Honoring Movement's Pioneers
No matter where you are — across the country or around the world — mark your calendar for Monday, March 26 at 10 a.m. EDT. As the Labor Department commemorates our 100 years of history, we're going to make history, too. Join in a live webcast as Secretary Solis formally inducts "The Pioneers of the Farm Worker Movement"
into the prestigious Labor Hall of Honor. She will also dedicate the department's auditorium in honor of farm worker union leader César Chávez. Actor Michael Peña, who has been cast to play Chávez in an upcoming motion picture about the beloved organizer's life, will serve as the event's master of ceremonies. Hundreds are expected. Don't be left out. Watch it on the web!
The Poet Secy
The nation's first Secretary of Labor was William B. Wilson. Born in Scotland, he immigrated with his coal miner father to Pennsylvania. When he was nine years old, he went to work as a breaker boy in the mines and continued into young adulthood as a coal miner, later becoming Secretary-Treasurer of the United Mine Workers and a member of the
U.S. Congress. Appointed by President Woodrow Wilson (no relation), Secretary Wilson oversaw a department with 2000 employees working in four bureaus: Children, Immigration, Naturalization and Labor Statistics, along with a Division of Conciliation. What many people didn't know was that he was also a talented amateur poet. On his departure from DOL he gave signed copies of his "little book" of poetry to all employees as a token of his esteem.
Commitment to Hiring Veterans
Secretary Solis called on the nation's employers to renew their commitment to hiring veterans after the Bureau of Labor Statistics on Tuesday reported little change in 2011 to the unemployment rates for all veterans and for Gulf War-era II veterans, in particular, compared to the previous year. "This annual report underscores the importance and urgency of President Obama's initiative to increase employment among veterans," she said, adding that "the best way to honor our veterans is to employ them." The following day, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for the Veterans' Employment and Training Service Ismael Ortiz told Congress that President Obama and Secretary Solis "are committed to ensuring that the men and women who serve this country have the employment support, assistance and opportunities they deserve." Ortiz told a House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies that much of this support stems from departmental programs. In 2011, VETS provided more than 4,200 Transition Assistance Program Employment Workshops to nearly 145,000 military participants at home and abroad.
Virginia is for Jobs Lovers
Faith communities are playing an important role in economic recovery in the Norfolk-Virginia Beach metropolitan area of Virginia. To see this work firsthand and encourage more of it, the White House hosted a Faith and Neighborhoods in Action symposium at Norfolk State University on Tuesday. Several federal agencies participated in the event, which drew nearly 300 local leaders, including from the department's Center for Faith-based and
AFSCME Thanks WHD
Deputy Administrator for the Wage and Hour Division Nancy Leppink met with representatives of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees in Puerto Rico last week to discuss the agency's work and answer questions. The AFSCME members thanked Leppink and WHD for their work in enforcing federal wage and hour laws. AFSCME advocates for fairness in the workplace, excellence in public services, and prosperity and opportunity for all working families.
WB at Training Conference
This week, Lucia Bruce, Women's Bureau regional administrator in Philadelphia, served as the keynote speaker for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Forest Service during its Second Annual Women's Day of Training in Newtown Square, Pa. The theme of the training was Women's Education = Women's Empowerment. Regional USDA employees viewed her presentation in person and through videoconferencing, learning about the history of women in the workforce, equal pay and higher paying jobs for women.
Martinez Addresses Minnesota Businesses and Students
Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy Kathy Martinez traveled to Minneapolis on Tuesday, where she delivered a keynote speech to more than 250 employers, diversity directors and human resource professionals at an event sponsored by the Minnesota Business Leadership Network. Her presentation was part of a multicultural forum preceding the largest diversity and inclusion conference in the nation. While in the Twin Cities, Martinez also had the opportunity to talk about the intrinsic value of work with future leaders during a luncheon for 80 participants in Project SEARCH, a work-experience program for students with disabilities in their last year of high school.
Strong Cities, Strong Communities
Expanding economic growth and efficiently managing federal dollars in support of struggling local communities is the goal of the Strong Cities Strong Communities initiative. As part of this effort, the White House convened federal and local government officials as well as representatives from the philanthropy and economic development communities last week to discuss building a community of practice around local development initiatives. Through the SC2 program, federal government officials have been deployed to one of six pilot cities (Chester, Pa.; Cleveland, Ohio; Detroit, Mich.; Fresno, Calif.; Memphis, Tenn., and New Orleans, La.) to assist in creating partnerships among local community organizations, anchor institutions, businesses, foundations and other government agencies, with the goal of leveraging federal investments and increasing economic impacts.
Council on Foundations
Addressing a group of some of the largest philanthropic foundations in the country, Deputy Secretary Harris spoke on Thursday at the Council on Foundations "Foundations on the Hill" event in Washington, D.C. Harris touted the work the Labor Department is doing with the non-profit and charitable sectors, including joint evaluations of programs, coordination on technical assistance for grants, and public-private partnerships like the "Summer Jobs+" program. He also highlighted the need for evidence-based decision making when allocating program resources, and asked the non-profit community to continue its partnerships with the Labor Department to make sure our activities deliver the desired outcomes for America's workers.
Job Training Top of Mind for Workforce Pros in the Big Easy
Attendees of the National Association of Job Training and Assistance Conference in New Orleans this week heard from Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employment and Training Jane Oates on a wide range of current Labor Department efforts. Oates discussed the need to leverage existing resources as governments at all levels continue to face difficult budget decisions, how the Labor Department is helping by providing states with more flexibility, and what the recent announcement of the proposed Universal Displaced Worker program would mean at the state level. The audience, made up of staff from state and local workforce development boards, also had the chance to share best practices to enhance employment and training programs funded under the Workforce Investment Act.
Investing in Local Communities
Connecting federal policies and programs to state and local communities is vital to leveraging resources that expand investments and stimulate innovation in local communities. This was the key message that Jay Williams, director of the administration's Office of Recovery for Auto Communities and Workers, stressed in his keynote address to the International Economic Development Council's "Federal Economic Forum" in Alexandria, Va., this week. The event brought together economic development professionals from across the country to focus on local and state efforts to create jobs and grow the economy. Williams highlighted efforts by his office and demonstrated how the recent growth resurgence in manufacturing has far-reaching positive implications for so many of our nation's recovering communities.
Community Outreach in Baltimore
In an effort to improve the social and economic outcomes for the residents of the Park Heights and Howard Park neighborhoods in Baltimore, Md., Assistant Secretary of Labor for Policy Bill Spriggs met with local community and political leaders to discuss opportunities available through federal programs. Dr. Spriggs shared information about the work the Labor Department has done to address the needs of the local population including investments in several projects targeting youth and adult ex-offenders and addressing youth violence. Community leaders were encouraged to work together in applying for grants, and were given the latest on grant funding opportunities with the department. This conversation is an important part of the outreach the department is undertaking to meet the needs of local communities.
Solis Meets Community Clinic Reps
Community clinics are a key source of efficient health care services that provide preventative care for their patients. Around the country these clinics are preparing for the full implementation of the Affordable Care Act with the launch of the health care exchanges scheduled for 2014. This week, the Community Clinic Association of Los Angeles County, came to Washington D.C. to meet with Secretary Solis and Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employment and Training Jane Oates to discuss steps to prepare their local workforce for the expected influx of patients newly covered by health insurance.
Championing STEM Jobs
Women's Bureau Director Sara Manzano-Díaz delivered the keynote address for a Student Parent Success Initiative event at the Institute for Women's Policy Research on Tuesday. The institute recently released a report on increasing opportunities for low-income women and student parents in science, technology, engineering and math careers at community colleges. Manzano-Díaz spoke about the important role that community colleges have in preparing our future workforce for STEM jobs. "The Women's Bureau is committed to bringing more women into math and science professions and fighting for equal pay for equal work," she told the audience. Later in the week, Manzano-Díaz participated in a U.S. Department of Energy Twitter chat focused on women in STEM careers.
Triangle @ 101
In commemoration of the 101st anniversary of the deadly fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York City, the department is again this year providing a website and audio tour optimized for smartphones. With audio narrated by Secretary Solis and other senior DOL officials, the website highlights 21 locations throughout the New York City metropolitan area that played a role in the March 25, 1911 fire. Users can read and hear about the events that led up to the fire, its victims and the aftermath. The fire killed 146 workers and was an early tipping point in the struggle to ensure basic health and safety precautions in the 20th century workplace. "The events of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire and their impact over the last century are chilling reminders of the importance of the work of the Labor Department," said Secretary Solis. "As we continue to ensure that every company takes responsibility for the safety and health of its workers, we must also remember that although much has improved over the last 101 years, these images are still relevant today."
Upcoming Deadlines & Events
Free Retirement Webcasts for Small Businesses
The Employee Benefits Security Administration is hosting two upcoming free webcasts for small businesses designed to increase awareness and understanding of the responsibilities associated with operating a private sector retirement plan. "Getting It Right – Know Your Fiduciary Responsibilities" webcasts will take place on Tuesday, March 27 and Wednesday, March 28 from 1 to 2:30 p.m. EDT.
CFBNP — Los Angeles Area Job Clubs & Career Ministries Roundtable Discussion
EBSA — Getting It Right - Know Your Fiduciary Responsibilities Webcast Part I
EBSA — Getting It Right - Know Your Fiduciary Responsibilities Webcast Part II
EBSA — Taking the Mystery Out of Retirement Planning Workshop
EBSA — Health Benefits Laws Compliance Assistance Seminar
EBSA — Voluntary Fiduciary Correction Program
ETA — H-2B Final Rule Webinar
ETA — H-2B In Person Briefing
OFCCP — The 16 Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action Obligations
OFCCP — Building Partnerships for the Community
OFCCP — Community Based Organizations Roundtable Collaboration
OFCCP — Community Outreach and Education Event
OFCCP — Compliance Assistance Seminar
OFCCP — Development of Written Affirmative Action Programs
OFCCP — How to Avoid Costly Employment Practices
OFCCP — Interagency Roundtable
OFCCP — Maintaining Applicant Flow Data
OFCCP — Preparing for an OFCCP Evaluation (Service and Supply)
OFCCP — Retaliation Complaints
OFCCP — Status of Pending Compliance Evaluations of Entities that Participate in TRICARE Networks
OFCCP — Service and Supply Compliance Assistance Seminar for First Time Contractors
OFCCP — VEVRAA/Disability Regulations
OLMS — Compliance Seminar
OWCP — Town Hall Meeting to Assist Nuclear Weapons Workers
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Women, Children and Poverty
To mark Women's History Month, television journalist Tavis Smiley convened an all-woman panel of forward thinking experts last Sunday at New York University's Skirball Center for the Performing Arts for a thought-provoking conversation called "Made Visible: Women, Children and Poverty." Secretary Solis joined Smiley and speakers Nely Galán, Founder, The Adelante Movement; Dr. Julianne Malveaux, economist and president, Bennett College; Suze Orman, America's leading authority on personal finance; Cecelia FireThunder, former president, Oglala Sioux Tribe; Faye Wattleton, former national president of Planned Parenthood; Randi Weingarten, president, American Federation of Teachers; and Sheryl WuDunn, Pulitzer Prize–winning writer and co-author of "Half the Sky." The conversation outlined the root causes of poverty among women and children and explored real solutions to combat it.
OFCCP Delivers Fairness in Hiring with FedEx Settlement
Shipping giant FedEx has agreed to enterprise-wide hiring reform after a seven-year investigation by the Labor Department that resulted in the largest hiring discrimination penalty since 2004. The hiring practices affected 21,635 workers who were discriminated against on the basis of sex, race and national origin at 23 facilities in 15 states. The company has agreed to pay $3 million in back wages and interest. FedEx also has agreed to extend job offers to 1,703 of the affected workers as positions become available. "Being a federal contractor is a privilege and means you absolutely, positively cannot discriminate, not when you are profiting from taxpayer dollars," said Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs Director Patricia A. Shiu. "Under this agreement, FedEx will have to really examine and revamp its hiring practices across the entire company."
New Chemical Labeling Helps Workers, Businesses
To better protect workers from hazardous chemicals, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has revised its Hazard Communication Standard, aligning it with the United Nations' global chemical labeling system. The new standard will result in an estimated $475.2 million in enhanced productivity for U.S. businesses each year. In addition, an estimated 43 deaths and 585 injuries and illnesses will be prevented annually. The rule, Secretary Solis said, will provide "consistency and clarity of hazard information that workers receive, making it safer for workers to do their jobs and easier for employers to stay competitive in the global marketplace."
Affordable Care Act Turns 2, Solis Takes 3
This week marks two years since the landmark Affordable Care Act was signed into law. Millions who would not have had health insurance now have coverage because of the law, and in 2014 health care exchanges will expand the opportunity to purchase affordable coverage. Secretary Solis joins us this week to answer questions about what has changed since the law was passed and what we can expect in the coming years.
It has been two years since ACA passed. What has changed? "So many things have changed for the better. Our young people have better access to insurance coverage, which is a huge relief for many families. Insurers have to cover routine health screenings for women, and I am confident that this is saving lives every day. And of course, we continue to work with fellow federal agencies to get the health care exchanges up and running so that by 2014 everyone will have access to affordable coverage."
Which of the implementation pieces to date are you most proud of? "I am very pleased with what the law has allowed us to do for young people. Thanks to the ACA, insurance providers can no longer deny coverage to anyone under the age of 19 based on a pre-existing condition. Children are also able to stay on a parent's health insurance until the age of 26. Two and a half million young adults already have benefited from this provision, which gives them a leg up as they enter the workforce and, in some cases, begin paying off student loans."
How will the new health care exchanges help workers, including those who already have insurance? "I have said many times that a 'good job' is one that includes health care benefits. The reality is that there are many workers who do not have access to employer-sponsored health care. For those people, the exchanges will mean an opportunity to buy affordable insurance. Workers who already have insurance may find that they are able to purchase it for less than they are paying through their employer, especially if they qualify for subsidies in the exchange."
Check out a new video from the Employee Benefits Security Administration to find out how you can get answers to questions about the ACA, health care and retirement benefits.
International Visitors Tour Child Development Center
A small group of educators from the Netherlands joined a senior associate from the National Association for the Education of Young Children and members of the General Services Administration Early Childhood Education Division for a tour of the Labor Department's Esther Peterson Child Development Center on Tuesday. Visitors discussed educational best practices both in the U.S. and in the Netherlands, explored the center and observed classroom activities. "We are honored to have been selected to host this visit. We are very proud of the high level of care and learning that take place at our school every day, and we are thrilled to be able to showcase it to our special guests," said Jennifer Beatty, principal of the center, which is managed by Nobel Learning Communities and is accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children.
DOL Honors Iqbal Masih Awardee
Documentary filmmaker Len Morris received the 2011 Iqbal Masih Award for the Elimination of Child Labor during a ceremony on Tuesday at the Labor Department headquarters. The Award, named in honor of child advocate Iqbal Masih, recognizes extraordinary effort, leadership, and courage in combating child labor. "This award recognizes the life's work of Len Morris in raising public awareness about the plight of working children around the globe," said Deputy Undersecretary of Labor for International Affairs Sandra Polaski.
It Happened On The Hill
Secretary Presents DOL's Priorities
In her testimony before the House Education and Workforce Committee on Wednesday, Secretary Solis presented the Labor Department's priorities for fiscal year 2013. She highlighted the department's focus on programs that have touched all corners of the country in job creation, worker safety and investments already contributing to our economic recovery. "The economy is improving, and we are seeing broad employment gains. But we cannot stop now. We must continue to innovate and build upon what we know works, because we will not be satisfied until every American who wants work can find a job." Accompanying the secretary in the audience as a testament to these efforts was Nate Ford, a graduate of the Flint-Genesee Job Corps, who applied his training skills to a 3-month internship at Habitat for Humanity that led to a full-time job.
WHD Testifies on Companionship and Live-In Worker Regulations
Nancy Leppink, deputy administrator for the Wage and Hour Division testified on Tuesday before the House Subcommittee on Education and the Workforce on the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would provide minimum wage and overtime protections to nearly 2 million workers who provide in-home care services for the elderly and infirm under the Fair Labor Standards Act. "The growth in the home-care industry and in the number of workers has not translated into a growth in earnings for in-home care workers," Leppink said. Ninety-two percent of these workers are women and on a daily basis they provide critical in-home health care services such as tube feeding, wound care, or assistance with physical therapy.
Solis Participates in Meeting to Address Human Trafficking
Secretary Solis attended an annual meeting of the president's interagency task force to monitor and combat human trafficking last Thursday at the White House. She reiterated the Labor Department's commitment to combating human trafficking in all its forms, outlining three strategic areas that frame the department's work on this issue: law enforcement, victims services, and transnational engagement, monitoring and research. The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 authorized the president to establish the task force, which meets annually to review progress and coordinate policy for the year ahead. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton chaired last week's meeting.
MSHA Response to Miners' Complaints Nets Results
Federal mine inspectors issued 253 citations and orders last month during impact inspections at 17 of the nation's mines. Five of those mines were selected in part on the basis of hazard complaints lodged anonymously to the Mine Safety and Health Administration. One of those complaints alleged the existence of unsafe conditions at Upper Cedar Grove No. 4 Mine near Wharncliffe, W.Va. Responding the following day, mine inspectors issued 23 citations and orders, including one for tipping off miners underground of the inspection team's arrival. "I am disturbed about the continuation of advance notice of mine inspections," said MSHA Assistant Secretary Joseph Main. "It appears that current penalties are not sufficient to deter this type of conduct."
News You Can Use
Wage and Hour Division Opens Field Office in Great Falls, Mont.
The Wage and Hour Division has opened a field office in Great Falls, Mont., to connect employees, employers, community organizations and others with resources and assistance to ensure compliance with federal wage and hour laws. Assistance is available in English and Spanish by phone at 406-453-1332 or in person at 21 N. Third St., Room 416.
Oates at Global Green Growth Employment Symposium
Speaking before an audience of global human resource leaders assembled in Washington, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employment and Training Jane Oates outlined how newly implemented training programs are helping the American workforce compete internationally. "By developing strong partnerships with other federal agencies, employers, and education providers, we were able to provide training for clean energy jobs that not only makes our workforce more competitive now, but will continue to provide that competitive advantage in the future as our economic recovery accelerates," said Oates. The two-day Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Human Capital Policies for Green Growth and Employment Project Symposium held this week was hosted by the U.S. Department of Education, and convened representatives from 16 APEC member economies in Asia, North America, and Latin America as well as international organizations active in human resource and sustainable development issues.
International Green Scene
U.S.-Canada-European Commission Release Green Economy Paper
The Labor Department, the European Commission, and Human Resources and Skills Development Canada released a white paper on Wednesday based on discussions held at last February's trilateral green economy roundtable in Washington, D.C. The paper, "U.S.-Canada-European Commission Trilateral Green Economy Roundtable Anniversary Paper," includes updates and new results on current initiatives; helping companies like Urban Youth Green Farmers expand and obtain coaching; sharing promising practices like the initiative to rebuild a community by using green principles to promote energy efficiency; and lessons learned. The roundtable brought together experts from governments, trade unions, industry and nongovernmental organizations.
DOL Working for You
CFBNP Support Helps Former Marine Help Others
Former Marine Douglas Owens landed a well paying security job after attending a job club that partners with the department's Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships. At the Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program Job Club, Owens networked, learned effective interview techniques and obtained job leads. Two weeks later, he was hired by a large security company as a supervisor. Owens has returned to the club to mentor others and said he has personally recruited 56 people to join his company.
Job Corps Grad Restores Capitol Dome
Each night, Job Corps graduate Antonio Alford looks out at the Washington, D.C., skyline from 180 feet up and thinks to himself, "I am honored to be working on restoring the most important building in America." Alford is foreman of a crew of 20 workers who work from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. restoring the outside of the rotunda located beneath the Capitol dome. He graduated in 2002 from the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades Painting Pre-Apprenticeship Program at the Shriver Job Corps Center in Massachusetts. Alford since has traveled America, working on industrial, commercial and decorative painting projects. He wants the public to know that "the very good money and benefits I enjoy as a union painter would not have been possible without the Job Corps program."
DOL in Action
$12 Million in Employment Grants for Formerly Incarcerated Females
The Labor Department announced the availability of approximately $12 million in grants to provide workforce development and support services for formerly incarcerated adult and youth females as they make the transition from justice facilities back to their communities. "Communities benefit when formerly incarcerated individuals are able to smoothly and effectively reintegrate into their neighborhoods," said Secretary Solis. "The programs funded through today's grant announcement will make this transition easier, resulting in more stable families and brighter futures."
Supreme Court Upholds Department's Interpretation of Longshore Act
The Supreme Court this week upheld the Office of Workers' Compensation Programs' longstanding interpretation of the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act's maximum compensation provision. Under this ruling, an injured worker's maximum benefit rate is fixed based on the fiscal year the worker becomes disabled as opposed to the arbitrary date a formal compensation order might be issued. The court's decision ensures that similarly situated workers receive the same amount of compensation. The lower courts had been divided on this issue, which meant that workers in different judicial circuits would be subject to different maximum benefit rates.Polychem Faces 30 Safety, Health Violations
Polychem OMS Systems LLC, a specialty manufacturer of equipment for the production and processing of metals and plastic products in Leetonia, Ohio, has been cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration with 30 safety and health violations, including exposing workers to amputation hazards. Proposed penalties total $103,500.
Wis. Company Cited for Failing to Protect Workers from Cave-Ins
Union Grove, Wis.-based Willkomm Excavating & Grading Inc. has been cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration with two willful violations for failing to protect workers from trench cave-ins at a job site in Greenfield. Proposed penalties total $60,500.