• A Week of Action: Living on the Minimum Wage: Guest blogger Ann Pratt, executive director of the Progressive States Network, recounts Connecticut state Sen. Gary Holder-Winfield's attempt to live on a minimum wage budget. Connecticut recently became the first state to increase its minimum wage to $10.10 per hour.
• Baseball and Work-Life Balance: Laura Fortman, principal deputy administrator for the Wage and Hour Division, weighs in on New York Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy's decision to take family leave for the birth of his son.
• Mining's Changing Culture 4 Years After UBB: Four years after 29 miners were killed at the Upper Big Branch Mine in West Virginia, Assistant Secretary for Mine Safety and Health Joseph Main assesses how the agency's numerous actions in its wake have led to a changing culture in the mining industry.
This week's phrase is I for ILO. The United States is a member of the International Labour Organization, a United Nations agency that promotes rights at work; quality employment; strong social protection programs; and productive dialogue among governments, employers and workers. The department's Bureau of International Labor Affairs serves as the lead agency to the ILO.
Serving as the keynote speaker for the National Journal's "Points of Leverage" conference on April 8, Secretary Perez focused on investments cultivated throughout a worker's life cycle. Ron Brownstein, Atlantic Media's editorial director, moderated the discussion, during which Perez elaborated on the Department of Labor's role throughout the many stages of life. Whether it's providing skills through apprenticeships, Youth CareerConnect, TAACCCT or American Job Centers, the department plays a critical role in training individuals of all ages and at different points in their career. "We're doing our best to strengthen and lift up the remarkable possibilities of apprenticeship in America... There is a bright future for people who work with their hands," Perez told the audience of about 100 people. He added that "skills development is lifelong" and community colleges play a critical role in "upskilling" the country's workforce.
Drawing a link between his civil rights background and his responsibilities as labor secretary, Secretary Perez delivered the capstone address at the University of the District of Columbia's Law Review Symposium on April 4, recognizing the 50th anniversary of the "war on poverty." Perez highlighted several areas where the department is working to fight poverty and economic inequality: the minimum wage, overtime, equal pay for women and long-term unemployment. He also spoke with pride about the new rule guaranteeing wage protections for home health care workers: "The home health workers are great examples of why I love my job. Because it's not that often that you come home, you talk to my 11-year-old and he says, 'Dad, what did you do today?' 'Well, I helped a couple million people get a raise.'"
President Obama's Interagency Taskforce to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons held its annual meeting on April 8 at the White House, and Secretary Perez attended on behalf of the Labor Department. The meeting was chaired by Secretary of State John Kerry and included several senior administration officials and Cabinet members, including White House Chief of Staff Dennis McDonough; Secretaries Sally Jewell (Interior), Anthony Foxx (Transportation) and Jeh Johnson (Homeland Security); Deputy National Security Advisor Tony Blinken; USAID Administrator Rajiv J. Shah; EEOC Chair Jacqueline A. Berrien; and Tina Tchen, executive director of the White House Council on Women and Girls. Perez spoke about his long experience with trafficking, and the great progress he has seen since his days as a young trial attorney at a time when almost nobody was talking about it. He stressed the importance of working with federal partners, state enforcement agencies, nonprofit organizations and foreign governments to address this complex issue.
More than 200 corporate executives gathered at Morgan's Wonderland in San Antonio, Texas, for the 2014 Disability Matters conference where, on April 9, Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs Director Patricia A. Shiu delivered the keynote address. The annual conference, held at the world's first ultra-accessible family theme park, brings together employers from across North America to discuss best practices for improving employment opportunities for people with disabilities. Shiu discussed the department's new rule designed to improve employment opportunities for qualified workers with disabilities by establishing, for the first time ever, a 7 percent employment goal for federal contractors. "This is the story of America," she said. "It's a story of ever-expanding rights, ever-deepening responsibilities and ever-increasing diversity."
Helping Families in Rhode Island
Last summer, Rhode Island became the third state to pass a law creating a paid leave insurance program. Women's Bureau Director Latifa Lyles and Regional Administrator Jackie Cooke met with officials of the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training's Office of Temporary Disability Insurance on April 7 to learn about the new Temporary Care Insurance program implemented in January. Later that day, Lyles joined Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island and the Women's Fund of Rhode Island to deliver a keynote address on what inequality means today for working women and their families. Lyles announced the White House Summit on Working Families, inviting participants to join the regional Summit event in Boston on May 19.
This year, Equal Pay Day fell on April 8, which marked the number of additional days in 2014 the average woman has to work to earn as much her male counterpart in 2013. In Houston, Women's Bureau Special Assistant Paulette Lewis joined state Rep. Senfronia Thompson and nearly 150 women's organizations to mark the day. Regional representatives co-hosted an Equal Pay Day event at the University of Missouri to inform women and men of the current wage gap and the importance of economic security. And in Illinois, Women's Bureau Program Analyst Deborah Pascal joined Gov. Pat Quinn at an Equal Pay Day rally in Chicago's Daley Plaza. The rally, hosted by the Chicago Equal Pay Day Coalition, was designed to raise awareness on the issue of equal pay. Similar events were held in Boston and San Francisco.
The Dallas and Chicago Occupational Safety and Health Administration regional offices signed an alliance with Consul General of the Philippines Leo M. Herrera-Lim recently in Chicago. The goal of the alliance is to establish a collaborative relationship to keep workers safe and healthy on the job by increasing access to education and training resources that promote worker rights and employer knowledge of their responsibilities under the Occupational Safety and Health Act. Alliance participants include Philippine nationals employed in Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Illinois, Wisconsin and Ohio. Some of the serious safety and health issues the alliance will focus on involve fall prevention, electrocution, heat illness, exposure to hazardous chemicals and struck-by dangers.
The Women's Bureau, along with several nonprofit organizations, hosted a Working Families Forum in Atlanta on April 10 to discuss pay equality and the challenges encountered by working families. More than 80 people attended the forum, which featured a panel of leaders from the Atlanta community, including Nan Orrock, state senator for Georgia's 36th District, and Carlis V. Williams, regional administrator for the Department of Health and Human Services' Administration for Children and Families. Williams summed up the theme of the forum by saying, "You shouldn't have to risk your job to take care of your family and you shouldn't have to risk your family to take care of your job."
From wages to working conditions to housing, the Wage and Hour Division regularly interacts with farmers. To help Vermont farmers and farmworkers get a head start on knowing and understanding their responsibilities and rights, representatives from the division's district and regional offices participated in an April 4 workshop sponsored by the Vermont Farm Bureau. "Navigating Federal Laws on Farm Labor" included presentations on coverage and exemptions under the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Migrant and Seasonal Workers Protection Act; the H-2A visa program; and the division's investigative process. More than 100 representatives from agricultural employers, government, business and advocacy organizations participated. "We're doing a little planting of our own, with our harvest being proper pay and treatment for workers," said WHD District Director Daniel Cronin.
"When it comes to employing qualified workers with disabilities and protected veterans... we're in the business of getting things done," Kathy Martinez said to members of the American Bar Association's Commission on Disability Rights in California on April 9. Martinez, the assistant secretary of labor for disability employment policy, was referencing recent updates to Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Vietnam Era Veterans' Readjustment Assistance Act both enforced by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs that will improve employment opportunities for people with disabilities and veterans. In a panel discussion that also covered recent enforcement actions on behalf of Rhode Islanders with intellectual disabilities, Martinez highlighted her agency's work supporting national efforts to promote community-based, integrated employment for people with significant disabilities.
The department played an active part in Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin's recent clergy summit. Phil Tom, director of the Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, encouraged faith leaders at the April 4 gathering to assist job seekers and vulnerable workers. Tom informed summit participants about the department's workforce development and worker protection programs, and urged them to get involved in a way that can help members of their congregations and communities get ahead and stay safe on the job. On April 7, Ben Seigel of the Employment and Training Administration participated in Cardin's grants workshop for nonprofits, encouraging organizational involvement in Department of Labor grants as partners or lead applicants. Several grants currently are open for competition, including Training to Work, YouthBuild and Ready to Work Partnerships.
Prioritizing gender equity was the focus of a panel held as part of the National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity's Policy Day on April 9. Women's Bureau Director Latifa Lyles joined Brenda Dann-Messier, assistant secretary of the Department of Education's Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education, in discussing the work of their respective departments. Both focused on efforts to ensure strong representation of women and girls in education and training opportunities to prepare them for high-growth, high-wage employment, including apprenticeship and other fields where women have been underrepresented historically, such as in science, technology, engineering and math. "The Women's Bureau and the department have made it a priority to ensure women have access to apprenticeship and other non-traditional training opportunities that will allow them to compete for jobs in the 21st century," Lyles said.
Eric Seleznow, acting assistant secretary for employment and training, traveled to Delaware on April 8 to attend the meeting of Delaware's Workforce Investment Board. The meeting served as an opportunity for Seleznow to share information about new programs available through federal workforce training funds. Seleznow talked about the importance of innovation in the delivery of training and employment services. Participating in the meeting was Delaware Lt. Gov. Matt Denn, representatives of the statewide workforce investment board, and ETA Regional Administrator Lenita Jacobs-Simmons.
Migrant, Seasonal Worker Training
The Wage and Hour Division in San Diego held a Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act's training on April 2 and 3 in Coachella and Imperial, Calif. The Riverside County Farm Bureau, the Imperial Valley Vegetable Growers Association and the Imperial County Farm Bureau hosted the events, with approximately 165 participants in attendance. The training included on-site registrations for farm labor contractors, crew leaders and supervisors.
Increase in Mine Fatality Rates
According to preliminary data released by the Mine Safety and Health Administration on April 10, mining fatality rates increased in 2013. The upswing was driven by a high number of deaths in the fourth quarter, when 15 miners died. In general, mining fatality and injury rates have been on a downward trend. Historically low fatality and injury rates were recorded in 2011, and 2012 fatal and injury rates fell even lower. MSHA will release a final version of calendar year data in July.
Construction contractors, the Federal Highway Administration, state and local government, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration partnered for a one-hour safety stand-down at construction sites in Georgia during National Highway Work Zone Awareness Week. From 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. on April 7-11, workers at construction sites voluntarily took part in work zone safety training focused on preventing worker fatalities and injuries from traffic objects and vehicles. Objects and vehicles striking workers are a leading cause of construction-related deaths. "Alliance members have demonstrated initiative and leadership by organizing this industrywide safety stand-down, which will heighten construction workers' awareness and ability to identify and help eliminate work-related hazards," said Teresa Harrison, OSHA's acting regional administrator for the Southeast.
Weekly UI Claims
The department reported that the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial Unemployment Insurance claims was 300,000 for the week ending April 5, a decrease of 32,000 from the previous week. The four-week moving average was 316,250, down 4,750 from the previous week's revised average.
Building a 21st Century Workforce Starts in High School
President Obama stopped by Bladensburg High School in Maryland on April 7 to announce the winners of the Youth CareerConnect program. The school, along with two other high schools in Prince George's County, is being awarded $7 million as part of the program. Overall, 24 Youth CareerConnect awards across the country will provide $107 million to high schools and their partners to strengthen the college- and career-readiness of America's high school students. To mark his first day on the job, Deputy Secretary of Labor Christopher P. Lu joined the president for the announcement. The program, administered by the department in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Education, will help prepare 2,500 high school graduates to succeed academically and graduate career ready in high-demand fields such as information technology and health care.
Strengthening the Connection Between Apprenticeships and Colleges
During the annual meeting of the American Association of Community Colleges on April 7 in Washington, D.C., Vice President Biden announced the launch of the Registered Apprenticeship College Consortium, a new effort that will allow graduates of Registered Apprenticeship programs to turn their on-the-job and classroom experiences into college credits toward an associate or bachelor degree. "Strengthening the common-sense connection between apprenticeships and colleges is just one of the ways that we are transforming apprenticeship for the 21st century economy," said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. "As a result of this exciting new consortium, graduates of a Registered Apprenticeship program will not only have better access to jobs that lead to a sustainable career, but they'll also have better access to an education all with little or no debt."
Every year, Equal Pay Day draws attention to the pay gap between men and women about 23 cents, according to U.S. Census data. In an April 8 event at the White House, President Obama delivered a clear message to gap skeptics: "It's not a myth; it's math." Obama signed an Executive Order barring federal contractors from retaliating against employees who discuss compensation. He also signed a Presidential Memorandum directing Secretary Perez to develop rules requiring federal contractors to submit compensation data to the department, including data by sex and race. Both actions will be enforced by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs and are designed to help combat pay discrimination, increase transparency, and strengthen enforcement of equal pay laws. Perez applauded the announcements, saying, "We are ready to take on these new responsibilities."
Business owner Mike Draper understands the value of paying his employees above the minimum wage. Draper started Raygun, a screen printing store, by selling shirts off the street in Des Moines, Iowa. On April 5, Draper showed Secretary Perez and Sen. Tom Harkin that his business not only pays its full-time employees $13.50 per hour, but is thriving more than ever with locations in downtown Des Moines, Iowa City and Kansas City, Mo. "The best value is time with your family, but it's hard to help with homework when you work the day shift and the night shift," said Perez, who received a personally designed shirt sporting the message "#RaiseTheWage" during his visit. Perez and Harkin, who were joined by Rep. Bruce Braley and Iowa state Sen. Jack Hatch at Raygun, then moved on to a tour of the Ottumwa Job Corps Center, where they saw first-hand students getting the skills they need to succeed in today's economy. Meeting with students training to be home health aides and network cable installers, Perez urged them to be "ambassadors of opportunity" for others who are trying to climb the ladder of opportunity. Rep. Dave Loebsack joined them on the tour.
The 2.2 million Americans who lost their unemployment benefits when the Emergency Unemployment Compensation program expired on Dec. 28, 2013, are one step closer to regaining that critical lifeline. The Senate, in a bipartisan vote on April 7, passed a six-month extension of the program. The House must now vote in order to send the bill to President Obama for his signature. In a statement following the vote, Secretary Perez said, "Every day of congressional inaction is another day of struggle for the 2.2 million people who are out of work through no fault of their own."
The Advisory Committee on Veterans' Employment, Training and Employer Outreach held its first quarterly meeting on April 10 to discuss improvements in the job market for veterans and changes to services that veterans receive at American Job Centers. Keith Kelly, assistant secretary of labor for veteran's employment and training, announced the following two positions: ACVETEO's new chairman is Mike Haney, PhD, an Air Force veteran, professor of Entrepreneurship and Emerging Enterprises at Syracuse University's Whitman School of Management and founder and National Executive Director of the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities program; ACVETEO's new vice chairman is Eric Eversole, a Navy veteran, U.S. Chamber of Commerce vice president and executive director of its Hiring Our Heroes program. Terry Gerton, deputy assistant secretary of labor for policy in the Veterans' Employment and Training Service, briefed attendees on the agency's priorities, including a focus on realigning the roles and responsibilities of staff at American Job Centers.
Refocusing the Jobs for Veterans State Grants Programs
To further improve employment services provided veterans, the department is refocusing the Jobs for Veterans State Grants programs to ensure that veterans and eligible spouses receive the best combination of employment and training services from the 2,500 American Job Centers across the country. The department's Veterans' Employment and Training Service and the Employment and Training Administration issued the refocusing guidance on April 10. All veterans receive priority of service at AJCs, with help from Disabled Veterans' Outreach Program specialists who provide intensive services to disabled veterans and Local Veterans' Employment Representatives who conduct employer outreach on behalf of veterans. The refocusing guidance will now allow DVOPs to better serve those veterans who have significant barriers to employment while the LVERs' focus will be on intensive employer outreach to facilitate veteran employment.
In testimony on April 9 before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies, Secretary Perez presented President Obama's proposed Fiscal Year 2015 budget for the department. "Our budget is an expression of our values," he told a bipartisan group of senators. Those values include "helping people acquire the skills they need to succeed in the jobs of today and tomorrow; helping employers to get those skilled workers so they can grow their businesses; making sure hard work is rewarded with a fair wage; and enhancing our enforcement capacity to protect workers' wages, benefits and safety on the job."
The third anniversary of the April 2011 Colombian Action Plan Related to Labor Rights was April 7, and the Department of Labor and the U.S. Trade Representative together issued an update that takes stock of the progress made toward the plan's goals and the challenges that remain. Before sending the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement to Congress, President Obama insisted that Colombia take certain concrete steps to address a number of serious labor concerns. These concerns included violence against Colombian labor union members and inadequate efforts to bring the perpetrators to justice, as well as insufficient protection of workers' rights. "Three years after the action plan was announced, we remain fully dedicated to its goals," writes Deputy Undersecretary of Labor for International Affairs Carol Pier in a blog about the release of the update. "And we are committed to working tirelessly, with the tools and resources at our disposal, to help improve respect for labor rights in Colombia, for the good of both Colombian workers and workers here at home."
Leaders Speak Out on Capitol Hill Against Child Labor, Forced Labor
While Secretary Perez visited the White House to attend President Obama's Interagency Taskforce to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, child labor and forced labor also were being discussed on Capitol Hill. Deputy Undersecretary of Labor for International Affairs Carol Pier sat on a panel on April 9 for a congressional briefing hosted by the Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking and The Child Labor Coalition. Pier shared her perspectives on ending the worst forms of child labor and discussed the Bureau of International Labor Affairs' efforts to combat exploitative child labor and improve labor rights. She also talked about ILAB's use of comprehensive technical assistance projects to address the root causes of these problems and highlighted the agency's annual "Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor" report, published each year since 2002. She also discussed the agency's list of goods and their source countries which ILAB has reason to believe are produced by child labor or forced labor in violation of international standards. The panel also featured a conversation with Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa, child-trafficking survivor James Kofi Annan and others.
It was all about the buzz on his first day on the job. Deputy Secretary of Labor Chris Lu, who took the oath of office on April 4, was at a Maryland high school surrounded by students laughing, talking and teasing. The students were charged up, awaiting the arrival of President Obama, who announced an innovative initiative to strengthen the college and career-readiness of America's high school students. Lu participated in the April 7 announcement of the Youth CareerConnect grant program at Bladensburg High School in Maryland, then made his way to the Department of Labor building in time for lunch in the cafeteria. Lu hit the tray line for a quick meal, and then stopped by several tables to meet new colleagues and let them know he plans to learn from their experiences as public servants. In the afternoon, Lu met with representatives of the business and labor communities to discuss one of the president's priorities raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10. After a long and busy day, Lu said, "There is no more exciting time to be at the department which is at the forefront of expanding opportunity across our nation."
Public-Private Partnership Leads to Blue-Collar Careers
A public-private partnership in Washington State is giving job seekers a shot at blue-collar careers and a steady wage. Vigor Industrial, which provides shipbuilding, ship repair and other industrial services in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska, spent $500,000 to convert its Seattle warehouse into a training center for potential employees enrolled in local community colleges. Working through the seven American Job Centers managed by the Workforce Development Council of Seattle-King County, Vigor received help with recruitment, assessment and case management services. "Meeting industry need with talented workers is the highest priority of American Job Centers and local workforce investment boards," said Marlena Sessions, the council's CEO. Program participants in turn are able to use Individual Training Account vouchers funded by the Workforce Investment Act to help cover the cost of tuition,
fees and supplies. "The partnership creates a greater pool of skilled workers in our community and a pipeline for those seeking higher paying jobs," said Vigor's Sue Haley, senior vice president of human resources. With welding jobs starting at $14 an hour and annual pay nearing $70,000 with overtime, it's no surprise that 14 of the first 19 graduates quickly landed new jobs. One beneficiary of the partnership is McKenzie Rainville-Barnett, who switched from cosmetology to welding when she heard about the program. "I am a firm believer in the American dream and paying my own way," she said. After graduation, Rainville-Barnett entered the boilermaker union's apprenticeship program and was hired by Vigor to help build the superstructure of a ferry boat.
DOL in Action
McDonalds's Franchise Operators Agree to Pay Back Wages
McDonald's franchise operators Gold Hat Inc. and Gold Hat II Inc., which have the same owner and are based in Annapolis, Md., have agreed to pay $254,224 in back wages and liquidated damages to 138 employees. A Wage and Hour investigation determined that violations of the minimum wage, overtime and child labor provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act occurred at nine restaurant locations throughout Maryland. The employer also agreed to pay $4,300 in penalties for child labor violations.
A $2,131,425 National Emergency Grant supplemental award to provide training and other re-employment services to oystermen to prepare for careers in other industries has been awarded to the state of Florida. Workers eligible for these services participated in the temporary jobs component of this emergency grant, which was provided in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Debby in June 2012. "During the cleanup and restoration phase of this Tropical Storm Debby grant, it became apparent that the future of oyster harvesting in the Apalachicola Bay is uncertain," said Secretary Perez. "This additional funding from the Labor Department will provide retraining so members of this community can obtain employment in the job sectors of the future." These supplementary funds are being awarded to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity and will provide re-employment services for approximately 94 of the temporary workers.
Two Workers Injured at New Jersey Manufacturing Facility
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Precision Custom Coatings LLC for safety hazards at its fabric manufacturing facility in Totowa, N.J. Investigators found one willful, one repeat and 12 serious safety violations, including failure to provide required machine guarding. OSHA's investigation began in September 2013 in response to a referral from the Totowa Police Department after a machine operator's hand was crushed while moving materials through a roller machine. During the investigation, OSHA was contacted about another incident where an employee suffered a partial hand amputation while performing machine maintenance. Violations included failure to use danger tags to prevent burn hazards and inadequate lockout/tagout procedures. Penalties of $185,400 have been proposed.
New York Paper Mills Face Nearly $300,000 in Fines
Little Falls, N.Y., paper manufacturer Burrows Paper Corp. faces $298,100 in proposed fines from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for exposing its workers to safety hazards at two work sites. Inspections of two paper mills by OSHA's Syracuse Area Office identified machine guarding, electrical, fall and combustible dust hazards. Several of the mechanical and electrical hazards were similar to those cited by OSHA in 2010 and 2011 at company mills in Little Falls and Lyons Falls, N.Y.
Michigan Farmer Ordered to Comply With Migrant Housing Standards
A federal judge has ordered Darryl Howes and his business, Darryl Howes Farms, located in Copemish, Mich., to stop misclassifying migrant workers as independent contractors, to comply with the record-keeping provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act and housing standards of the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act, and to cease interfering with Department of Labor investigations. The opinion and accompanying order, issued by U.S. District Court Judge Gordon J. Quist, upholds the department's findings of record-keeping and housing violations at Howes' 60-acre cucumber farm and migrant housing camp during the 2011 harvest. Following investigations by the Wage and Hour Division, the department filed a complaint in federal court in 2012.
Workers Exposed to Amputation Hazards at Illinois Manufacturer
Interlake Mecalux Inc., a manufacturer of storage and racking systems, has been cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for 17 serious safety violations. OSHA proposed penalties of $71,700 following an October 2013 inspection of the Melrose Park, Ill.-based plant. Eleven serious safety violations were cited, including the exposure of workers to amputation hazards by failing to protect them adequately through lockout/tagout devices during machinery servicing; failing to train workers in energy control procedures; failing to inspect procedures annually; and lack of machine guarding on presses and other mechanical equipment.
Concrete Services Inc. has agreed to pay $300,172 following an investigation by the Wage and Hour Division. Investigators found that, for a 2-year period beginning in November 2011, the Las Vegas-based employer paid field workers on a piece rate without regard to the required overtime rates for hours worked in excess of 40 in a workweek. This is a violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Concrete Services agreed to pay $4,434 in minimum wages found due to 15 employees and $145,652 in overtime wages to 106 workers. The employer also agreed to pay an equal amount in liquidated damages to the affected workers. Concrete Services is a construction contractor specialized in pouring concrete foundations for new community residential homes.
Company Failed to Protect Workers From Falls, Inspection Finds
Case Development LLC, the general building contractor of an apartment complex in Norman, Okla., was cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for serious and repeat violations following a November 2013 inspection under the agency's Regional Emphasis Program on construction fall hazards. OSHA found the company failed to protect workers from dangerous falls and other serious hazards. Falls are the leading cause of workplace fatalities in the construction industry, and failing to provide fall protection is one of the 10 most frequently cited OSHA violations. Two repeat violations were cited for failing to protect workers in aerial lifts from falls and failing to require fall protection for workers conducting residential construction. Two serious violations were cited for failing to ensure workers exposed to overhead hazards wore head protection and that ladders were used in a safe manner. Proposed fines total $90,600.
Care Home Operator in California to Pay Back Wages
Adult residential care home operator Cabrera's Guest Home has agreed to pay $90,829 in minimum wage and overtime back wages to seven employees working at the employers' Cabrera's Guest Home Care #2 and Lily's Guest Home. An investigation by the Wage and Hour Division found the Stockton, Calif., employer in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act's minimum wage, overtime and record-keeping provisions. Investigators found that Cabrera's Guest Home paid the affected workers below the federal minimum wage and without regard to overtime compensation for hours worked beyond 40 in a workweek for a period of two years beginning in January 2011.
Jarvis Metals Recycling Inc. of Lubbock, Texas, has been cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for 24 safety and health violations with a proposed penalty of $64,400. Specifically, the company was cited for exposing workers to unguarded machinery and electrical, noise, chemical and fall hazards. A November 2013 inspection was initiated under the agency's Site Specific Targeting Program that directs enforcement resources to high-hazard workplaces where high injury and illness rates occur. Some of the violations included failure to maintain electrical components in accordance with standards for safe electrical installations; guard industrial machinery; install a complete guardrail system; and train workers about lead and cadmium hazards, as well as fall and struck-by hazards while operating powered industrial trucks with attachments.
Tank Parts Manufacturer Exposed Workers to Amputation Hazards
EICA Industries Inc. of Fort Worth, Texas, has been cited with 20 serious and other-than-serious violations with a proposed penalty of $46,000 by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for exposing workers to preventable struck-by and amputation hazards. OSHA's Fort Worth Area Office began an inspection in December 2013 under the agency's Regional Emphasis Program on Fabricated Metal Products, which focuses on machinery and other serious hazards in the metal fabrication industry that can cause serious harm or death. The inspection found that workers were exposed to struck-by hazards associated with rigging and moving heavy metal with overhead cranes. Workers also were exposed to amputation hazards from a failure to provide machine guarding and to develop and implement lockout/tagout procedures. During the five-year period from January 2006 through December 2011, Region VI investigated 46 fatal accidents at metal fabrication establishments, which resulted in 48 deaths.
Under terms of a consent judgment, Citywide Security Services Inc. has agreed to pay $14,760 in overtime back wages to 30 security guards of the Cleveland-based company operating as Citywide Protection Services. The company also will pay $5,000 in civil money penalties for willful and repeat violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act. An investigation by the Wage and Hour Division found the company failed to pay security guards overtime at time and one-half their regular rates of pay for all hours worked over 40 in a workweek. The investigation also found that the company illegally requested workers to return overtime back wages due to them following a 2011 investigation.
Railway Ordered to Pay Whistleblower $352,000 in Back Wages
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has found Wisconsin Central Limited railway in violation of the Federal Railroad Safety Act for terminating a conductor who reported a workplace injury that occurred in Manitowoc, Wis. OSHA has ordered Wisconsin Central, a subsidiary of the Canadian National Railway, to pay the conductor $352,082.75. Included in the amount is $217,082 in back wages, applicable employment taxes, $60,000 in compensatory damages and $75,000 in punitive damages. The company also will be required to reinstate the worker, pay reasonable attorney's fees, remove disciplinary information from the employee's personnel record and provide whistleblower rights information to workers.
Constructor to Pay $115,000 in Back Wages in Saipan
GPPC Inc. has agreed to pay $115,619 in minimum wage and overtime back wages to 209 workers in Saipan after the Wage and Hour Division found the Northern Mariana Islands-based general construction company in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act. GPPC failed to pay at least a minimum wage of $5.55 per hour and proper overtime premium from Feb. 18, 2012 through Oct. 17, 2013. Workers were deducted 30 minutes from their scheduled shift without actually taking a continuous break for that time. The company mistakenly believed that a small rest period of 15 minutes in the morning and in the afternoon could be deducted from an employee's daily hours of work. A balance of $4,432 remains unpaid to 13 unallocated workers. Workers who have not been paid can call 670-233-0740 for information on how to receive their back wage payment, even if they have already returned to their country of origin.
Nuclear Worker Assistance
Workers in New Mexico who became ill as a result of nuclear weapons industry work were paid a visit on April 8 and 9 by staff from the Office of Workers' Compensation Programs. Following two town hall events, OWCP staff assisted claimants filing for benefits under the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act, which provides compensation and medical benefits to employees who became ill as a result of working in the nuclear weapons industry. To date, $1.25 billion in EEOICPA compensation and medical benefits has been paid to more than 11,952 claimants living in New Mexico, while more than $10.2 billion has been paid nationwide.