Seventeen years is not that long ago, but when it comes to technology, it seems like ages.
A good example: the first U.S. Department of Labor website. Launched on Sept. 4, 1995, dol.gov was not much to look at back then.
The site highlighted major departmental issues at the time, including minimum wage, corporate citizenship, pension protection and child labor reports.
There was no photography on the home page, and the color palette for type consisted of grey, red, white, and three shades of blue. There was one big innovation of the day on the website: animated, revolving "hot buttons" for key initiatives.
Today's dol.gov has nearly 165,000 pages, averages 10 million page views a month with a monthly visit average of more than 3 million. And it looks much better now, too!
Addie Wyatt, former international vice president of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, has been inducted into the Department of Labor's Hall of Honor. Secretary Solis announced the induction on May 8 to more than 400 attendees at the UFCW's legislative conference in Chicago. Wyatt worked as a Chicago meat-packer and rose to the highest ranks of the American labor movement, becoming the first
African-American woman to lead a local labor union and serve as a vice president of an international union. "Addie Wyatt spent her lifetime fighting for all working people no matter their race, their gender or their ethnic background," Solis said. "She believed that dignity and respect belonged to everyone no matter where you came from or what job you worked." Wyatt co-founded the Coalition of Labor Union Women and also worked closely with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to support the Montgomery Bus Boycott and counseled a young community organizer named Barack Obama. She passed away March 28, 2012.
Nearly one in four American workers is employed by a company that receives federal funds for contracted work.
The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs is responsible for holding federal contractors and subcontractors accountable to the legal requirements that
they prohibit discrimination and take affirmative action to ensure equal employment opportunity with respect to sex, race, color, religion, national origin,
disability and status as a protected veteran. OFCCP Director Patricia A. Shiu's history reflects a life-long commitment to the value of fair play in
employment. Today she leads nearly 800 staff who are dedicated to protecting workers, promoting diversity and enforcing the law.
Prior to joining the department, Shiu spent 26 years as a civil rights attorney and public policy advocate. [More...]
An alliance agreement supporting increased hiring of individuals with disabilities in the health care industry was signed May 7 by Kathy Martinez, assistant secretary of labor for disability employment policy, and Beth Marks, president of the National Organization of Nurses with Disabilities. "ODEP looks forward to partnering with NOND to develop strategies for increasing employment and educational opportunities for those of us with disabilities in the health care industry," Martinez said. NOND is an open membership, cross-disability, public education and advocacy organization that works to promote the full inclusion and acceptance of people with disabilities and chronic health conditions into nursing careers.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration Region V Labor Liaisons, who serve as a communication and training resource for workers, recently attended the National Safety Council Labor Division Spring Conference in Madison, Wis., where they conducted a panel focusing on how employees and their advocates can work with OSHA. The labor liaisons also participated in mock inspections and interactive training with approximately 200 members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. Other participating unions included the Transport Workers Union, Machinists, United Steel Workers, Teamsters, United Auto Workers, American Federation of State City and Municipal Employees, American Federation of Government Employees, and the Utility Workers Coalition.
Looking to the Future
Secretary Solis sat down with college students and recent graduates from the University of Illinois at Chicago on May 8 to discuss the challenges and opportunities they face entering the workforce.
About 150 students attended the event, where they discussed access to training, good jobs and the possibility that federal student loan interest rates may double on July 1 unless Congress acts.
"We should be investing in our young people," Solis said. "We should be making it easier for students to go to college, not harder." The next day, Solis was in Columbus, Ohio, meeting with students and recent graduates of Columbus State Community College. Solis covered many of the same topics that were discussed in Chicago, and then stressed the importance of a college education as the door to getting ahead in today's global economy. She also visited the Ohio Statehouse to address the Latino business community as part of Ohio Latino Legislative Visit Day, where she highlighted the importance of entrepreneurship programs and summer jobs.
OSHA Takes Health and Safety Campaigns to the Bluegrass State
After its recent launch of two national outreach and education campaigns for protecting workers, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is hitting the road to cultivate support from its state partners and local stakeholders. Last week, the agency kicked off a campaign to protect workers in the construction industry with the simple message of "Plan. Provide. Train." Then, as the mercury began its summer rise, OSHA launched the second year of its heat injury and illness prevention campaign to protect workers in outdoor industries. On May 9, Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Dr. David Michaels was the keynote speaker at the Annual Governor's Safety and Health Conference and Exposition in Louisville, Ky. He discussed the agency's goals for these campaigns with the safety professionals in attendance.
Career Tips for College Students
More than 100 faculty and students from Virginia State University and St. Paul's College participated on April 18 in a forum on employment opportunities in public service and federal contracting. The department's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs hosted the event in Petersburg, Virginia, in collaboration with both schools and the Urban League of Greater Richmond. OFCCP Mid-Atlantic Regional Director Michele Hodge spoke to the audience of African American college students about the Obama administration's commitment to ensuring that the federal workforce and the federal contracting workforce reflect the diversity of 21st century America. Department representatives also collected resumes and discussed opportunities for summer internships and federal careers.
Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Jordan Barab delivered the keynote speech at the United Auto Workers annual health and safety training conference in Black Lake, Michigan, on May 9. Barab spoke to a gathering of 350 local union trainers about the department's commitment to the Occupational Safety and Health Act and the importance of union members having the tools to recognize and mitigate workplace hazards. Barab noted that classes funded by OSHA's Susan Harwood Training grant program are "the best steps towards ensuring that UAW members come home safe and healthy from every shift, and buttress the long-lasting positive impact of the UAW in making sure every member has a safe job."
Focusing on the Recovery
Dr. Adriana Kugler, the department's chief economist, participated in a policy briefing for the Hispanic Bar Association this week. The event brought together 70 Latino legal professionals from across the country to discuss issues ranging from the economy to immigration reform. Joining a panel of administration officials at the White House, Kugler discussed the improving labor market situation for Hispanic workers. In particular, she highlighted the fact that the current economic recovery has been broad, benefiting Hispanics of all ages and educational groups and national origin.
Ready for Mine Emergencies
Imagine being called upon to travel hundreds of feet underground in search of missing miners following a fire, roof collapse or explosion. That scenario was one of several encountered by mine rescue teams this week at the Mine Safety and Health Administration's training academy in Beaver, W.Va. Nearly 60 teams engaged in a series of exercises designed to test their skills fighting fire, navigating through dense smoke and rescuing trapped miners. "With terrible tragedies like what happened at Upper Big Branch, Sago and Aracoma over the past several years, it is clear that the U.S. mining industry still needs the valuable expertise that well-trained mine rescue teams deliver," said MSHA Assistant Secretary Joseph Main. "When a mine emergency strikes, there is nothing more comforting than the presence of prepared, competent mine rescue teams." On public display were several components of MSHA's Mine Emergency Operations unit, including the seismic location vehicle, mobile gas laboratory, mine rescue robot and command center truck, which recently was equipped with a state-of-the-art surface-to-underground communications and tracking system. "Effective mine rescue entails many different parts working together seamlessly toward one goal," said Main. "One of the most important things we can do is to prepare ourselves as best we can for a mine emergency."
With science, technology, engineering and math job growth projected to rise at twice the rate of the economy by 2018, ensuring workers have the technical skills employers need has never been more important. Jane Oates, assistant secretary of labor for employment and training, took that message to Las Vegas on May 8 for a conference focused on the ways that education providers, government, and businesses can collaborate to close the technical workforce gap. The event, put on by Siemens, also highlighted a new partnership with Iowa Western Community College to share best practices on associate's degree curriculum, obtaining in-kind software grants to provide the technology needed for implementation, and a white paper on how to build successful academic, government and business partnerships.
"I wouldn't be where I am today without Mr. Robert Sanchez," said Secretary Solis during a heartfelt video thanking our nations' teachers. The video is one of more than a dozen created by members of the department's leadership staff this week to share a special message in honor of an educator who inspired them and made a difference in their lives. The recordings are part of a national "Thank a Teacher" campaign in celebration of Teacher Appreciation Week.
Joined by panelists from across town and across the country, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis participated in a Google+ Hangout a live online video conference on the importance of summer jobs and the administration's Summer Jobs+ initiative.
The event showcased the involvement of Jamba Juice and Southwire as two of the more than 120 companies and organizations that have signed on as Summer Jobs+ partners,
as well as the city of Columbus, Ohio, and the development work of Monica Wilkinson from San Francisco. But perhaps the most compelling story was that of
Jorge Otano, who got his first summer job through the Latin American Youth Center in Washington, D.C., where he now proudly works as a full-time employee.
As Secretary Solis said, "There's no replacement for the dignity that comes with earning your first paycheck, I know because I've been there.
I wouldn't be here today as the nation's first Latina Secretary of Labor if it wasn't for the summer work experiences I had growing up."
For the second consecutive year, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration will conduct a nationwide outreach campaign to
educate employers and workers about the hazards of working outdoors in extreme heat. The message is a simple one: Beat the heat with water, rest and shade.
Building on the success of last year's efforts, OSHA has renewed partnerships with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and
numerous stakeholders, to keep outdoor workers safe in the grueling summer months. There is a mobile application available for
iPhone and Android platforms that can display a risk level for workers based on the heat index, and also gives workers and employers
reminders about protective measures that should be taken. "For outdoor workers, 'water, rest and shade' are three words that can make
the difference between life and death," Secretary Solis said. "If employers take reasonable precautions, and look out for their workers,
we can beat the heat."
The Mine Safety and Health Administration has added a new member to its executive team. Anthony Mayville was selected as MSHA's deputy assistant secretary for policy, effective May 9. Previously, Mayville was director of the Office of Mines and Minerals for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, where he supervised regulation of mining and mineral extraction in the state. His nearly three decades in the mining industry include jobs as a coal miner, union representative, section foreman and assistant mine manager. Said Assistant Secretary of Labor for MSHA Joseph Main, "He brings a wealth of experience in oversight and enforcement of mine safety laws to the agency."
DOL Employees Receive Honor Awards Made by Gary Job Corps
Secretary Solis presented awards to department employees in recognition of their outstanding displays of professionalism, teamwork and dedication at the department's annual Honor Awards ceremony on May 10 at the Labor Department's headquarters in Washington, D.C. The award medallions and their display boxes were made from available materials at no cost to the taxpayers by machining, arts and crafts and carpentry students from the Gary Job Corps Center in San Marcos, Texas. The students came together as a team to design and craft what the award should look like, be composed of and symbolize.
Under the direction of machining instructors Saysamone Manyseng a 1984 Gary graduate and Bob Costa, machining students used a power saw to cut a 6-foot-long bare bronze metal bar stock into 50 pieces. Each piece was individually "faced" using both a manual mill and lathe. A computer numerical control, or CNC, milling machine was used to profile and engrave the awards. Carpentry students, under the direction of instructors Joe Nazarene and Nelson Beard, created two-piece display boxes for each award, using pecan and walnut lumber that was cut on table and miter saws. After the boxes were sanded to a smooth surface, arts and crafts program students helped line the boxes with felt and attached patriotic red, white and blue ribbons to each.
North American Occupational Safety and Health Week started Monday at the Frances Perkins Building when Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health, spoke alongside Terrie Norris, president of the American Society of Safety and Engineers, and Jim Hopkins, secretary of the Canadian Society of Safety Engineering. Since 1997, safety and health leaders from far and wide have gathered with OSHA and alliance program participants to promote the common goal of getting workers home safe every day. Michaels highlighted OSHA's initiatives to prevent falls and heat injuries and also touted the agency's recent release of the hazard communication standard. This year's NAOSH week theme, "Safety, What Every Business Needs," was highlighted by the winners of ASSE's annual children's poster contest. "We know that a well-run business is efficient and productive when employers make sure that their workers are safe and healthy," said Dr. Michaels. "These posters are vivid representations of an ideal work environment in the eyes of the next generation of workers."
Enhanced Services for Unemployed Workers Now Available
The department announced $65 million in grants to 40 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia on May 7 to implement and/or continue Re-employment and Eligibility Assessments for Unemployment Insurance beneficiaries. The services funded by these grants include the development of a re-employment plan for UI claimants, a complete review of claimants' eligibility for Unemployment Insurance benefits, and a referral to re-employment services and/or training provided by the One-Stop Career Centers. This is the eighth year that the Labor Department has awarded grants through this initiative. Recent evaluations of state REA programs have shown that REAs reduce the number of weeks UI benefits are claimed by getting the unemployed back to work faster while saving states a substantial amount of money. The Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, signed by President Obama in February, will expand the use of REAs to federal Unemployment Insurance programs.
For the past seven months, the David L. Carrasco Job Corps Center in El Paso, Texas, has been keeping the planet green and helping veterans at the same time. Carrasco has been involved with the "PEPSICO/ Dream Machine Recycle Rally" project where recycled plastic bottles and soda cans are collected and then scanned. Each plastic bottle or can is worth one point each. The total collected per week is then uploaded to a laptop that PepsiCo provided. All points from all participating schools are tallied by Pepsi who makes a monetary contribution to the Post-9/11 Disabled U.S Veterans program. The project has taught the students not only the importance of recycling but of giving back to the many veterans in need.
"Soft skills" are personal attributes that enhance an individual's interactions, job performance and career prospects. Unlike "hard skills" which are about a person's skill set and ability to perform a certain type of task or activity soft skills relate to a person's ability to interact effectively with coworkers and customers and are broadly applicable both in and outside the workplace. Workforce3One held a Webinar highlighting training techniques and other useful information detailed in the Office of Disability Employment Policy's print and on-line publication titled: "Skills to Pay the Bills: Mastering Soft Skills for Workplace Success." Designed to help youth, including youth with disabilities, prepare for job interviews and employment, the publication focuses on the importance of communication, enthusiasm, teamwork, problem solving and professionalism in the workplace. The curriculum was created for youth development professionals working with ages 14-24. More than 200 people participated in the Webinar, which also included opportunities to provide feedback and highlight success stories. Workforce3One is an e-learning website sponsored by the Employment and Training Administration.
2012 National Disability Awareness Theme Announced
Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy Kathy Martinez unveiled the official theme of the October 2012 National Disability Employment Awareness Month: A Strong Workforce Is An Inclusive Workforce: What Can YOU Do? The theme, Martinez said, "promotes the benefit of an inclusive workforce that includes the talents of those of us with disabilities." This year's theme is tied to ODEP's Campaign for Disability Employment, and the early announcement of the theme is intended to give stakeholders nationwide an opportunity to plan events that showcase inclusive workforces.
Trudy Kinder's life has included working for an Idaho potato grower, serving in the military, and being a wife and mother. When the 63-year-old West Virginian decided to re-enter the workforce, she received assistance from the department-funded Mature Worker Program. With career counseling and placement help from the Southwestern Community Action Council, Kinder received on-the-job training in janitorial services at an independent living center. She then became a cook at the center, and is now thinking about going to college to become a dietician. Kinder, who had been out of the workforce for a number of years, said the Mature Worker Program "helped me gain the confidence to look for a job."
ETA Grant Jump Starts Bioscience Career
After 26 years in the printing industry, Jeff Marconet was laid off. The Ohioan decided to reinvent himself with the help of a bioscience grant funded by the Employment and Training Administration. Marconet enrolled in Columbus State Community College to study math, chemistry and physics, and earned a bioscience certificate. Marconet now works as a pharmaceutical technician producing drugs for a local company. "I have a great job, with a great company and great benefits," he said, adding, "I am very grateful for the grant funding." His education was paid by ETA's funding of BioOhio, a training partnership of colleges, educators, workforce agencies and pharmaceutical companies.
DOL in Action
Assistance for Laid Off Electrolux Workers
The department has awarded a $448,197 National Emergency Grant supplement to the Iowa Workforce Development to provide re-employment services to about 713 workers affected by layoffs at Electrolux in Jefferson and Webster City, Iowa, and three of its suppliers in Ames and Webster City, Iowa. The layoffs occurred between May 2008 and June 2011. "Any time a major employer shuts its doors, communities suffer," said Secretary Solis. The additional funding announced May 7 "will help support these workers and their community by providing continued training and job placement assistance," she said.
Grocery Chain to Correct Hazards in 60 Market Basket Stores
DeMoulas Super Markets Inc., in a settlement with the department, has agreed to correct all hazards and take substantive steps to enhance safety and health measures for employees of the grocery chain's more than 60 Market Basket stores in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. The settlement resolves litigation that followed citations issued by the department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration in October 2011 after OSHA inspections identified widespread fall and laceration hazards at the stores. As part of the litigation, the department's regional solicitor's office filed a complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission asking for enterprisewide correction of the hazards. As the result of settlement discussions with the solicitor's office, DeMoulas has signed the agreement to correct the cited hazards and take additional preventive actions. The company also has paid a total of $400,000 in fines.
Safety, Health Hazards Found at 2 Oil Drilling Sites
Houston-based Nabors Drilling USA LP has been cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration with serious, repeat and other-than-serious violations for exposing workers to safety and health hazards at an oil rig drilling site in the city of Beaumont and another in Liberty County, Texas. Serious violations include failing to follow manufacturers' safety requirements for emergency escape lines, and to provide guardrails on walkways next to hazardous equipment. Repeat violations include failing to guard floor holes and to provide access to emergency eyewash and shower stations. Similar violations were cited in 2009. Proposed penalties total $152,100.
Murphy Wall Products in Houston Cited for Safety Violations
Murphy Wall Products International in Houston has been cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration with 11 serious, three repeat and one other-than-serious violation for exposing workers to safety hazards. Serious violations include failing to replace a hook latch on a crane, failing to remove an industrial truck with damaged tires from service and to provide machine guarding for fan blades, pulleys and belts. Repeat violations involve failing to provide machine guarding for the bench grinder and its adjustable tongue. The company was cited in 2009 for similar violations. Proposed penalties total $90,090.
Trapped Worker Leads to Citations at Georgia Milling Company
Ware Milling Co. Inc. of Waycross, Ga., has been cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for 30 safety and health violations with penalties totaling $157,500. OSHA initiated an inspection in November 2011 after receiving a complaint that a worker had entered a milled cotton seed bin without preparation and appropriate equipment, and became trapped and hung from a lanyard for a lengthy time. "OSHA is committed to reducing amputation risks in the grain handling industry and ensuring that rescue measures are in place prior to silo entry," said Robert Vazzi, OSHA's area director in Savannah.
Houston-based AWC Frac Valves Inc. has been cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration with one willful, six serious and four other-than-serious violations for exposing workers at the Conroe, Texas, facility to safety hazards, including amputation dangers. The willful violation is failing to provide the required machine guarding to prevent employees from coming in contact with moving machinery parts such as vertical and manual lathes. Proposed penalties total $105,000.
Official Sentenced for Embezzling, Gambling with Union Funds
The former president of the Northeast District Council of the United Food and Commercial Workers in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., was sentenced this month to 18 months in prison and three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay more than $257,000 in restitution following a guilty plea to one count of embezzling union funds and one count of embezzling assets of a health care benefit program. Ernest Milewski, who was also a trustee of the union's health and welfare benefit fund, embezzled the money through various unauthorized transactions. Milewski admitted to having a gambling problem. A joint investigation into his actions was conducted by the department's Office of Labor-Management Standards, Employee Benefits Security Administration and Office of Inspector General.
OSHA Cites Packaging Manufacturer Following Worker's Death
Horn Packaging Corp. has been cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for 12 alleged safety violations following the death of a worker at the Lancaster, Mass.-based packaging manufacturer's facility. The worker was fatally injured on Nov. 7, 2011, while operating a corrugated box-making machine when he became entangled in an unguarded drive shaft that provides power to the machine. A willful citation was issued for a violation involving the unguarded shaft, which lacked proper protection to prevent workers from being exposed to its moving parts.
Florida Roofing Contractor Cited for Lack of Fall Protection
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited White Star Roofing Inc. with eight safety violations – one willful – that occurred while workers were putting a new roof on a building in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The willful is for allowing workers to operate on a steep roof without personal fall arrest systems. Proposed penalties total $62,400.
Georgia Metal Fabricator Cited for Combustible Residue
Southern Perfection Fabrication Holdings Inc. of Byron, Ga., has been cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration with 15 serious safety and health violations, including exposing workers to combustible residue and flammable liquids in the spraying and power coating areas without adequate precautions to prevent fires and explosions. Proposed penalties total $54,600
CertiFit Inc., based in Salt Lake City, has been cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for nine serious safety violations at the company's facility in San Antonio on Northeast Loop 410. OSHA's San Antonio Area Office initiated an inspection on Jan. 3 after an employee was killed when a delivery truck backed into a loading dock while the worker was preparing the dock for the delivery. "It is inexcusable that an employee's life was lost because the employer failed to provide a safe and healthful working environment," said Jeff Funke, OSHA's area director in San Antonio.
Cement Contractor Cited Following Casino Parking Garage Collapse
Cleveland Cement Contractors Inc. has been cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for six serious safety violations, including not following design and construction standards, following an investigation into the partial collapse of a casino's second floor parking garage during concrete placement. Several workers suffered sprains and strains during the Dec. 16 incident in downtown Cleveland. Proposed fines total $38,000.
Multiple Safety and Health Violations Found at Cabinetry Facility
Zamco Inc., doing business as Concepts in Cabinetry, has been cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration with 14 safety and health violations including one repeat for electrical, respiratory and other hazards at the company's facility on Lupon Road in St. Hedwig, Texas OSHA's San Antonio Area Office began an inspection on Feb. 9 as part of the agency's Site-Specific Targeting Program for industries with high injury and illness rates. Proposed penalties total $45,000.
Guam Employer Cited Following Forklift Operator Fatality
GM Logistics in Guam has been cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for five alleged serious and one other-than-serious safety violations following an inspection prompted by a Nov. 16, 2011, fatality. GM Logistics collects scrap metal for recycling. The fatality occurred while the crew was preparing to transport a 40-foot-long bus from a privately owned lot to a recycling facility. The employee was crushed when attempting to jump from a tipping forklift.
Scaffolding Hazards Lead to Fines for Stone Installer
Quality Stone Veneer Inc. in Refton, Pa., has been cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration with one willful, three repeat and four serious safety violations for scaffolding hazards found during stone installation activities at a residential construction site in Hegins, Pa. Violations include the company’s failure to implement a fall arrest system or provide guardrails for employees working on a scaffold more than 10 feet above the next lower level. OSHA has proposed $154,440 in penalties.
Chocolate Manufacturer Cited After Worker Amputation
Bazzini Holdings LLC was cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration following an incident in which a worker's arm was amputated at the company's Allentown, Pa., facility in November 2011. The OSHA inspection found three repeat, eight serious and four other-than-serious violations, including electrical hazards, a lack of machine guarding, failure to develop and implement a hazard communication program and personal protective equipment deficiencies. Bazzini Holdings manufactures fine chocolate and nut products. Proposed penalties total $56,400.
New Jersey Company Fined $186,000 for Health Hazards
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has proposed $186,000 in fines against Wilmington, Mass.-based UniFirst Corp, a uniform and laundry service, for seven serious safety and health violations, including some involving blood-borne pathogen and lead exposure hazards at its West Caldwell, N.J., facility. The violations include the company's failure to conduct proper training, provide hepatitis B vaccinations, and have engineering and work practice controls in place to eliminate or minimize exposure to blood-borne pathogens.