To kick off the 20th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) on Monday, Assistant Secretary for the Office of Disability Employment Policy Kathy Martinez participated in a panel discussion hosted by Senator Tom Harkin. Martinez highlighted the recent successes of the ADA, as well as upcoming initiatives to achieve its promise.
"I am particularly honored to be in the company of the leaders who, 20 years ago, had the foresight and determination to introduce and pass this legislation," said Martinez. "They might not have realized it at the time, but they were changing the world, not just for people with disabilities, but for us all."
Urban areas offer challenges for job seekers, but new initiatives are creating opportunities for workers around the country. This was the message delivered by Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employment and Training Jane Oates at a panel discussion on urban prosperity during the National Urban League's Centennial Conference in Washington, D.C. Oates discussed how a new On the Job Training program will offer individuals the opportunity to receive training in a real work environment while they earn wages.
As part of the department's recognition of telework as a key work/life balance strategy, the Women's Bureau Atlanta Regional Director Paulette Lewis was invited this week to participate in the signing of the governor's telework proclamation. The proclamation enacts Georgia's first-ever official state telework week, August 23 - 30. Over the next several months, the Women's Bureau regional offices will be pursuing a number of initiatives to encourage employers and their employees use telework and flexiplace alternatives.
Redesigning the department's Transition Assistance Program (TAP) will help returning military personnel obtain needed certifications and match their skills with meaningful employment, Veterans' Employment and Training Services Assistant Secretary Raymond Jefferson told the House Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs. The redesigned TAP will provide online and written skills appraisal tools designed to help veterans match skills and training learned in the military with licensing and credentialing necessary for employment in the civilian sector. Those who have served the country should "have every opportunity available to leverage their skills and training to create meaningful civilian careers," Jefferson added.
This week, Deputy Secretary of Labor Seth Harris testified before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Subcommittee on Children and Families. His topic: the Labor Department's role in improving the state of America's children. Harris highlighted DOL programs such as Job Corps and YouthBuild, as well as the Wage and Hour Division's enforcement investigations regarding the Family and Medical Leave Act and illegal child labor. He also thanked Committee Chairman Senator Christopher Dodd for his years of service and for fighting for the rights of women, minorities, children, and those whose voices are not always heard.
Summit Calls for Action to Help Latino Workers in New Jersey
More than 100 people, representing workers, union representatives, employers, community organizations, consulates, and federal and state agencies attended the Northern New Jersey Action Summit for Latino/Immigrant Worker Safety and Health this week in Whippany, N.J. The full-day event was designed to educate members of the community about workplace hazards and their right to a safe and healthy workplace. "We want Latino and immigrant workers to know that OSHA is listening and is here to help," said Robert Kulick, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regional administrator in New York.
Wage and Hour's Deputy Administrator Nancy Leppink addressed state labor officials from across the country on Tuesday about the increasingly problematic misclassification of employees as independent contractors. Leppink spoke at the National Association of Governmental Labor Officials Annual Conference in Richmond, Va. "The misclassification of the employment relationship illegally deprives workers of the rights and benefits that Congress and your state legislature intended them to have," said Leppink. Employers who misclassify their employees also gain an unfair advantage over businesses that obey the law. The president's 2011 budget request includes $25 million for the department to address the misclassification issue. The department could use the money to hire more investigators and provide grants to states to increase their capacity to detect and enforce misclassification violations.
Final Rule Published on Cranes and Derricks in Construction
In an effort to bring standards into the 21st century, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration published a new rule addressing the use of cranes and derricks in construction. The rule will replace a decades-old standard by incorporating industry recognized updates to safety requirements, methods and practices, as well as technological advances. "The significant number of fatalities associated with the use of cranes in construction led the Labor Department to undertake this rulemaking," said Secretary Solis. "After years of extensive research, consultation and negotiation with industry experts, this long overdue rule will address the leading causes of fatalities related to cranes and derricks, including electrocution, boom collapse and overturning." Approximately 267,000 construction, crane rental and crane certification establishments employing nearly 5 million workers will be affected by the rule published on Thursday.
NFL Running Back Delivers Strong Mine Safety Message
Thomas Jones made headlines last year as a New York Jets running back. These days, he's wearing a Kansas City Chiefs jersey and, before heading for the heartland and the rigors of training camp, Jones visited the Labor Department to tape a series of public service announcements for the Mine Safety and Health Administration's "Stay Out-Stay Alive" campaign. The campaign is aimed at warning children and outdoor enthusiasts about playing on mine property. Each year, dozens of people are injured or killed in recreational accidents at abandoned mine shafts, gravel pits and water-filled quarries. Jones is well aware of the potential dangers. "Both my parents were coal miners, and they instilled in me a respect for the hazards they often encountered while working underground," he said. "If you haven't been properly trained as a miner, you have no business being anywhere near a quarry, gravel pit or mine."
Eighteen-year-old Laquita Liggins feels great working here as a summer intern, but she is also an important part of the department's inaugural involvement in the Labor Department's Project Search, a skills training and work program for young people with disabilities ages 18 to 21.
Liggins interns as a clerk for the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Administration and Management. She particularly enjoys greeting the public and hopes to parlay the skills learned into future full time federal employment. Laquita said she has grown through Project Search, "and learned how to respect myself as a person."
A number of DOL agencies have signed on as worksites for Project Search, whose other partners include the Joseph P. Kennedy Institute, Washington, D.C.'s public schools, as well as the district's Rehabilitation and Department of Disability Services agencies.
Protecting Child Labor in Central America
During her trip to Nicaragua this week, Secretary Solis visited a school in Jinotega where children are now attending school instead of working alongside their parents in the fields. "Ending child labor is not something that can be accomplished through a single law. But, these are the types of initiatives that need to be recognized and expanded to work towards this goal," Solis said. The Labor Department-funded ENTERATE project works to combat child labor in Jinotega, Madriz and Managua. Solis had the opportunity to visit the school at the Los Potrerillos coffee plantation that was constructed by the plantation's owners.
Secretary Solis announced this week a new United States government contribution of $10 million
to support the Salvadoran government's efforts to combat and eradicate child labor. This new initiative involves working closely with the government of El Salvador to combat the
root causes of child labor in Comunidades Solidarias, communities that the Salvadoran government has identified as the most disadvantaged. "The eradication of child labor is a necessary task that binds us all together and has global benefits for all of us," Solis said. "Economic development, the promotion of decent work, and aspirations for a more inclusive society cannot be reached if working children and their parents do not have rights, access, and concrete opportunities that allow them to have a dignified life."
Jobs for Puerto Rico Residents Assisting with Storm Clean Up
Puerto Rico is working to recover from recent floods, and DOL is lending a hand. A $4 million National Emergency Grant will create temporary jobs for residents to assist in ongoing cleanup and recovery efforts. On June 24, 2010, the Federal Emergency Management Agency declared 10 municipalities in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico eligible for the Public Assistance Program. This includes Arecibo, Barranquitas, Coamo, Corozal, Dorado, Naranjito, Orocovis, Utuado, Vega Alta, and Vega Baja. National Emergency Grants are part of the Secretary of Labor's discretionary fund and are awarded based on a state's ability to meet specific guidelines.
When an emergency situation unfolds in a local community, police, fire, and search and rescue units are among the first to respond. But when disaster strikes in an underground mine, who gets the call? Mine rescue teams are highly trained groups of men and women who spend countless hours preparing for a mine emergency such as a mine fire, roof collapse or explosion. It's a waiting game for the victims, and a race against time for those involved in the rescue. To better prepare for such events and to keep their skills sharp, mine rescue teams compete in local and national competitions. This week, nearly 40 teams from around the country participated in the 2010 Metal/Nonmetal National Mine Rescue Contest in Reno, Nev., a biannual event sponsored by the Mine Safety and Health Administration. Winners will go home with a trophy but, more importantly, a great sense of pride in the efforts of their mine rescue compatriots.
Investigation Nets More Than $1.3 Million
for Employees of GeoPharma
Following an investigation by the Labor Department's Wage and Hour Division (WHD), GeoPharma Inc. in Largo, Fla., has agreed to pay $1,360,098 in back wages to 187 employees for violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act. WHD determined that the company missed or was in arrears for 14 payroll periods from late 2009 through 2010. The dietary supplements and pharmaceutical manufacturing company operates six facilities in West Florida. Employees affected by this investigation were involved in production, inventory control and shipping.
DOL Recovers $840K in Back Wages for Employees of NY Food Stores
The department has recovered $840,000 in minimum wages, overtime pay, and liquidated damages for 42 employees of four Queens, N.Y., retail food stores. DOL filed suit in 2008 in the U.S. District Court against owner, June Hyung Kil, and manager, Tae Hyung Kil for violations to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). A consent judgment permanently prohibits the defendants from future violations of the FLSA's minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, and anti-retaliation requirements. The defendants also are ordered to inform their employees in Spanish and English of their rights under the FLSA and to place posters in both languages with the same information in visible locations throughout their stores.
The Labor Department's Women's Bureau will host a teleconference focusing on women working in alternative energy fields at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, August 3. This program will be the fifth in a series of seven teleconferences designed to provide workforce professionals, educators, career advisors and other interested women with an exchange of ideas on how to better connect women with green jobs. Speakers from the Women's Bureau, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Genera Energy and the Interstate Renewable Energy Council will share experiences from the field. Insights on how to foster women's employment in renewable energy now and in the future will also be discussed.
It's not too late to join Secretary Solis and Assistant Secretary for Disability
Employment Policy Kathleen Martinez on Friday, July 30 for DOL's 20th Anniversary Celebration
of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The event will take place at 2 p.m. in
the Great Hall of the Labor Department's Frances Perkins Building in Washington, D.C. A special highlight
of the event will be the induction of Justin Dart, Jr. and Helen Keller into the department's Labor
Hall of Fame, which honors, posthumously, those Americans whose distinctive contributions
to the field of labor have enhanced the quality of life of America's workers.
Our current economic times call for many working families to reeducate and train themselves for new innovative and sustainable fields. At the Labor Department, we are not only committed to helping workers prepare for emerging careers, but ensuring that our employees receive the training they need to best serve the public. Explore the positions below or view all the rewarding careers with DOL.
Position in Dallas, Tex.
Apprenticeship and Training Representative
Position in Beckley, W.V.
Position in Little Rock, AR
Apprenticeship and Training Representative (State Director)