WASHINGTON — U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez signed a consular partnership agreement yesterday with Nestor E. Mendez, Ambassador of Belize to the United States.
Under the agreement, the enforcement field offices of the Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Wage and Hour Division will collaborate with the embassy and consulates of Belize to provide Belizean nationals working in the United States and their employers with information about U.S. health, safety and wage laws.
"We want all workers in the United States to know they are protected by our labor laws, and we want employers to know we have tools to help them comply with those laws," said Secretary Perez. "By signing this consular partnership agreement, we and the Embassy of Belize agree to work together to make sure that workers from Belize can get assistance when they need it."
"We wish to congratulate the Department of Labor for the creative way of reaching migrant worker populations in this country and informing them of their rights, by partnering with the Embassies of their countries of origin," said Ambassador Mendez. "This declaration is a tangible manifestation of the commitment of both of our Governments to protect the rights of all workers, and in this special case, the rights of Belizean workers in the United States."
(From left) Principal Deputy Administrator of the Wage and Hour Division, Laura Fortman; Ambassador Mendez; Secretary Perez; and Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health, Dr. David Michaels meet to sign the consular partnership agreement between the United States and Belize.
(From left) Secretary Perez and Ambassador Mendez during the consular partnership agreement signing ceremony on Feb. 10, 2014.
Consular partnerships like this one can help the department enforce U.S. laws more effectively, especially in high-risk and low-wage industries where violations are more likely to occur. They also help OSHA and WHD identify problems faced by at-risk workers and better target their outreach campaign efforts. Currently the department also has agreements with Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru and the Philippines.
More information about the department's consular partnership program is available at http://www.dol.gov/dol/laborrightsweek.htm.