United States Department of Labor

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May 22, 2014
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By The Numbers By The Numbers: In 2012, there were 31 worker deaths and 4,120 illnesses due to heat.

Workplace Wage Myth Buster

Myth: Paid leave policies are expensive and ineffective.

Not true: Research on existing paid leave programs suggests that it has negligible costs to employers and potential gains in terms of employee morale and productivity. Nearly every country in the world provides paid family leave, but women in the U.S. get paid family leave benefits only if they work in a state or for a company that provides those benefits. In fact, the U.S. is the only industrialized nation in the world that doesn't mandate paid leave for new parents — a distinction it shares with Oman and Papua New Guinea.

Read About the Summit on Working Families
Read ILO Report on Parental Leave

Work In Progress: The Best of Our Blog

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

Expanding Opportunity for AAPI Communities Through Education: Deputy Secretary of Labor Christopher P. Lu breaks down department data on educational attainment among Asian American and Pacific Islander communities and calls for renewed efforts to do everything we can to ensure that everyone in this community is able to access the American Dream.

Job Clubs Under the Microscope: Ben Seigel, deputy director for the Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships and a senior policy advisor in the Employment and Training Administration, presents the findings of a new report on job clubs from the department's Chief Evaluation Office.

Expect. Employ. Empower.: These three words, which represent the theme of this year's National Disability Employment Awareness Month, clearly convey that advancing disability employment is about creating a cycle of inclusion, writes Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy Kathy Martinez.

Books that Shaped Work in America

Honoring a Civil Rights Pioneer

On what would have been his 84th birthday, Harvey Milk was honored at the White House with a U.S. postage stamp bearing his image. It is the first stamp to feature an openly gay individual. President Obama honored Milk with a posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009 for his courageous work organizing for gay communities in San Francisco. He won elected office on the city's Board of Supervisors in 1978. Randy Shilts' 1982 biography of Milk, "The Mayor of Castro Street: The Life and Times of Harvey Milk," is featured on the department's Books that Shaped Work in America list. Writing about the book, Carl Fillichio, the head of the Office of Public Affairs, who attended the White House stamp dedication, explains Milk's influence on the workplace. "Milk's story showed me and millions like me that staying true to who we are leads to greater success than conforming to others' expectations," he wrote.

Read the Blog Post
Books that Shaped Work in America

DOL A to Z

This week's phrase is Multiemployer Plans. These are employee benefit plans jointly run by employers and unions and funded through collective bargaining agreements. These plans help small businesses lower costs and allow workers to keep their benefits as they move from one employer to another.

Learn About Multiemployer Plans
See All the A-Z terms

New Englanders Have Their Say

Women's Bureau Director Latifa Lyles welcomes the attendees at the White House Summit on Working Families Massachusetts Regional Forum in the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center in Cambridge, Mass. Photos by Katherine Taylor for U.S. Department of Labor. View the slideshow for more images and captions.

The issue of working families can pack a room in Massachusetts. About 300 New Englanders met in Cambridge on May 19 for a forum on working families, one of five regional forums leading up to the June 23 White House Summit on Working Families. Speakers included Betsey Stevenson of the President's Council on Economic Advisers, Women's Bureau Director Latifa Lyles, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Reps. Rosa DeLauro and Katherine Clark. Each spoke of the long-standing need to address pay inequity, provide paid sick leave and embrace family, employer and economy friendly policies. Lyles said: "Removing the barriers that keep our best talent from participating fully in our workforce is key to ensuring that all American businesses can compete in the 21st century." Attendees heard from a small business owner who has successfully implemented such policies and a Rhode Island legislator who championed the passage of temporary caregiver insurance.

Learn More About the Summit
View the Slideshow
Watch the Video Excerpt

Women's Economic Success

Wage and Hour Division Deputy Administrator Laura A. Fortman participated on a panel focused on women and working families at The Aspen Institute's 'Opportunities to Advance Women's Mobility in the U.S.' Click for a larger photo.

Among the panelists at the Aspen Institute's "Opportunities to Advance Women's Mobility in the United States" was Laura A. Fortman, the Wage and Hour Division's deputy administrator. Fortman participated in the May 19 panel discussion in Washington, D.C., "Emerging Policy Levers to Move Women toward Opportunity," where she focused on women and working families. "Events of this nature are critical in driving the conversation around women's economic security, how to achieve progress on long-standing policy needs, and creating momentum for new opportunities," said Fortman. Her remarks highlighted enforcement efforts on behalf of at-risk workers, partnerships with communities and employers, and the agency's work on raising the minimum wage, home care, the Family and Medical Leave Act, and rest breaks for nursing mothers.

Facebook Q&A on Equal Pay

In his first live Facebook chat, Secretary Perez will be taking questions on May 27, at 2:15 p.m. EDT, on equal pay, the importance of increasing the minimum wage, and ensuring our workforce has the skills to succeed. To participate, follow him on Facebook and leave a comment on his page during the chat.

Visit the Secretary's Facebook Page

Play Ball! for All

Kathy Martinez and Richie Bancells pose with Mike Rizzo after the signing. View the slideshow for more images and captions.

Baseball requires a wide range of skills, and they're not all displayed on the diamond. At the Washington Nationals' ballpark on May 19, the Office of Disability Employment Policy signed an alliance agreement with the Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Society to promote employment and inclusion for people with disabilities in the workforce. Citing the contributions of ballplayers like Jim Abbott, Assistant Secretary of Labor Kathy Martinez and PBATS President Richie Bancells expressed their enthusiasm for helping people with disabilities enter the workforce, on the field and off. "Whether on the field or in the workplace, it's what people can do that matters," said Martinez. "People with disabilities can work, and people with disabilities should work. That should be the expectation."

Read the News Release
Read the Blog Post
View the Alliance
View the Slideshow

Banishing Payroll Nightmares

Wage and Hour Division Assistant Administrator for Policy Michael Hancock addresses the closing session of the 32nd American Payroll Association Congress. Click for a larger photo.

More than 2,000 people garnered best practices for managing payrolls and staying in compliance with regulations at the 32nd Annual Congress of the American Payroll Association in Minneapolis. The four-day event, entitled "Banish Your Payroll Nightmares," featured more than 200 workshops catering to payroll and accounts payable professionals. During the closing session on May 16, Wage and Hour Division Assistant Administrator for Policy Michael Hancock discussed regulatory work, strategic enforcement, and increased efforts in outreach and education to employer and worker communities. Hancock described how the changing nature of business in the 21st century has resulted in changes in enforcement practices. "Businesses are no longer only the traditional brick-and-mortar companies that operated when labor laws were first passed," he said. "Educating employers and associations like the APA is critical in providing information to promote compliance in the 21st century workplace."

Testing Mine Rescue Skills

A mine rescue team member places a breathing apparatus on an 'injured' miner. View the slideshow for more images and captions.

The National Mine Health and Safety Academy in Beaver, W.Va., played host to the 2014 West Virginia Alliance Mine Rescue Skills Competition May 13-15. Thirty-seven teams representing coal mines from throughout the region participated in the annual event that tests a variety of critical skills team members need if they are tapped to respond to an actual mine emergency. This year's competition was broken down into four blocks of skills training: mine rescue ventilation and exploration, mine rescue smoke exploration, firefighting, and mine rescue support.

View the Slideshow

Disability Employment Networking

Kathy Martinez poses with Harry Leaver (left), executive director of the Center for Business and Enterprise at Saginaw Valley State University, and Greg Purtell (right), vice president of human resources at McLaren Health. Click for a larger photo.

The opportunity to learn about new rules for improving disability employment drew members of the Great Lakes Business Leadership Network to a breakfast on May 21 with Kathy Martinez, assistant secretary of labor for disability employment policy. Martinez spoke about the new regulations and shared a variety of best practices for compliance. She thanked the group for their participation, saying, "It demonstrates that all of you are committed to learning more about these game-changing updates, and ways to make them work for everyone, including you as employers." Martinez referenced a range of department tools and resources that can assist employers in achieving the goals of the new rules, which encourage federal contractors to enhance disability employment hiring efforts.

Read the Regulation
Learn About the Job Accommodation Network
Learn About the Employer Assistance and Resource Network
Use the Workplace Flexibility Toolkit

Focusing on Temporary Workers

Temporary workers are among the most vulnerable in the American workforce, prompting the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the American Staffing Association to sign an alliance to further protect workers no matter how long they have been on the job. Through the alliance, signed on May 21, OSHA and ASA will conduct outreach to temporary employees about their rights, and work to educate staffing firms and their clients on their responsibilities to workplace safety and health. With more than 1,600 members, the ASA represents the U.S. staffing, recruiting and workforce solutions industry. "Through this alliance with the ASA, we will increase outreach to staffing agencies and host employers and provide information and education that is vital to protecting temporary workers," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels.

Read About OSHA's Alliance Program
Learn About ASA
Learn About Temporary Worker Initiative

Feedback on Disability Employment

The Circle is a group of businesses and organizations previously recognized by the department for innovative and proactive efforts to recruit, hire and promote people with disabilities. Approximately 40 members gathered on May 20 in Alexandria, Va., to exchange best practices in employing people with disabilities. Convened periodically by the Office of Disability Employment Policy's National Employer Technical Assistance Center, Circle members provide real-time feedback about employers' needs for technical assistance in this area. Assistant Secretary of Labor Kathy Martinez thanked the group for its continued leadership, saying, "I don't have to explain to you that a strong workforce is an inclusive workforce, because you already know." The meeting was held at the headquarters of the U.S. Business Leadership Network.

Learn About USBLN

Promoting Partnerships

Eric Seleznow, deputy assistant secretary of labor for employment and training, provided the keynote address at Colorado Sectors Summit II on May 20, in Denver, Colo. Click for a larger photo.

Eric Seleznow, deputy assistant secretary of labor for employment and training, delivered the keynote address at Colorado Sectors Summit II on May 20 in Denver. Hosted by the Colorado Workforce Development Council, the summit is building on the state's ongoing work to support sector partnerships — industry-specific collaborations among regional economic development, education and workforce development organizations. Its theme, "Growing the Talent Pipeline," focused on developing industry-driven career pathways by continuing to grow and expand sector partnerships across Colorado. "Expanding these industry-focused partnerships will help businesses find the skilled workers they need and offer individuals the opportunity to acquire in-demand skills," said Seleznow.

Coal Dust Rule Outreach

Hundreds of miners and mine operators gather in Hazard, Ky., for a stakeholders meeting on implementation of the recently finalized coal mine dust rule. Click for a larger photo.

Drawing a collective audience of more than 400 people in Hazard, Ky., and Washington, Pa., the Mine Safety and Health Administration continued its series of stakeholder meetings for the mining industry on May 20 and 22. These one-day workshops, being held in six coal mining regions around the country, are geared toward educating mine operators and miners on the recently finalized rule to lower miners' exposure to respirable coal mine dust. The rule goes into effect on Aug. 1, and represents MSHA's continuing efforts to end black lung disease among the nation's coal miners.

ERISA Council Meeting in June

The department's Advisory Council on Employee Welfare and Pension Benefit Plans, also known as the Employment Retirement Income Security Act Advisory Council, meets at least four times a year to discuss issues related to the law. On May 19, the department announced that the council's next meeting will be June 17-19 in Washington, D.C. Council members will hear testimony from invited witnesses and receive an update from Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employee Benefits Security Phyllis C. Borzi. Topics under consideration include issues related to facilitating lifetime plan participation, outsourcing employee benefit plan services, and compensation and fee disclosure for pharmacy benefits managers. The meeting is open to the public.

Read the News Release

Oregon Forum on Apprenticeship

Betty Lock (center), Region 10 administrator for the Women's Bureau with apprentices in the highway and bridge construction field who completed pre-apprenticeship training through Oregon Tradeswomen, Inc.'s Pathways to Success program. Click for a larger photo.

Women who work in highway and bridge construction joined with apprentices at a Women's Bureau's Seattle Regional Office roundtable during the Portland Women in Transportation Conference on May 16 in Portland, Ore. The roundtable was part of an effort to learn more about women entering into apprenticeships for nontraditional occupations. During the roundtable, Seattle Regional Administrator for the Women's Bureau Betty Lock talked with the women about their motivation to enter into an apprenticeship in the transportation industry, as well as their experiences in the field.

Weekly UI Claims

The department reported that the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial Unemployment Insurance claims was 326,000 for the week ending May 17, an increase of 28,000 from the previous week's revised level. The four-week moving average was 322,500, down 1,000 from the previous week's revised average.

Read the News Release

Calendar Highlight

Free FLSA Training in Connecticut

The Wage and Hour Division will offer a compliance seminar for employers, community rehabilitation programs and other stakeholders on the rules governing the payment of workers with disabilities under Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The free seminar will be held June 5 at the Western Connecticut State University in Danbury, Conn. Guardians and family members of workers with disabilities are encouraged to attend.

Read the News Release
Register for the Seminar

Upcoming Deadlines & Events

Open Funding Opportunities

EBSA — Getting It Right: Know Your Fiduciary Responsibilities Seminar

June 3 — Hartford, CT
June 17 — Germantown, TN

EBSA — Health Benefits Laws Compliance Assistance Seminar

May 29 — Richmond, VA
June 17 — Denver, CO
June 18 — Denver, CO

MSHA — Stakeholder Meeting on Coal Dust Rule

May 29 — Evansville, IN

OFCCP — Affirmative Action Programs: Creating an Inclusive Workplace

May 29 — Richmond, VA
June 17 — Birmingham, AL
June 17 — Jackson, MS

OFCCP — AHEAD: Alliances Helping Employers Achieve Diversity Syposium and Job Fair

May 23 — San Antonio, TX

OFCCP — Construction Compliance Evaluations in 16 Steps

May 27 — Atlanta, GA

OFCCP — Everything You Want to Know About Adverse Impact

June 11 — Orange, CA

OFCCP — Good Faith Efforts, Exceptional Results

June 5 — Omaha, NE

OFCCP — Introduction to the New Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act Regulations

June 4 — Portland, OR

OFCCP — Introduction to the New VEVRAA Act of 1974 Regulations

June 5 — Memphis, TN
June 11 — Portland, OR
June 11 — Dallas, TX

OFCCP — What to Expect During an OFCCP Audit

June 10 — Houston, TX
June 17 — Atlanta, GA

WHD — Emphasis on wage requirements for workers under Section 14(c) of the FLSA Seminar

June 5 — Danbury, CT
June 11 — Santa Fe, NM

WHD — Prevailing Wage Seminar

June 3 — Atlanta, GA
June 4 — Atlanta, GA
June 5 — Atlanta, GA

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What's New

Strengthening Skills in the Land of 10,000 Lakes

Secretary Perez stops to take a photo with Mayor Coleman and William Toney, a St. Paul Public School Youth Career Connect Student. View the slideshow for more images and captions.

For students in St. Paul, Minn., getting on the right track to a career in growing local industries starts early. Thanks to a $3.6 million Youth CareerConnect grant, the city's existing Right Track summer youth employment program is partnering with St. Paul public schools and St. Paul College to create two new career academies in information technology and finance for grades 9-12. U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez visited the campus of St. Paul College along with Mayor Chris Coleman recently to learn more about the program and discuss with employers and educators this unique approach to strengthening the local workforce. Perez also visited an American Job Center in Burnsville, Minn., where a strong collaboration between the local workforce system and two- and four-year colleges is helping build the skills of job seekers to meet employer needs. The colleges offer evening and weekend classes to better serve job seekers, while participants can access a full suite of employment and training services to help connect them with local employers. Burnsville Mayor Elizabeth Kautz and Katie Clark Sieben, commissioner of the Department of Employment and Economic Development, joined Perez at the center for a discussion of the state's job-driven training strategies.

View the Slideshow
Learn About Local Job Training

Chuck & Don's Makes Pets — and Employees — Happy

Employees of Chuck and Don's explain why they like working at Chuck and Don's. View the slideshow for more images and captions.

Inspired by President Obama's call to raise the federal minimum wage, many states, cities and businesses around the country have taken action to raise wages. The operators of Chuck & Don's pet stores in Minnesota and Colorado have moved in that direction, guaranteeing a starting wage of $10.10 per hour for their workforce, which includes 142 full-time and 153 part-time employees across 25 stores. On May 16, Secretary Perez joined Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges for a visit to the company's Lake Street store in Minneapolis, where he stated that "business owners see this is not just the right thing to do for their employees, but it's the smart thing to do for their bottom line. It increases morale and productivity, it improves customer service, and it cuts down on turnover and training costs." Perez was also joined by Rep. Keith Ellison and State Rep. Ryan Winkler.

View the Slideshow

Underscoring the Importance of Apprenticeships

Left to Right: Tahzay McJeeters, an apprentice painter with the Philadelphia Housing Authority, Michael Schurr, FTI education director and Natalie Holzer, 2nd year painter apprentice and Roneesha Williams, Philadelphia Housing Authority student, assist Secretary Perez while he uses a virtual reality painting machine. View the slideshow for more images and captions.

"We have to let our parents and teachers know there is a bright future for people who work with their hands." Secretary Perez offered those encouraging words to a group of future tradesmen and woman, when he traveled to Philadelphia on May 21 to learn more about an innovative apprenticeship program within the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades — District Council 21. Sandwiched between a meeting with staff members from the department's Philadelphia Region and the commencement address he delivered to the graduating class of Drexel University's School of Law, Perez toured the Finishing Trades Institute of the Mid-Atlantic Region training facility in Northeast Philadelphia. The FTI represents commercial painters, drywall finishers, glaziers, glassworkers, industrial painters, wall coverers and multi-craft decorators. Perez met with apprentices, as well as labor and industry leaders, to highlight how partnerships like this are connecting ready-to-work Americans with ready-to-be-filled jobs.

View the Slideshow

A Message for Graduates: Take Risks, Don't Fear Failure

Secretary Perez speaks at the University of Baltimore commencement ceremony. Click for a larger photo.

It's graduation season, and Secretary Perez has been invited to speak at commencement ceremonies at a number of institutions around the country. In his remarks, Perez advised graduates that, in order to truly succeed, be willing to take calculated risks, and don't be afraid of failure. Noting that our nation faces daunting challenges, he encouraged graduates to use their education to expand opportunity and advance justice. "It's your turn to do your part to ensure an opportunity society — one where every person has a chance to realize their highest and best dreams," he said. "It's your turn, as you travel forth and build successful careers, to ensure the ladder is down for everyone. As you climb the ladder yourselves, it's your turn to reach back and give a hand up to others who, like you, are willing to work hard to get a piece of the American dream, but could use a little help reaching the next rung."

National News

Annual Campaign to Prevent Heat Illness Is Underway

Water. Rest. Shade.  The work can't get done without them. Read the News Release.

In preparation for Memorial Day weekend and the unofficial start of summer, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is kicking off its annual Campaign to Prevent Heat Illness in Outdoor Workers. Thousands of employees become sick each year and many die from working in the heat. Heat illness most affects those who have not built up a tolerance to heat and is especially dangerous for new and temporary workers in industries such as agriculture, construction and transportation. The campaign aims to raise awareness and educate workers and employers about the dangers of working in hot weather and provide resources and guidance to address these hazards. "Employers have a responsibility to provide workplaces that are safe from recognized hazards, including outdoor heat," said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. "By taking early and quick action, and incorporating safeguards such as water, rest and shade into our workplaces, we can prevent heat illness and save lives." OSHA is partnering with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to incorporate worker safety precautions when heat alerts are issued across the nation.

Read the News Release
Download the OSHA Heat App

International Scene

Reaffirming a Commitment to ILO Efforts

Secretary Perez and Deputy Undersecretary Pier at a meeting of the President's Committee on the International Labour Organization View the slideshow for more images and captions.

The President's Committee on the International Labour Organization is a body created in 1980 to help formulate and coordinate U.S. policy toward and participation in the ILO. At its meeting on May 15, Secretary Perez reaffirmed the U.S. government's commitment to the ILO and its efforts to promote freedom of association, eliminate child labor and forced labor, fight discrimination, and help create high-quality employment opportunities. His principal message was that the United States should vigorously pursue ratification of Convention 111 on Discrimination in Employment and Occupation. Doing so, he said, "would send a powerful signal to the international community about the United States' unswerving commitment to eliminating discrimination wherever it exists." His message was strongly endorsed by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and U.S. Council for International Business President Peter Robinson. Among its conclusions, the committee pledged to "redouble its efforts toward the early and successful completion of the ratification process for ILO Convention 111."

View the Slideshow

ILO Report Calculates 'Profits and Poverty' of Forced Labor

A report by the International Labour Organization, with funding support from the Bureau of International Labor Affairs, provides a new estimate of the ill-gotten profits derived from forced labor around the globe. According to the report, a staggering $150 billion in profits annually is generated by private parties worldwide. Associate Deputy Undersecretary for International Labor Affairs Eric Biel praised the work of the ILO's Special Action Program on Forced Labor at an event hosted by Georgetown University Law Center and the ILO. Biel called the report and ongoing research "absolutely fundamental to our work. The combination of improved data collection and reporting, and the efforts to strengthen international standards, can put all of us in a better position to combat forced labor more effectively," Biel said.

Read the ILO Report

Around DOL

Training for Migrant and Farmworker Monitor Advocates

Portia Wu, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employment and Training

The Employment and Training Administration hosted its first Migrant and Seasonal Farmworker Monitor Advocate training program in Washington, D.C., on May 20. The Monitor Advocate program is a network of outreach specialists who assist migrant and seasonal farmworkers to access employment services available through the public workforce system. The training session brought together approximately 70 representatives from around the country to share best practices on improving outreach to this community; better integrate federal, state and local services; and improve the enforcement of farmworker rights and protections. Portia Wu, assistant secretary of labor for employment and training, opened the session by thanking the monitor advocates for their important work. She also talked about how the increased collaboration with the Wage and Hour Division and Occupational Safety and Health Administration is helping to ensure migrant and seasonal farmworkers are getting the protections and services they need to be treated fairly and be safe in the workplace.

DOL Working for You

Job Corps Grad Keeps Trains Rolling On Time

William Agurs. Click for a larger photo.

Commuters who ride Amtrak's Eastern railroad corridor arrive safely and on time, thanks to employees like William Agurs, a Job Corps graduate. Agurs works for Amtrak as a block operator, the person in charge of trains that originate or terminate at a rail yard. "It is an important job," he said, with responsibilities ranging from overseeing moving rail equipment destined for repair to tracking signal coordination with computers. Agurs graduated in facilities management from the Delaware Valley Job Corps Center in New York. He then enrolled in and graduated from the Transportation Communications Union/International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Advanced Training Program at Potomac Job Corps in Washington, D.C., where he studied rail safety, mechanical skills, welding, hazardous materials handling and computer database operations.

DOL in Action

Spike in Mining Deaths Addressed

More than 250 representatives of the metal and nonmetal mining industry participated in a conference call on May 22 with the Mine Safety and Health Administration. MSHA, concerned about the recent spike in mining deaths, invited industry professionals to join in a telephone discussion about how the agency and industry can work together to prevent future serious mine accidents. Of the 20 most recent deaths in metal and nonmetal mining, six of the victims were supervisors. That's unacceptable, according to Neal Merrifield, administrator for metal and nonmetal mine safety and health. "These are the people who are supposed to set the example of safe work practices," he said. The meeting, kicked off by Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health Joseph A. Main, came three weeks after a mine safety summit held at agency headquarters in Arlington, Va.

Grant to Provide Clean-up, Recovery After Mississippi Storms

A $5,599,860 National Emergency Grant award to assist with the cleanup and recovery efforts resulting from severe storms, tornadoes and flooding in Mississippi has been announced by the department. "The damage and destruction from this storm system was as severe as it was widespread," said Secretary Perez. "The resources that the state requires to respond to the storms include workers to assist in the recovery, and the Labor Department's funds will help meet those needs." Workers dislocated as a result of the disastrous weather, as well as the long-term unemployed and other dislocated workers, are eligible to be placed in temporary cleanup and recovery jobs.

Read the News Release

Assistance for Displaced International Paper Co. Workers in Alabama

The department has announced a $1,816,666 National Emergency Grant to assist approximately 450 workers affected by the closure of International Paper Co.'s facility in Courtland, Ala. "When an employer like the International Paper facility in Courtland closes, it impacts workers, families and communities," said Secretary Perez. "This federal National Emergency Grant offers assistance to lessen these negative effects by providing individuals with the opportunity to gain the skills needed for new careers in high-demand occupations." The grant, awarded to the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs, will be used to provide the workers with the training and case management services they need to successfully find employment in their area.

Read the News Release

Blocked Exits Found at Manhattan Fashion Company

A Manhattan-based women's jewelry and accessories maker faces $47,600 in proposed penalties from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for numerous safety hazards at its West 35th Street location. In response to a complaint alleging unsafe workplace conditions, Natasha Accessories Ltd. was cited for 11 safety violations for blocked exits, missing or unlit exit signs, obstructed sprinkler heads and unsafely stacked boxes. Some of the hazards were similar to those cited during a 2011 OSHA inspection. "Worker safety is paramount. Blocked exits, missing or unlit exit signs and obstructed sprinkler heads are serious, even potentially deadly hazards. During an emergency, such as a fire, a clear and well-labeled exit route could mean the difference between life and death for employees," said Kay Gee, OSHA's area director for Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens.

Read the News Release

Texas Tortilla Maker Exposed Workers to Hazards

Tortillas Ricas LP, doing business as Casa Rica Tortillas, has been cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for 13 serious safety and health violations with proposed fines of $48,300. OSHA cited the corn and tortilla manufacturer for exposing workers to unguarded machines and electrical hazards and for failing to implement lockout/tagout procedures to protect workers who service or maintain machines. OSHA initiated the February 2013 inspection at the company's Plainview, Texas, facility under its National Emphasis Program on combustible dust. OSHA inspectors found that the employer did not provide adequate safety training for employees working with hazardous chemicals and failed to control combustible dust.

Read the News Release

Detroit Marine Dock Company Cited After Worker Fatally Hit by Forklift

Following the death of a worker who was hit by a forklift, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited Nicholson Terminal & Dock Co. with nine safety violations — two willful and seven serious. The incident occurred in November 2013 at the Detroit marine terminal, when the worker was struck by a forklift carrying a 40,000-pound steel coil. OSHA has placed the company in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program. Willful citations were issued for modifying a forklift without obtaining manufacturer approval and failing to establish vehicle routes, traffic rules and to post signs indicating pedestrian traffic where employees work.

Read the News Release

Safety Partnership in Arkansas

The health and safety of workers during the construction of Arkansas State University's student activity center in Jonesboro, Ark., is the goal of a new strategic partnership formed between the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and general contractor VCC LLC. OSHA and VCC will work to reduce serious workplace injuries and illnesses, increase the number of safety and health programs among contractors and subcontractor, and build a relationship focused on preventing work-related fatalities. OSHA's Strategic Partnership Program helps encourage, assist and recognize the effort of partners to eliminate serious workplace hazards and achieve a high level of worker safety and health.

Read the News Release

Wisconsin Workers Exposed to Toxic Substances

Power Coatings LLC, a company that specializes in powder coating metal parts, has been cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for 14 serious safety violations, including failure to protect workers from toxic substances, which can cause cancer, lung impairment and other diseases. OSHA has proposed penalties of $51,800 following a December 2013 complaint inspection of Power Coatings' Janesville, Wis., facility. The serious safety violations included failure to conduct a personal protective equipment hazard assessment and provide and require the use of personal protective equipment for skin and eye hazards from methyl ethyl ketone vapors and powder coating dust.

Read the News Release

Massachusetts Workers Hit by Layoffs to Receive Job Assistance

Approximately 120 workers affected by layoffs at four companies in Middlesex County, Mass., will receive assistance through a National Emergency Grant of $876,300. "Many of the affected workers will now need to pursue new certifications or training to find employment in today's competitive economy," said Secretary Perez. "This grant will provide these workers the services they need to find a new career in the expanding sectors of advanced manufacturing, health care and information technology." The grant, awarded to Massachusetts's Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development, will provide intensive employment services to the workers affected by the layoffs.

Read the News Release

Dangerous Silica Dust Levels Found at Nebraska Stone-Cutting Facility

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration fined Baltazar's Stone Inc. $40,921 for exposing workers to dangerous silica dust levels and other hazards at the Omaha, Neb., stone-cutting facility. Silica exposure can cause silicosis, an irreversible lung disease, and other health hazards. OSHA began the inspection last November after receiving a complaint. The inspection resulted in 15 violations, which included allowing three stonecutters to be exposed to silica at levels nearly three times the permissible exposure limit for a work shift, failure to implement administrative and engineering controls to reduce exposure, and failure to train workers on silica hazards.

Read the News Release

3-D Printing Company Failed to Prevent Fire, Explosion Hazards

Following a November explosion and fire at Powderpart Inc., in Woburn, Mass., the Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited the 3-D printing company for willful and serious violations of workplace safety standards. OSHA's inspection found the company failed to protect its workforce from the fire and explosion hazards of reactive, combustible metal powders, such as titanium and aluminum alloys, which are used in the company's three-dimensional printing process. Powderpart failed to eliminate known sources of potential ignition and follow pertinent instructions from equipment manufacturers, and did not alert the Woburn Fire Department to the workplace presence of hazardous materials. The company faces $64,400 in penalties.

Read the News Release
Learn About Combustible Hazards

Drywall Company to Pay $600,000 in Back Wages, Penalties

Paul Johnson Drywall Inc., of Prescott, Ariz., and its owner Robert Cole Johnson, have agreed to ensure that misclassification of workers does not reoccur, under a consent judgment filed in federal district court. The company agreed to pay $556,000 in overtime back wages and liquidated damages to at least 445 current and former employees, and $44,000 in penalties. Paul Johnson Drywall also agreed to implement an educational campaign to promote awareness of the importance of compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act in the Arizona residential construction industry. Beginning in April 2013, Paul Johnson Drywall entered into a contract with Arizona Tract for the provision of drywall labor. Arizona Tract classified former Paul Johnson Drywall workers as "member/owners" instead of employees, which stripped them of basic worker protections.

Read the News Release

New Nuclear Workers Cohort

Former employees of Joslyn Manufacturing and Supply Co. in Fort Wayne, Ind., are being notified of a new class of employees added to the special exposure cohort under the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act. The EEOICPA provides compensation and medical benefits to workers who became ill because of working in the nuclear weapons industry. Survivors of qualified workers may also be entitled to benefits. To date, $7.7 million in EEOICPA compensation and medical benefits has been paid to 109 Joslyn Manufacturing and Supply Co. claimants, while more than $10.4 billion has been paid nationwide.

Read the News Release
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Railroad Company to Reinstate Workers in Whistleblower Case

Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway has been ordered to pay more than $526,000 in back wages and damages to two workers following an investigation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. OSHA found that the company, based in Fort Worth, Texas, was in violation of the whistleblower provisions of the Federal Railway Safety Act for terminating the employees in 2010 and 2011 for reporting a workplace injury that occurred at the company's Havre, Mont., terminal. The former employees submitted complaints to OSHA alleging violations of the anti-retaliation provisions of the FRSA. OSHA determined that the reporting of the work-related injury was a factor in each former employee's termination, a violation of the law. Burlington Northern has been ordered to pay back wages with interest, compensatory damages and attorney's fees, while reinstating and expunging the two employees' work records.

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Silicon Valley Chip Maker Faulted for Not Paying Employees on Time

Advance Modular Technology Inc., a Silicon Valley electronic chip board manufacturing company in San Jose, Calif., failed to pay the Fair Labor Standards Act's required minimum wage and overtime premium to 15 workers. An investigation by the Wage and Hour Division found that the employer had missed payroll since February 2014. Advance Modular Technology also failed to pay required overtime for all hours worked beyond 40 in a workweek. The employer paid $54,120 in back wages due and liquidated damages to the workers. The division also is working on securing a consent judgment. "Companies need to understand the importance of paying employees on time," said Susana Blanco, the division's district director in San Francisco. "Employers also need to know that failure to pay wages can result in liquidated damages in an equal amount to the back wages found due."

Misclassified Employees to Receive Nearly $186,000

Binex Line Corp. has agreed to pay $92,864 in back wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages to 49 misclassified employees. An investigation by the Wage and Hour Division established that the Los Angeles-based freight and logistics employer willfully violated the Fair Labor Standards Act's overtime and recordkeeping provisions. Binex Line failed to pay workers the required overtime premium for hours worked beyond 40 in a workweek and improperly classified nonexempt employees as exempt from overtime pay. The division's San Francisco District Office also secured an enhanced compliance agreement with the company.

Department Sues to Reinstate Union Employee

The department has filed a lawsuit on behalf of a former Cement Masons Southern California Administrative Corp. employee who allegedly was fired for cooperating with an ongoing Employee Benefits Security Administration investigation. The suit seeks reinstatement of the individual and payment of back wages plus interest. The department alleges that, in 2011, the individual was contacted by EBSA officials during the course of an ongoing investigation into the conduct of Scott Brain, business manager for Cement Masons Local Union 600 and a trustee of the corporation. Upon learning of her contact with federal officials, the joint board of trustees voted to place the individual on administrative leave. The corporation was then dissolved, and its successor, Zenith American Solutions, failed to rehire the individual, even though it rehired everyone else in her department.

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Wage Violations Investigated on Work at Ohio Courthouse

An investigation by the Wage and Hour Division has determined that the CFP Group Inc. of McLean, Va., failed to pay $55,186 in prevailing wage rates, fringe benefits, minimum wage and overtime to 11 workers in violation of the Davis-Bacon and Related Act, the Contract Work Hours and Safety Standards Act and the Fair Labor Standards Act. The workers installed and modified fire alarm and sprinkler systems at the Joseph P. Kinneary U.S. Courthouse in Columbus, Ohio, between October 2012 and September 2013. The department filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in Columbus against CFP and its owner, Roberto Clark, alleging violations of the FLSA's minimum wage and overtime provisions.

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Suit Seeks $145,000 in Back Wages for 9 Illinois Restaurant Workers

The department has filed suit against Omega Restaurant Ltd. and its owner, James Chiampas, seeking $145,000 in unpaid wages and liquidated damages for nine employees. An investigation by the Wage and Hour Division found violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act's minimum wage, overtime and record-keeping provisions at the Lombard, Ill., restaurant. The complaint alleges that members of Omega's kitchen staff were paid a straight salary for all hours worked, which did not provide the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour to several employees.

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Oregon Realtor Must Pay $420,127 to Retirement Plan

Pursuant to a consent judgment entered into by the department, Portland-based Georgetown Realty Inc., the company's owner, John Mahaffy, and the Georgetown Realty Inc. Profit Sharing Plan and Trust, will pay $420,127 to the plan for losses due to imprudent real estate investments. An investigation by the Employee Benefits Security Administration found that Mahaffy used the plan's assets to purchase property in an effort to develop it into a resort. The project failed, the lenders foreclosed on the plan's properties in 2009 and 2010, and the plan participants lost substantial retirement assets.

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Contractors on Federal Project to Pay Workers for Wage Violations

An administrative law judge has ordered demolition contractors Enviro & Demo Masters Inc. and Gladiators Contracting Corp., to pay $656,646 to 37 workers after failing to pay them the required prevailing wage rates and fringe benefits on a federally funded construction project in New York City. An investigation by the Wage and Hour Division found that Enviro & Demo Masters also falsified certified payroll records by deliberately omitting employees from the payroll, instead listing family members who performed no work on the project and listing wage rates that were not paid to workers. They also have been ordered debarred from seeking and receiving federal contracts for three years.

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Former Union Officer Sentenced to Prison for Embezzling $152,000

Kristie McClarren, former financial secretary of United Auto Workers Local 3061 in Crestline, Ohio, recently was sentenced to 18 months of imprisonment followed by two years of supervised release, and was ordered to make full restitution in the amount of $152,639 after embezzling union funds. McClarren pleaded guilty in January to embezzlement in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio. A joint investigation by the Office of Labor-Management Standards and Office of Inspector General found that McClarren used the union's debit card to make more than 200 unauthorized cash withdrawals and more than 175 personal purchases at various locations including Coach, Wal-Mart, Best Buy, and a local casino. McClarren also issued more than 30 unauthorized checks made payable to herself or to "cash" and used union funds to purchase a vehicle.

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