United States Department of Labor

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June 12, 2014
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By The Numbers By The Numbers: World Day Against Child Labor 2014 — 168 Million children are engaged in child labor worldwide.

Work In Progress: The Best of Our Blog

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

A Shared Commitment: Improving Chemical Facility Safety and Security: Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels joins his counterparts from the Department of Homeland Security and the Environmental Protection Agency to explain the priority actions their working group submitted to the president to improve the safety and security of chemical facilities.

A Chance for a Better Life: State Sen. Clayton Hee of Hawaii writes a guest post about Hawaii's recent move to raise its minimum wage to $10.10 an hour and argues that Congress must act to "give ALL Americans across our country a shot at success by raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10."

4 Tips to Manage Milestones: Milestones like marriage, graduation or the birth of a child are joyful events, but they do come with important financial decisions to make. Here, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employee Benefits Security Phyllis C. Borzi provides some advice for managing these decisions wisely.

This Isn't Your Father's Fatherhood

Secretary Perez speaks at a Working Fathers Lead-Up Event to the White House Summit on Working Families. Click for a larger photo.

People should not have to choose between the families they love and the jobs they need, Secretary Perez said at a June 9 White House event highlighting the challenges facing working fathers in the modern economy. The forum was part of the lead-up to the White House Summit on Working Families on June 23. Perez discussed relevant policy priorities, like raising the minimum wage and providing paid leave. But he also spoke more personally about his own role as a father — coaching youth sports, participating in parent-teacher meetings, being there for birthday parties. Perez noted that he would miss the next day's Cabinet meeting at the White House to attend his daughter's high school graduation — an event his own father, who died 40 years ago this month, did not live to see.

Learn About the White House Summit
Read the Secretary's Remarks

Labor-Management Partnerships

Secretary Perez greets nurses during a tour of Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh. View the slideshow for more images and captions.

During a visit to Pittsburgh on June 11, Secretary Perez toured the Allegheny General Hospital, an affiliate of the Allegheny Health Network, and SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania. When more than 1,300 registered nurses at Allegheny General Hospital organized with SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania in October 1999, they made history as the first group of acute care hospital nurses in Pittsburgh ever to form a union. In October 2000, the nurses achieved their first union contract. Over the years, these nurses and managers have designed and executed some of the most innovative labor-management initiatives in the country. Earlier in the day, Perez toured the Allegheny Technologies Inc., metals plant, where he learned about the labor-management partnership between ATI and the United Steelworkers.

View the Slideshow

Apprenticeship Roundtables

Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez and John Courson, president of the Home Builders Institute meet prior to a roundtable discussion about apprenticeships in the construction industry at HBI headquarters in Washington D.C. View the slideshow for more images and captions.

The Office of Apprenticeship is hosting a series of roundtable discussions with industry leaders to identify ways to expand the use of apprenticeships throughout the country. Sessions have focused on transportation and logistics and on the health-care industry. On June 12, Secretary Perez joined construction industry representatives in Washington, D.C., at the Home Builders Institute for the third in the series of meetings. Construction has a long history with apprenticeships, accounting for roughly 60 percent of all apprenticeship programs in the country. Perez thanked the attendees for their leadership and challenged them to export their model to other industries.

View the Slideshow

Making Communities Safer

Secretary Perez joined Attorney General Eric Holder and top administration officials for at a meeting of the Federal Interagency Reentry Council on June 9 in Washington, D.C. The council represents 20 federal agencies that are working together to make communities safer by reducing recidivism and assisting those returning from prison to become productive members of their community. Perez discussed the department's extensive work in this field, including developing strategies and partnerships at the state and local levels to create programs that reduce recidivism and improve the workforce outcomes for justice-involved youth and adults. As part of this effort, the department has made nearly $80 million in grants available this year to support job training and employment services for former offenders.

Learning From Global Neighbors

Secretary Perez at Brown University's Watson Institute for International Studies 'Creating Peaceful, Just and Prosperous Societies' event at the National Press Club. Click for a larger photo.

The United States is a leader in labor standards and workers' rights, but we can still learn from our global neighbors. That was the message that Secretary Perez delivered recently at an event organized by the Brown University Watson Institute for International Studies at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. Even as we work with other governments to help them improve worker safety, Perez said, we can also learn from their successes, such as guaranteed paid leave for all workers.

Singing Diversity in Music City

Assistant Secretary Kathy Martinez accepts an award from Gregory Chambers, outgoing president of the American Association for Affirmative Action, soon to be renamed the American Association for Access, Equity and Diversity. View the slideshow for more images and captions.

Music City was singing diversity recently as Nashville hosted the American Association for Affirmative Action's 40th annual conference. On June 4, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy Kathy Martinez received the Edward M. Kennedy Community Service Award. In her remarks, Martinez emphasized the department's commitment to ensuring that people with disabilities have equal employment opportunities, and encouraged the audience to consider how their work contributes to a more inclusive American workforce. In a June 6 keynote, Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs Director Patricia A. Shiu addressed more than 150 equal employment opportunity officers, attorneys, and diversity and inclusion professionals. We have to be the champions of access, of equity and of diversity for all the workers we serve," Shiu said.

View the Slideshow
Learn About ODEP
Learn About OFCCP

Pathways for Women

Building equitable pathways for women in nontraditional fields requires federal job training programs to embrace and embed gender equity goals and policy, Portia Wu, assistant secretary of labor for employment and training, said at the Wider Opportunities for Women Initiative gathering. Wu spoke to an audience of approximately 80 representatives from job training, pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs from across the country at the meeting on June 11 in Washington, D.C. Wu discussed how national and local efforts can support programs that increase women's access to and preparation for nontraditional jobs. Said Wu, "Career advancement for women into in-demand occupations and industries with jobs that have family-sustaining wages benefits not only the women workers, but also their families, communities and our economy."

Wage Conference in Atlanta

Wayne Kotowski (center), Wage and Hour Southeast regional administrator and Frank McGriggs (right), deputy regional administrator, talk with Sandra Kibler, senior investigator advisor, prior to the conference. View the slideshow for more images and captions.

Nearly 300 participants attended a three-day prevailing wage conference at the Georgia International Convention Center in College Park, Ga., on June 3-5. The conference provided contracting officers, labor groups and state and federal regulatory agencies with information about the Davis-Bacon Act, McNamara O'Hara Service Contract Act, and other laws and regulations enforced by the department. "The seminar served as a great platform to reach our stakeholders and other interested parties by providing them the assistance and materials necessary to maintain compliance, said Wayne Kotowski, Southeast regional administrator for the Wage and Hour Division. "The high number of participants allowed our trainers to respond to many specific questions relating to all types of industries."

View the Slideshow

Focus on Mobile Technology

From left to right, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy Kathy Martinez, Senator Tom Harkin and Axel Leblois, president and executive director at G3ict — The Global Initiative for Inclusive ICTs at the M-Enabling Summit. Click for a larger photo.

The power and potential of accessible mobile technologies was discussed during the closing session of the M-Enabling Summit in Arlington, Va. As a panel moderator at the June 10 summit, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy Kathy Martinez provided her perspective on the role of mobile technologies in the hiring, employment and career advancement of people with disabilities. "What I love about events like this one is that they bring together key players who can make a difference on the accessible technology front — the people who can make a more 'technology-accessible' future a reality," said Martinez. The M-Enabling Summit is an annual conference dedicated to promoting accessible and assistive mobile applications and services.

Job Corps Students in China

Job Corps Students preparing to attend the opening ceremony of The 2nd APEC Youth Skills Camp in Beijing, China.  Left to right:  Lucas Okada, from Montana's Kicking Horse Job Corps Center; Fiama Alcantara-Manzanares, from Virginia's Blue Ridge Job Corps Center; Patrick Richards, from Iowa's Ottumwa Job Corps Center, and Asha Johnson, from California's Inland Empire Job Corps Center. Click for a larger photo.

Four Job Corps students and one Job Corps official participated in the 2nd Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Youth Skills Camp in Beijing and Guangzhou, China. The camp aims to improve career technical training to APEC youth and promote their youth skills development. It included field visits to vocational training schools, enterprises and public practical training facilities, as well as skills exchanges. The May 21-30 event was hosted by the Chinese government. Participants in the Youth Skills Camp included Lucas Okada, from Montana's Kicking Horse Job Corps Center; Asha Johnson, from California's Inland Empire Job Corps Center; Patrick Richards, from Iowa's Ottumwa Job Corps Center; and Fiorna Alcantara-Manzanares, from Virginia's Blue Ridge Job Corps Center. Job Corps' Unit Chief for Career Technical Training Tracy Bradshaw-Morris also attended.

Grants to Help Older Workers

The department has awarded 14 community service organizations $3.2 million to improve employment services for low-income older workers. Announced on June 11, this one-time demonstration grant is available through the Senior Community Service Employment Program. "Older workers are essential to the fabric of our nation, but it can be difficult for many of these Americans to access good jobs," said Portia Wu, assistant secretary of labor for employment and training. The grants will focus on improving unsubsidized job placements through increased employer engagement, enhancing services to SCSEP participants through development or improvement of partnerships, and expanding training options for SCSEP participants.

Read the News Release

Assistance for Laid-off Workers

A National Emergency Grant was awarded on June 11 to assist workers affected by the closure of the Swank distribution center in Taunton, Mass. The grant, totaling $1 million, will provide re-employment services such as adult education courses, including English as a Second Language, for a high school diploma or equivalent; career coaching and case management; job search workshops; resume preparation and interviewing practice; and skills development workshops. These services are designed to expedite re-employment in the region's high-demand sectors, including health care, heating and plumbing, information technology and the skilled trades.

Read the News Release

Workforce Center Signs Pact

The department's Civil Rights Center investigated a complaint that the Minnesota Workforce Center required a customer who was perceived to have a disability to attend an orientation for a vocational rehabilitation program before it would permit her to receive services that were not limited to individuals with disabilities. While not acknowledging that it violated the law, the Minnesota Workforce Center has signed a conciliation agreement with the department, demonstrating its commitment to the rights of persons with disabilities.

Read the News Release

Expanding Lubbock, Texas, Office

To better serve the workplaces in a diverse and growing area, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has expanded its office in Lubbock, Texas. Lubbock's population is expected to double by 2020 due to the increase in oil and gas exploration, drilling and servicing, and the discovery of lucrative gas shale in the Permian Basin and other areas. In 2013, seven of the 22 workers who lost their lives in Texas in the oil and gas industry were in the Lubbock Area Office's jurisdiction.

Read the News Release

Mine Safety Information Exchange

Members of the Ohio and Indiana State Aggregates Associations met with Mine Safety and Health Administration officials on June 10 at MSHA headquarters in Arlington, Va. During the meeting, which takes place annually, Assistant Secretary of Labor Joseph Main, who heads MSHA, discussed the recent increase in fatalities and near misses that have occurred in metal and nonmetal mining operations. He stressed the importance of conducting effective workplace examinations to identify and correct hazards and task training miners on the specific jobs they are performing. In turn, association representatives shared information about safety programs they have in place and how they are using MSHA's quarterly fatality information in their state training programs.

Farm Worker Outreach

The Wage and Hour Division continues to expand its efforts to increase awareness of labor rights and resources available to farm workers. Officials from the division's Sacramento, Calif., district office met with La Cooperativa Campesina de California on June 6 to advance such outreach. The nonprofit organization is the statewide association of agencies implementing and administering farm worker service programs and was established by the California Employment Development Department's Office of Migrant Services to provide migrant families with housing and support services, including food, health care and child care. The organization facilitates inter-agency cooperation to ensure compliance with federal and state grant guidelines.

Learn About Migrant Worker Protection
File a Complaint

Affordable Care Act Webinars

Millions of people enrolled in health care through the Health Insurance Marketplaces last year, and businesses, employees and individuals are enjoying the benefits of affordable health coverage. As with any new law, there's plenty to learn, so the Small Business Administration is hosting another weekly series of Affordable Care Act 101 webinars to help businesses navigate the changes and opportunities in the health care law. The department has hosted several webinars over the past year on ACA compliance, all of which are available on the Employee Benefits Security Administration's website.

Learn About SBA Webinars
View EBSA Webinars
Learn About the Affordable Care Act

ERISA Council Seeks Nominations

The Employee Benefits Security Administration is soliciting nominations to fill five vacancies on the Advisory Council on Employee Welfare and Pension Benefit Plans, also known as the ERISA Advisory Council. Nominations are being accepted to fill one vacancy in each of the following five fields: employee organizations, employers, investment management, corporate trust and the general public. Interested individuals and organizations may nominate qualified candidates for membership by Aug. 1. EBSA is committed to fostering a council membership that includes all perspectives and encourages candidates from diverse backgrounds to apply.

Read the News Release
Learn About the Council

Weekly UI Claims

The department reported that the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial Unemployment Insurance claims was 317,000 for the week ending June 7, an increase of 4,000 from the previous week's revised level. The four-week moving average was 315,250, up 4,750 from the previous week's revised average.

Read the News Release

Upcoming Deadlines & Events

Open Funding Opportunities

EBSA — Compliance Assistance Informational and Outreach Forum

June 20 — Wellesley Hills, MA

EBSA — Getting It Right: Know Your Fiduciary Responsibilities Seminar

June 17 — Germantown, TN

EBSA — Health Benefits Laws Compliance Assistance Seminar

June 17 — Denver, CO
June 18 — Denver, CO
June 24 — New York, NY
June 25 — New York, NY

OFCCP — Affirmative Action Programs: Creating an Inclusive Workplace

June 17 — Birmingham, AL
June 17 — Jackson, MS

OFCCP — Construction 16 EEO & Affirmative Action Requirements

June 24 — Atlanta, GA
June 26 — Columbia, SC

OFCCP — Directive 306: Joint Event with the Cara Program

June 25 — Chicago, IL

OFCCP — Diversity in Tech 2

June 23 — Redwood Shores, CA

OFCCP — Everything You Want to Know About Adverse Impact

June 19 — Columbus, OH

OFCCP — Filing and Employment Discrimination Complaint

June 18 — Memphis, TN

OFCCP — Good Faith Efforts

June 19 — Chicago, IL

OFCCP — Introduction to the New VEVRAA Act of 1974 Regulations

June 17 — Hattiesburg, MS
June 19 — Memphis, TN
June 19 — Richmond, VA

OFCCP — VA Job Fair & OFCCP Presentation

June 19 — Kent, WA

OFCCP — What to Expect During an OFCCP Audit

June 17 — Atlanta, GA
June 19 — Chicago, IL
June 25 — Philadelphia, PA

OWCP — Town Hall Meeting to Assist Nuclear Weapons Workers

June 18 — Attleboro, MA
June 19 — Cromwell, CT
June 24 — Moab, UT
June 25 — Moab, UT

WHD — Federal Compliance Seminar: McNamara-O'Hara Service Contract Seminar for U.S. Postal Service Mail Haulers

June 17 — St. Louis, MO

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What's New

Delivering on a Promise to Lift Up Workers

President Obama signed an executive order on Feb. 12 that will boost the minimum wage of federal contract workers to $10.10 per hour.  Click for a larger photo.

Fulfilling President Obama's commitment to make 2014 a year of action to strengthen the economy and grow the middle class, U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez announced a proposed rule raising the minimum wage for workers on federal service and construction contracts to $10.10 per hour. The proposed rule, announced on June 12, will implement an executive order that the president signed in February and benefit nearly 200,000 workers nationwide. "A core American value is that hard work should be rewarded with fair pay," said Perez. "And as the president said in his State of the Union address, if you cook our troops' meals or wash their dishes, you shouldn't have to live in poverty." White House Domestic Policy Director Cecilia Muñoz joined Perez for the announcement. "President Obama is leading by example, raising the minimum wage for federal contract workers, and governors, mayors and businesses around the country are answering the call to join him," she said. "Now it's time for Congress to finish the job and raise the wage for everyone." Interested parties can view the proposed rule and submit comments online. The department will issue a final rule by Oct. 1, and the new wage will be effective on Jan. 1, 2015.

Read the News Release
Read the Blog Post
Learn About the Proposed Rule

Apprenticeships in a Global Context

Secretary Perez delivers remarks at the Urban Institute's Global Lessons in Apprenticeships International Seminar on June 9. View the slideshow for more images and captions.

President Obama's push to double the number of apprenticeship programs in the United States over the next five years is bringing much-needed attention to this successful — but underused — training model. On June 9, the Urban Institute hosted a symposium in Washington, D.C., entitled "Global Lessons in Apprenticeships." With approximately 100 apprenticeship experts, including employers, educators and training providers, on hand, Secretary Perez discussed how transforming apprenticeship for the 21st century will play a key role in preparing American workers for fast-growing, high-skilled occupations in the years ahead. Perez also noted the department's efforts to support Obama's goal with an upcoming $100 million American Apprenticeship Grant competition, an expansion of opportunities for apprentices to apply their training toward college credit, and assistance for veterans to apply GI Bill benefits to apprenticeships.

Watch the Secretary's Remarks
Learn About Apprenticeships
View the Slideshow

National News

National Fall Safety Stand-Down a Rousing Success

Five hundred workers attended a stand-down at the Daytona International Speedway with NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Greg Biffle. View the slideshow for more images and captions.

More than one million construction workers participated in safety stand-downs aimed at preventing falls, a nationwide effort held June 2-6 that is believed to be the largest organized event of its kind. Secretary Perez kicked off the week with a press teleconference, as events from Atlanta to Albuquerque and Maryland to Michigan brought together an estimated 25,000 businesses in an effort to protect workers from predictable and preventable injuries and fatalities related to falls. The stand-down, which drew the support of local mayors, NASCAR driver Greg Biffle and others, was a part of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's fall prevention campaign, which was launched in 2012.

View National Safety Stand-Down Web Page
Learn About OSHA's Stop Falls Campaign
Read the Blog Post
View the Slideshow

Fourth Round of Workforce Data Quality Initiative Grants Announced

The fourth round of funding for the Workforce Data Quality Initiative was awarded on June 12. Six states will receive $6 million to improve their data collection abilities in order to more effectively track workforce and education data over the long term. Connecticut, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Nebraska and New Jersey will be expected to develop longitudinal databases to conduct research and analysis aimed at determining the effectiveness of workforce and education programs and develop tools to better inform customers about the benefits of the publicly-funded workforce system. "This federal funding will help states collect high-quality data to improve their employment and training services," said Secretary Perez. "Workers will also benefit by gaining access to information so that they can identify which job training program will best serve their needs."

Read the News Release

$3.4 Million to Help Virginia Veterans Transition to Civilian Workforce

The Commonwealth of Virginia is experiencing a record number of military personnel transitioning from active military duty to the civilian workforce. As a result, the number of veterans seeking assistance from the state's local American Job Centers has doubled in recent years. To meet veterans' needs and test strategies to improve service delivery and employment outcomes across the country, the department awarded Virginia a $3.4 million grant. "As our brave men and women return from military duty, we have an obligation to ensure we are doing all we can to make their transition to civilians lives as smooth as possible," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employment and Training Portia Wu.

Read the News Release

International Scene

Geneva Conference Adopts Landmark Protocol on Forced Labor

Deputy Undersecretary of Labor for International Labor Affairs Carol Pier addresses the 103rd  session of the International Labor Conference in Geneva, Switzerland, June 10, 2014.  Click for a larger photo.

Government, employer and worker delegates to the annual International Labor Conference in Geneva, Switzerland, voted overwhelmingly to adopt a Protocol and Recommendation on Forced Labor on June 11. The legally binding Protocol supplements existing ILO Convention 29 on Forced Labor and is open to ratification by member governments that have ratified the convention. It reaffirms the need for measures of prevention, protection and compensation for victims of forced labor. The non-binding Recommendation provides detailed guidance regarding such measures. "A legally binding instrument like the ILO's Protocol is an enormous step forward in our efforts to eradicate the pernicious practice of forced labor," Deputy Undersecretary of Labor for International Labor Affairs Carol Pier said in Geneva, where a team from ILAB has been actively involved in negotiations. "This is an historic day." There are currently an estimated 21 million forced labor victims worldwide, and the profits from forced labor are approximately $150 billion, according to a recent ILO study.

Learn More About the Protocol

World Day Against Child Labor

Associate Deputy Undersecretary of Labor for International Affairs Eric Biel speaks at a forum commemorating World Day Against Child Labor at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Washington, D.C., June 12, 2014. Click for a larger photo.

Two survivors of forced child labor shared their harrowing stories at a forum jointly hosted by the Labor Department and Department of Homeland Security in Washington, D.C., on June 12. One survivor was brought to the United States from Togo, where she was compelled to work in domestic servitude in an abusive home in Michigan for five years. The other was trafficked into prostitution at age 14 in New Jersey. The event was held to commemorate World Day Against Child Labor, observed annually on this date, and featured remarks by Associate Deputy Undersecretary of Labor for International Affairs Eric Biel and Director of the Office of Child Labor, Forced Labor and Human Trafficking Marcia Eugenio, as well as U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials. Speakers emphasized the importance of raising awareness of child labor by making survivors visible and establishing a fabric of partnerships in communities to protect children from exploitation. "If I could offer each one of you a challenge, it would be this: Do one thing!" Eugenio told the audience. "Tell a friend or family member about child labor. Help raise someone's understanding of the issue."

Learn More About Child Labor

Around DOL

Protecting the Rights of LGBT Workers

Deputy Secretary Chris Lu (left) staffs Pride at DOL's table in the Frances Perkins Building June 9. View the slideshow for more images and captions.

"We believe that the Labor Department and the entire nation are stronger for the contribution and leadership of LGBT employees," Deputy Secretary Chris Lu said to a gathering of about 75 department employees on June 10. Lu made the opening remarks for a panel on "Protecting LGBT Workers" at the department's Washington, D.C., headquarters. Maya Rupert, policy director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, moderated the discussion between Rep. Mark Pocan and transgender rights advocates Kylar W. Broadus and Michael D. Silverman. The panel discussed challenges facing LGBT workers around the nation and legislative changes that have increased their rights. The panel was one of several Pride Month events coordinated by employee affinity group Pride at DOL.

View the Slideshow

Of Note

Recognizing Leadership in the Technology Arena

Congratulations to Deputy Chief Information Officer Dawn Leaf for receiving a Leadership Award in Service Excellence in Washington, D.C., on June 12. Presented by the Association for Federal Information Resources Management, the Leadership Awards recognize individuals and groups in the federal technology community for leading innovation in government. Leaf was commended for her work in modernizing the department and maintaining important agency relationships to empower the workforce and better support mission success. Her focus on consolidating IT infrastructures and standardization to create a unified infrastructure will boost efficiencies and guide the department forward.

DOL Working for You

From Schoolbooks to Tool Belt

Hollie Enriquez. Click for a larger photo.

California's Hollie Enriquez had a college degree and a distinguished career in child development, but thought her skills were being undercompensated. So, in her mid-30s, she decided to make a career change. Enriquez sought help from Women In Non Traditional Employment Roles Inc., a nonprofit group that promotes the employment of women in high-wage, high-skill labor markets. The group receives funding from the Employment and Training Administration through a Women Apprenticeship in Nontraditional Occupations grant. Enriquez spent weeks studying math and English, leadership skills, basic construction and work safety. She attended a grueling boot camp where her physicality was assessed as she carried 60 pounds of cement, hauled sheets of plywood and climbed tall ladders. A journeywoman instructor even taught her how to give a strong, confident handshake. Enriquez earned multiple certifications and was accepted into the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 11, where she receives on-the-job training as a paid apprentice. She hopes to become a journeywoman in the sustainable energy field.

DOL in Action

Millions in Back Wages Recovered for New York City Workers

MDG Design & Construction LLC has reached a settlement with the department that resolves wage violations at the federally-assisted Grand Street Guild construction project in New York City. MDG and other respondents will pay $3.8 million in back wages and fringe benefits to about 200 construction workers. Previously, separate investigations led to the repayment of more than $1.1 million in back wages to approximately 300 laborers and mechanics who worked on the Lower East Side project. "This settlement reinforces the Labor Department's commitment to take strong action to ensure that workers are properly compensated for their work," said Dr. David Weil, administrator of the Wage and Hour Division. "General contractors on federally assisted projects have a responsibility to ensure that their subcontractors comply with prevailing wage laws and properly compensate their employees."

Read the News Release
Learn About Prevailing Wage Requirements

$1 Million Settlement Reached in Hiring Discrimination Case

Lincoln Electric Co. has agreed to settle allegations of hiring discrimination on the basis of race. The settlement follows an investigation by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, which found the contractor's hiring process resulted in systemic discrimination against African American applicants. As a result, 5,557 qualified African Americans were rejected for entry-level factory and production positions at the company's Cleveland facility. Under the terms of the conciliation agreement, Lincoln Electric will pay $1 million in back wages and interest to the affected job seekers and offer entry-level positions to 48 class members as positions become available. The company will also revise its selection policies and procedures, including its online application test.

Read the News Release

Missouri Construction Company Faces Penalties After Worker Injured

Gershenson Construction Co. Inc., of Fenton, Mo., was cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration after an employee was struck by one end of a 12-foot-long section of sewer pipe being maneuvered by an excavator. The impact caused him to fall to the bottom of the 13-foot-deep trench. The worker suffered a broken vertebra in the incident. OSHA cited the company for one willful and 10 serious violations for failing to protect workers from struck-by and trench cave-in hazards. Proposed penalties total $110,400.

Read the News Release

Indianapolis Physical Therapists to Receive Back Wages

Under terms of a court order, Access Therapies Inc. of Indianapolis must pay $81,454 in civil penalties and $39,946 in back wages to six physical therapists for violations of the H-1B provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act. The H-1B program allows companies to hire foreign workers temporarily on a nonimmigrant basis in specialty occupations. Access Therapies also will be debarred from participation in the H-1B program for a one-year period. The investigation found that employees were not compensated with the required prevailing wages. Access Therapies also failed to withhold applicable employment taxes.

Read the News Release

Illinois Workers Exposed to Trench Dangers

Duce Construction Co. was cited with four safety violations for failing to protect workers from trenching hazards at a job site in Savoy, Ill. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has proposed penalties of $59,500. Workers were exposed to soil avalanching and cave-in hazards because the company failed to ensure that trench boxes were used correctly.

Read the News Release

Employees of Residential Care Home Providers to Receive Back Pay

Residential care home providers and skilled nursing facilities in Northern California have agreed to pay back wages and damages to employees for violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Farol's Residential Care Home, with facilities in San Francisco, has agreed to pay $33,779 to six employees plus an equal amount in damages. B & B Residential Facilities, a San Mateo-based care home operator, has paid $79,382 in back wages and an equal amount in damages to 16 employees. Two skilled nursing facilities in Livermore — Silver Oak Manor and Tiffany Gardens — paid $172,973 in back wages and damages to 55 employees.

Worker Died After Being Caught in Machine

A 35-year-old sanitation supervisor at a New Bedford, Mass., fish processing plant died in January after he was caught in the rotating parts of the shucking machine he was cleaning. An investigation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration found that his employer, Sea Watch International Ltd., failed to implement basic safety procedures to protect workers who service or maintain machines. "This worker should not have died. This death was preventable if the company had implemented the required safety practices," said Brenda Gordon, OSHA's area director for southeastern Massachusetts. Sea Watch International Ltd. was cited for failing to implement lockout/tagout procedures, fall hazards and inadequate chemical hazard communication.

Read the News Release

Florida Recycler Faces Penalties for Repeat Hazards

A Port St. Lucie, Fla., recycler has been cited for two repeat and three serious safety violations following an inspection by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The citations issued to Liberty Tire Recycling LLC involved exposing workers to fall hazards, such as platforms that lacked guardrails. The inspection began in January as part of OSHA's Site-Specific Targeting program. Proposed penalties total $45,000.

Read the News Release

California Organization Failed to Pay Some Workers for a Year

Disabled Employees Rehabilitation Inc. and its president Bregy VanCleve have been ordered to pay $43,613 in damages to nine employees who were paid below federal minimum wage or not paid at all for one year. The employees already received $43,613 in unpaid back wages as a result of a Wage and Hour Division investigation. The Northern California employer was assessed $9,900 in civil penalties for the willful nature of the violations found. "This should not have happened, and the fact that it was being done under the cloak of an organization presenting itself as having a charitable purpose, just makes these violations all the more shameful," said Janet Herold, the department's regional solicitor in San Francisco.

Read the News Release
Learn About Employment of Workers With Disabilities

Whistleblower Who Reported Investor Fraud to Receive Back Wages

SpongeTech Delivery Systems Inc. of New York has been ordered by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to pay $30,288 in back wages, plus interest, to a former employee who was fired after she reported apparent investment fraud to her superiors. OSHA's investigation found that the employee engaged in protected activity under the whistleblower provisions of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act when she raised concerns to her employers about the veracity of the sales information. OSHA determined that her protected activity was a contributing factor in her firing and, consequently, ordered the payment of the back wages. "The point here is sharp and important: No employee should be fired or otherwise penalized for reporting investor fraud," said Robert Kulick, OSHA's regional administrator in New York.

Read the News Release
Learn About Whistleblower Protections

Former Union Officers in Chicago Sentenced for Embezzling

Three former officers of American Federation of Government Employees Local 2107 in North Chicago pleaded guilty and were sentenced during the past seven months for their roles in a mail fraud scheme. From approximately 2005 to 2009, the three misused the union's debit cards and other funds for their personal benefit. Former president James Charleston made 241 debit card withdrawals at ATMs, the majority of which were made in casinos where he gambled. Former vice president Jacquelyn Pugh-Rodgers made 141 debit card purchases for personal items, and former secretary-treasurer Mary Craigen made numerous debit withdrawals and purchases for her personal benefit. Charleston was sentenced to one year and one day of imprisonment followed by 18 months of supervised release and was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $102,784. Pugh-Rodgers was sentenced to three years of probation with six months of community confinement and was ordered to pay $35,663 in restitution. Craigen was sentenced to 90 days of home confinement, two years of probation and 200 hours of community service, and was ordered to pay restitution of $8,975.

Oil Fracking Workers in Ohio to Receive Back Overtime Pay

Appalachian Oilfield Services LLC has agreed to pay 25 heavy equipment operators $129,802 in overtime back wages after an investigation by the Wage and Hour Division found the company was in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The workers provided oil fracking cleanup services and hauled away muck ejected from wells in eastern Ohio. An investigation found that equipment operators were paid a flat daily rate for a 12-hour shift. When they worked in excess of 12 hours, they were paid an hourly rate. No overtime compensation was provided for hours worked in excess of 40 in a workweek, in violation of the FLSA.

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Plastering Contractor Violates Key Labor Laws

Ace Commercial Plastering Inc. has agreed to pay $131,953 to 208 current and former employees following an investigation by the Wage and Hour Division. Investigators found the Ceres, Calif., lathing and plastering contractor in violation of the Davis-Bacon and Related Acts, the Contract Work Hours and Safety Standards Act and the Fair Labor Standards Act. The contractor failed to pay the correct prevailing wage rate for all hours worked and misclassified the affected workers. The employer also failed to accurately record all hours worked and did not pay the required overtime premium.

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Learn About the Contract Work Hours and Safety Standards Act

Nevada Housing Authority to Pay $425,000 in Back Wages

The Southern Nevada Regional Housing Authority has agreed to pay $425,000 in overtime back wages found due to 77 current and former employees following an investigation by the Wage and Hour Division. The Las Vegas-based state agency failed to record and pay for hours worked pre-shift, post-shift and during meal breaks, and to pay hourly employees time and one-half for hours worked beyond 40 in a workweek. The housing authority also unlawfully considered some salaried employees as exempt from overtime, even though those employees did not meet the criteria for exemption. The Southern Nevada Regional Housing Authority is regulated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and provides affordable and subsidized housing to low- and moderate-income families.

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Workers at Food Supplement Plant Exposed to Amputation Hazards

Bioiberica Nebraska was cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for 10 safety and health violations for failing to protect workers from moving machine parts during service and maintenance. OSHA proposed penalties of $101,200 and placed the company in the Severe Violator Enforcement Program. "OSHA's investigation found multiple violations that exposed workers to serious amputation risks. Workers servicing or maintaining machines or equipment may be seriously injured or killed if basic protections on machines are not provided," said Bonita Winingham, OSHA's area director in Omaha.

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Combustible Dust, Blocked Fire Exits at New Jersey Furniture Maker

Academia Furniture Industries LLC in Woodridge, N.J., was cited for 30 serious safety and health violations by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. OSHA's investigation began in February as part of the agency's Local Emphasis Program — Health High Hazard — Top 50, which allows for inspections in a broad range of industries where previous OSHA inspections have identified health hazards. Combustible dust, exposed electrical dangers, blocked fire exits and the lack of a hearing conservation program were among the violations. The company faces $58,100 in proposed penalties.

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Wisconsin Chemical Plant Fined Nearly $500,000

Fontarome Chemical Inc. has been cited for 23 safety and health violations carrying proposed penalties of $449,680 by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The St. Francis, Wis., company has been placed in OSHA's Severe Violator Enforcement Program. The agency began an inspection last December after the company failed to fix hazards following an April 2012 fire at the manufacturing facility, which uses the chemical thionyl chloride. Exposure to thionyl chloride, often used to produce ingredients for pharmaceuticals and the flavor and fragrance industries, can cause serious eye, skin and respiratory issues. Five willful violations involved OSHA's process safety management regulations, which contain specific requirements for protecting workers from highly hazardous chemicals.

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Paving Contractor Must Pay Workers' Travel Time

GM Sager Construction Inc. has agreed to pay $146,092 in overtime back wages and an equal amount in damages to 26 workers. An investigation by the Wage and Hour Division found the Pomona, Calif., concrete and asphalt paving contractor in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act's overtime and record-keeping provisions. The employer failed to register and pay the workers for their travel time between the last job site to the company's yard at the end of each day and for work performed once employees returned to the yard.

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Seat Belt, Air Bag Manufacturer Exposed Workers to Unsafe Machinery

Higuchi International Corp., doing business as Higuchi Manufacturing America LLC, has been cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for nine violations for exposing workers to unsafe noise levels and machinery at its Elmendorf, Texas, facility. OSHA began its inspection of the vehicular seat belt and automotive air bag components manufacturer in December 2013 after receiving a worker complaint. A willful violation was cited for failure to establish safety procedures for workers who service and maintain machinery that use locks and tags, and failure to conduct training to protect workers from moving machine parts. Bodily injuries, amputations and death can result from uncontrolled machines and unexpected machine activation. Some of the eight serious violations cited included failure to provide and ensure the use of adequate personal protective equipment for employees working with hazardous and corrosive chemicals, which led to an employee being injured. Proposed penalties total $102,600.

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5 Companies Cited After Temp Worker Fatality at Amazon Facility

Last December, temporary worker Ronald Smith died from injuries sustained after he was caught in a conveyor system and crushed while performing sorting operations at an Amazon fulfillment center in Avenel, N.J. Following an investigation, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited five companies for serious violations. Third-party logistics provider Genco, based in Pittsburgh, was contracted by Amazon to direct temporary employees from four staffing agencies involved in sorting operations. Genco was cited for one serious violation for not certifying that a hazard assessment of the facility had been conducted before assigning employees to work. Temporary staffing agencies Abacus — The Corporate Services Co., Baltimore, Md., which employed Smith; New York-based Corporate Resource Services Inc., doing business as Diamond Staffing Services; Remedy Intelligent Staffing Inc., doing business as a division of Selective Staffing, Santa Barbara, Calif.; and Staffmark, headquartered in Ohio, were each cited by OSHA.

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Employer Violates Polygraph Protection Act

Pawn 1st LLC in Phoenix, Ariz., has paid $19,500 in civil penalties as part of a settlement to resolve violations of the Employee Polygraph Protection Act. An investigation by the Wage and Hour Division at one of the employer's pawn shops identified six employees who were instructed to take a lie detector test after the loss of a diamond ring and a cash shortage of $2,000. The employer, however, failed to establish that there was reasonable suspicion to subject the workers to the polygraph. Pawn 1st also failed to provide the employees with at least 48 hours advance notice and threatened the workers with adverse employment action if they did not take the polygraph test. The agreement requires the employer to post employee notices on EPPA rights at all of its establishments.

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Ohio Worker's Hand Crushed While Operating Power Press

Following the crushing of a worker's hand in a 150-ton mechanical power press last November, Superior Roll Forming Co. was cited for four serious safety violations by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. OSHA's complaint investigation at the company's Valley City, Ohio, facility found two repeat violations of machine guarding and lockout/tagout procedures, two of the most frequently cited OSHA standards. OSHA proposed $89,500 in penalties for failing to protect workers from lacerations, caught-in and amputation hazards.

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Forest Service Contractor to Pay Back Wages to 76 Employees

DL Reforestation has agreed to pay $26,249 in back wages due to 76 employees following an investigation by the Wage and Hour Division. The U.S. Forest Service contractor, based in White City, Ore., failed to correctly pay overtime premiums due to workers as required under the Fair Labor Standards Act. The contractor also was found in violation of the Service Contract Act and the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act.

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