist Jeff Greenfield on the department's efforts to help community colleges around the country expand their capacity to provide training that meets the needs of local employers. Last month, the department made $474 million available through the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training grant initiative to help community colleges in this effort. The PBS segment profiled an unemployed worker who was attending South Seattle Community College, a TAACCCT grantee, and training for a job in the fast-growing composites manufacturing industry. These funds are also helping to create a pipeline of skilled workers in other high-demand industries, such as health care, information technology and biosciences.

Watch the PBS Segment
Learn About TAACCCT
Read the Blog Post

SUBWAY to Help Improve Compliance With Labor Laws

The department's Wage and Hour Division and the franchisor of the world's largest restaurant chain are collaborating to increase compliance with federal labor laws at SUBWAY locations nationwide. The franchisor is providing a forum and resources to assist the Wage and Hour Division in educating franchisees. "This company's efforts illustrate both a commitment to the integrity of its brand and to the well-being of SUBWAY restaurant employees nationwide," said acting Secretary Harris." The franchisor has placed a link to the division's website on its intranet site for restaurant owners to reference, amended several of its governing documents and provided numerous resources to help franchisees comply with labor laws. Additionally, it has agreed to enforce its rights under the franchise contract if it becomes aware that a franchisee knowingly violated a federal labor law. This agreement should elevate Fair Labor Standards Act compliance to a new level of priority among franchisees.

Read the News Release

Women Veterans Initiative to Boost Employment

As part of a revitalized initiative to tackle unemployment among women veterans, representatives from the Veterans' Employment and Training Service attended two events in Chicago during the first week of May. Assistant Secretary of Labor Keith Kelly and VETS Women Veteran Initiative Special Advisor Jenny Erwin attended a Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship event to hear from women veterans who have successfully built businesses after leaving the military. VWISE, sponsored by Syracuse University's Whitman School of Management and the Small Business Administration, featured sessions such as "Business Planning 201: Behind Every Woman Is a Great Plan!" and "I Get By With a Little Help From My 'Government' Friends." Erwin also attended the National Summit on Women Veteran Homelessness, sponsored by the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse, where she participated in roundtables to identify effective interventions that will prevent women veterans from becoming homeless.

Learn About VWISE

Take Three: Lifetime Income Illustration

EBSA Retirement logo

The Employee Benefits Security Administration on May 7 announced an advance notice of proposed rulemaking focusing on lifetime income illustrations given to participants in defined contribution retirement plans, such as 401(k) and 403(b) plans. The notice provides an opportunity for early input into the development of regulations. Assistant Secretary of Labor Phyllis C. Borzi answers three questions about the initiative.

What is a lifetime income illustration? What we mean by a lifetime income illustration is a projection, a visual indicator on a quarterly or annual retirement account statement, if you will, that would show an individual saving for retirement the likely monthly income that may be generated from his or her current account balance. The illustration could also show an expected account balance at the time of retirement based on projected contribution amounts and annual growth over a period of years, and how such a lump sum could be broken down into a stream of monthly payments for life.

Why is this important? Unfortunately, many retirees run the risk of outliving their savings, and this initiative is intended to help Americans have a more secure retirement. The traditional pension plans where retirees receive monthly checks from former employers is less and less of an option for workers these days. What we've seen over recent decades is the move towards defined contribution plans, like 401(k) plans. Participants in such plans need to manage their own investments throughout their career, and continue to manage their nest egg when they retire. The final balance that workers will see in their account will very likely be the most money they will ever have at their disposal. For example, $300,000 might seem like a lot of money for retirement. However, when you show a worker today how that amount would be broken down into monthly allotments over about 20 years, it's an eye opener. We're hoping a lifetime income illustration might spur better planning for the future.

Can you show us an example of a lifetime income illustration? Yes. On our website is a calculator that will allow you to plug in your projected retirement age, current account balance, your current annual contribution amount, and the number of years until you expect to retire. It uses an annuitization approach to estimate the monthly lifetime income streams based on your current account balance and on the projected value of the account balance at your retirement. It's a very useful tool that even some on my staff have said has forced them to rethink how they're saving and investing money for the future.

Read the News Release
Read the Blog Post
Use the Lifetime Income Calculator

International Scene

US Requests Consultations With Bahrain on Workers' Rights

The United States has requested consultations with the Government of Bahrain under the Labor Chapter of the United States — Bahrain Free Trade Agreement, according to a May 7 joint announcement by acting Secretary of Labor Harris and acting U.S. Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis. The request follows the department's December 2012 report highlighting labor issues stemming from Bahrain's response to civil unrest in the country in early 2011 and recommended actions to address those issues. "Our sincere hope is that these consultations produce a concrete plan of action, based on the recommendations in the Labor Department's report, which will strengthen labor protections in Bahrain and help prevent future violations of workers' rights," said acting Secretary Harris.

Read the News Release
Read the Request for Consultations
Read the Report on Bahrain

Around DOL

NAOSH Week 2013

Winning posters from this year's ASSE Kids 'Worker Safety Works for Everyone' poster contest, ages 5-6. View the slideshow for more images and captions.

Engineers in occupational safety, health and environmental work convened at the Frances Perkins Building on May 6 for the start of the annual North American Occupational Safety and Health Week. Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health, spoke alongside Presidents Richard Pollock of the American Society of Safety Engineers Jim Hopkins of the Canadian Society of Safety Engineering, and Victoriano Angüis Terrazas of the Mexican Association of Safety and Health. Michaels highlighted OSHA's recent initiative to further protect temporary workers, ensure workplace training in a language workers understand, and the agency's campaign to prevent falls in construction. This year's NAOSH week theme, "Worker Safety Works for Everyone," was highlighted by the winners of the ASSE's annual children's poster contest.

View the Slideshow

News You Can Use

Join an Online Dialogue on Youths With Disabilities

Policymakers, service providers, the advocacy community and the general public are invited to join an online dialogue on how existing laws affect youths with disabilities in the transition from school to work. The department is cohosting the online event May 13-27. "We must ensure that our federal programs and resources support our nation's youths and young adults with disabilities in reaching their dreams of economic empowerment and independence," said Kathy Martinez, assistant secretary of labor for disability employment policy. "Speaking up online can help us identify barriers as well as opportunities that may exist at the federal level and also help us develop solutions."

Read the News Release
Join the Dialogue

Of Note

Special Recognition for Long-Serving Public Servants

The National's President William Howard Taft congratulates Edward Pratt for his 60 years of federal service. Click to view a larger photo.

In honor of this year's Public Service Recognition Week, President Obama thanked the country's civil servants for their work and dedication. In a letter, the president said, "Our dedicated public employees are committed to a cause greater than personal ambition, and each day, they tackle many of our most urgent challenges and help move us closer to a more perfect Union." Nowhere is this more evident than in the six individuals who were celebrated at the department on May 9. Saluted for 60 years of federal service was Edward Pratt, supervisory IT specialist, Bureau of Labor Statistics. Celebrated for 50 years of government service were: Stanley Hankin, director of the Division of Audio Visual Communication Services, Office of Public Affairs; Gloran Neal, workers compensation assistant, Office of Workers' Compensation Programs; Barbara Templemon, supervisory economic assistant, Bureau of Labor Statistics; Mary Parran, economist, Bureau of Labor Statistics; and Thomas Joyce, unemployment insurance program specialist, Employment and Training Administration. Four attended the Secretary's Honor Awards on May 9 and were recognized for their achievements. In a surprise appearance, "President Taft" of the Washington Nationals baseball team ran over to the Frances Perkins Building to congratulate honorees. He has an historical interest in DOL: 100 years ago, the 27th U.S. president, William Howard Taft, signed legislation creating the Department of Labor.

Read the President's Letter

Centennial Year Honors

The 2013 Secretary's Honor Awards. Click to view a larger photo.

With a bow to the old and the new, the department on May 9 honored the service and dedication of its employees at the 2013 Secretary's Honor Awards, held in the Great Hall of the Frances Perkins Building. The Honor Awards are the highest level of recognition used to acknowledge department employees whose work and accomplishments achieve an outstanding level and demonstrate excellence in promoting the department's mission and goals. Job Corps students and instructors from Northlands, Vt., and Clearfield, Utah, used recycling and sustainability as motifs in creating the award design. The award features an aluminum medallion hung from a metal "C" hook embedded into a wooden base with a matching centennial face plate. Northland students were able to address the audience via Skype, and acting Secretary Harris and agency heads recorded congratulatory videos to employees. Invoking the department's centennial, Carl Fillichio, senior advisor for communications and public affairs, invited employees to have their pictures taken with life-size cardboard cutouts of the first labor secretary, William Wilson, and the first woman appointed to the Cabinet, Frances Perkins.

Read the News Release

DOL Working for You

Veterans Program Creates Path to Job and Homeownership

Ken Harris. Click for larger image.

Army veteran Ken Harris' life turned around when he enrolled in the department's Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program, administered through All Faith Consortium of Washington, D.C. All Faith provided Harris, who had made what he calls "unpopular life choices," with career counseling and helped him search for employment. The program also "helped me focus on my strengths and showed me how to utilize resources that were available to me," Harris said. He eventually worked at three jobs, which reduced his personal debt. The steady incomes and a personal savings plan helped Harris improve his credit score. His applications for home ownership loans provided by a nonprofit and a bank were approved. All Faith then helped Harris enroll in a Habitat for Humanity program, allowing Harris to be part of the building of the home he would eventually own. "I never felt pride like this before," said Harris, who moved into his home in March.

DOL in Action

Staffing Agency to Pay $1.9 Million in Back Wages in 3 States

Hutco Inc., a major industrial services employment agency, has agreed to pay $1.9 million in back wages to 2,267 employees assigned to client work sites throughout Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. An investigation of the company's headquarters in Lafayette, La., disclosed systemic overtime violations throughout six branch establishments. Hutco mischaracterized certain wages as "per diem" payments and impermissibly excluded these wages when calculating overtime premiums, denying employees earned overtime compensation. This improper pay practice also resulted in Fair Labor Standards Act record-keeping violations involving the accuracy of employees' wages and actual hours worked.

Read the News Release

Recurring Hazards Found at Maine Sawmill

A Jefferson, Maine, sawmill faces $79,310 in proposed fines following an inspection by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. OSHA found N.C. Hunt Inc. employees exposed to being struck by log carriages due to a lack of energy control procedures, barriers and warning signage as well as falls from elevated walkways that lacked required guardrails. OSHA cited the sawmill for similar violations in 2009. Additional hazards identified during the latest inspection include using an industrial work truck with a defective emergency brake, lack of machine guarding, an ungrounded extension cord and incomplete energy control procedures.

Read the News Release

Compliance Initiative to Focus on Crop Harvests in Illinois, Missouri

An initiative focusing on hand-harvested crops in Illinois and Missouri has been launched by the Wage and Hour Division. The intent is to protect agricultural workers against violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act, H-2A Visa Program, the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act and the Field Sanitation Standards under the Occupational Safety and Health Act. The initiative will focus on growers, farm labor contractors, agricultural brokers and processors to affect industry-wide compliance through enforcement and education. Between fiscal year 2010 and fiscal year 2012, the division's St. Louis District Office conducted 98 investigations in the agricultural industry, resulting in more than $100,000 in back wages for 228 employees. These investigations also resulted in the assessment of more than $80,000 in civil money penalties.

Read the News Release

Settlement Reached in Oklahoma Mining Death

U.S. Lime Co., which operates St. Clair Mine in Marble City, Okla., agreed to pay $211,002 in penalties following the May 2010 death of a maintenance manager. Federal investigators with the Mine Safety and Health Administration determined that the miner was fatally injured while in a roller mill that was not properly locked out and de-energized. The settlement involved 39 citations and orders issued in the wake of the accident and during subsequent mine inspections.

Read the News Release

Kentucky Cable Installer to Pay $1 Million in Back Wages and Damages

A consent judgment ordering Bowlin Group LLC and Bowlin Services LLC to pay 196 employees a total of $1,075,000 in back wages and liquidated damages has been obtained by the department . The judgment resolves an investigation conducted by the Wage and Hour Division's Louisville District Office which found that the defendants misclassified 77 employees as independent contractors and violated the Fair Labor Standards Act by denying those workers and others overtime compensation and failing to maintain accurate payroll records. The judgment also permanently enjoins the defendants, as well as former Bowlin Group Vice President James "Jay" Martin, from violating the FLSA in the future. Bowlin Group LLC maintains its principal office in Walton, Ky., and operates five subsidiaries throughout Ohio and Kentucky.

Read the News Release

Texas Propane Supplier Exposed Workers to Safety Hazards

AmeriGas Propane L.P. has been cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration with 21 serious violations following a November 2012 fire that required three workers to be hospitalized and four workers to be treated. The Conroe plant inspection was expanded to include the National Emphasis Program on covered chemical facilities. The serious violations included failing to compile process safety information for safety systems, such as emergency shutdowns. Penalties of $105,000 have been proposed.

Read the News Release

Temporary Restraining Order Protects Workers in Oregon Case

The Office of the Solicitor has obtained a temporary restraining order against a Portland, Ore., businessman and several affiliated corporate entities. The order, signed May 2, grants the department's request to prohibit David Emami, acting on behalf of Oak Grove Cinemas Inc., Barrington Management LLC and Barrington Venture LLC, from retaliating or threatening retaliation against employees who cooperate with an investigation by the Wage and Hour Division into possible violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The FLSA includes provision 15(a)3 protecting employees' right to speak with a Labor Department official, and to be free from coercion, retaliation or threats of retaliation or intimidation regarding an investigation, litigation or work conditions. Significantly, the order requires Emami, or an official from the department, to read a strongly worded statement to his employees telling them that they are entitled to speak to department investigators without fear of retaliation.

Read the Order

Miner Awarded $115,000 in Discrimination Case

An electrician who worked at the New Elk Mine in Trinidad, Colo., has been awarded an $115,000 settlement following a discrimination complaint he filed with the Mine Safety and Health Administration. In April 2012, the miner contacted MSHA about hazardous conditions along a beltline that he claimed were not being properly addressed by his supervisors. MSHA issued several citations to the mine the following day and, not long after, the miner was terminated. "All miners, supervisors and contractors have the right to identify hazardous conditions and refuse unsafe work without fear of discrimination or retaliation," said Assistant Secretary of Labor Joseph Main, the head of MSHA.

Read the News Release

Georgia Rug Manufacturer Faces Fines for Safety Violations

Garland Sales Inc. in Dalton, Ga., a manufacturer of carpets and rugs, has been cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration with 15 serious safety violations. The citations followed an inspection that was conducted as a part of OSHA's national emphasis program on amputations. Violations include exposing workers to electric shock, caught-in and struck-by hazards, failing to establish or implement a lockout/tagout program and allowing workers to operate a forklift without proper training or certification. Fines of $73,000 have been proposed.

Read the News Release

Colorado Dairy Foods Cited for Workplace Violations

Sinton Dairy Foods Co. Inc. in Colorado Springs has been cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for 14 violations. An inspection was conducted under OSHA's Site Specific Targeting Program for workplaces where high injury and illness rates occur and the National Emphasis Program on facilities, covered under the Process Safety Management of Highly Hazardous Chemicals. Violations included deficiencies in the mechanical integrity of equipment, which could lead to the release of ammonia. Penalties of $74,610 have been proposed.

Read the News Release

New Election at Hawaii Longshore Union

International Longshore Workers Union Local 142, a Honolulu-based union representing more than 16,000 members throughout Hawaii, has voluntarily agreed to conduct a new election for Kauai Division business agent. An Office of Labor-Management Standards investigation established that a candidate for business agent in the union's November 2012 officer election improperly campaigned on company time and property, and inappropriately used company bulletin boards for campaign purposes. The new election, under OLMS supervision, will be completed by the end of September.

Company Failed to Protect Workers in Trench, Inspection Finds

Joel Kennedy Constructing Corp. in Waukegan, Ill., has been cited for five safety violations, including one willful, for failing to protect workers from cave-ins during trenching operations. The inspection was initiated under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration national emphasis program for trenching and excavation after an OSHA inspector witnessed apparent cave-in hazards at a construction site in Chicago. Penalties of $72,380 have been proposed. The willful violation involves failing to provide cave-in protection to workers installing a valve vault for a water main in a trench approximately 8 feet deep.

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Tenneco Automotive Faces Fines for Violations at Georgia Plant

Tenneco Automotive Operating Co. has been cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration with13 safety and health violations following an inspection at its manufacturing facility in Hartwell, Ga. One repeat safety violation involves failing to reduce the pressure in a compressed air device to less than 30 pounds per square inch when using it for cleaning. Nine serious and three other-than-serious violations include exposing workers to burn hazards due to the accumulation of combustible dust, failing to provide face shields and chemical goggles for employees working with corrosive materials and multiple instances of inadequate machine guarding. Proposed fines total $62,000. Tenneco Automotive Co. is a division of Tenneco, a global transportation components manufacturer with more than 80 facilities on six continents.

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