Obama Seeks Wage Transparency With Executive Orders

President Barack Obama will commemorate Equal Pay Day on Tuesday by signing two executive orders aimed at achieving pay equity among federal contractors, which make up an estimated one-quarter of the U.S. workforce.

The first executive order will prevent federal contractors from retaliating against employees who discuss how much money they make, as many employers have contracts prohibiting workers from disclosing information about their salaries, White House officials said during a conference call with reporters on Monday. The second executive order involves requiring federal contractors to disclose compensation data to the Department of Labor to increase transparency on payment for women and minorities, Betsey Stevenson, a member of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, said during the call.

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Maryland becomes second state to set minimum wage to $10.10/hour

Following Connecticut’s lead, Maryland became the second state to raise its minimum wage to $10.10 an hour Monday, the mark set by President Obama in his push to persuade Congress to set that standard nationally.

By an 87-47 vote, Maryland lawmakers approved a wage hike from the federally-mandated $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour by July 2018 – two years later than Gov. Martin O’Malley advocated. The hike will be achieved in five incremental raises, starting with a jump to $8 an hour on Jan. 1, 2015. Counties can vote to set their own minimum wage even higher.

In a statement, O’Malley congratulated lawmakers “for giving so many Maryland families the raise they deserve.” It had been a top legislative priority for the Governor in his final term.

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Construction poised to be CT’s growth industry

Construction will lead Connecticut’s industries in job growth over the next 10 years, economists and labor analysts say.

The industry hit hardest by the Great Recession is poised for a strong rebound this year and beyond as public projects move forward and the backlog of private projects built up during the economic downturn starts to clear, said Andrew Condon, director of the state Department of Labor office of research.

“It is coming back, but it is coming back from a very big fall,” Condon said. “You have to put that in context because construction was coming from a very low place.”

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NYC: Firms building city-backed affordable housing repeatedly caught cheating workers out of wages

Last week, Mayor de Blasio promised to “lift up working families” with soon-to-be built affordable apartments the city is sponsoring on a vacant lot in Brownsville, Brooklyn.

 But at an affordable housing project a few blocks away, builder MDG Design and subcontractor F. Rizos, settled federal wage-cheating charges in April 2013 by agreeing to pay $960,000 in back wages.

Just one month later, MDG was hit with more wage-cheating charges on another city project, this time for $4.5 million in back wages, a city record.

Yet MDG was chosen by the former Bloomberg administration that very month to turn a city-owned warehouse in Williamsburg into 55 affordable apartments and stands to build hundreds more in the coming years.

Many taxpayer-funded developments in New York City require contractors and their subcontractors to pay “prevailing wages.” Some contractors jump through hoops to avoid this.

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California Truckers Will Be Paid $2.2 Million in Misclassification Case

Pacer Cartage, a California logistics company, is being ordered to pay more than $2.2 million in back pay to short-haul truck drivers it illegally misclassified as independent contractors, Think Progress reports. The California Labor Commissioner’s Division of Labor Standards Enforcement says that the company knew or should have known that the drivers were employees and not contractors and Pacer is required to pay restitution, attorney’s fees and interest.

Misclassification is a tactic corporations engage in to try to exempt themselves from having to comply with the Fair Labor Standards Act, minimum wage laws and other laws protecting workers. If employees are classified as private contractors instead of employees, they are excluded from coverage under many labor laws and can be paid less. The truckers, for instance, were not paid by Pacer for time spent doing things like waiting at a port to pick up a load or for reimbursement of job-related expenses.

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Redmond Contractor Fined For Wage Violations, Barred From Public Contracts

State labor regulators ordered a Redmond contractor to pay $13,600 in penalties, after concluding the company violated prevailing wage laws.

The Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries also barred Hard Rock Concrete Inc. and the company’s president from public works projects for three years.

The labor agency announced the penalties Friday. Hard Rock Concrete president Rocky Evans has not yet responded to a message left by The Oregonian regarding the penalties.

Investigators found that seven Hard Rock Concrete contractors were underpaid roughly $8,900 for concrete work at Hillside Elementary School in Eagle Point. The business did a poor job of keeping records and filed incorrect payroll data, according to the state.

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Department of Labor Will Examine Pay Threshold, Management Exemption for Overtime

It will likely be months before the Obama administration details the specific changes it plans for overtime rules, but officials are looking at making two significant shifts.

In a hearing this week, Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez said the Department of Labor would study both raising the wage threshold and overturning the 2004 rule that made certain salaried employees exempt from overtime because they perform some managerial duties.

“There are two issues we are working on in the regulation,” Perez said. “Number one, what should the threshold be, and secondly, how does the test work.”

Perez also said the current structure of the managerial exemption keeps deserving workers frozen out of overtime. “You can work 1 percent of your time in a management function and 99 percent of your time stocking shelves and you will be an exempt employee under the current regulation,” he said

AG Announces Partnership to Combat Misclassification

NEW YORK – Attorney General Eric T. Schneider­­man has signed a memorandum of understanding that allows his office to cooperate with both the federal and New York Departments of Labor to battle worker misclassification.

The three offices will share information in an effort to catch employers that wrongly classify employees as independent contractors.

The move puts New York on board a federal initiative launched in 2010 as part of the Obama administration’s “Middle Class Task Force.” To date, California, Colo­­rado, Con­­nec­­ti­­cut, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Lou­­isi­­ana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Min­­ne­­sota, Missouri, Montana, Utah and Wash­­ington have signed similar agreements. The initiative claims to have collected $18.2 million in back wages for over 19,000 employees.

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Maryland Approves Wage Bill for School Construction

ANNAPOLIS, Md. – A measure to expand Maryland’s prevailing wage law has been passed by the Maryland General Assembly.

The state Senate passed the bill 32-15 on Wednesday, sending the measure to Gov. Martin O’Malley.

 The bill lowers the share of total school construction project costs paid by the state from 50 percent to 25 percent for the prevailing wage law to apply.

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US Labor Department Recovers More Than $277,000 in Back Wages for 233 Janitorial Service Employees at New Orleans Convention Center

NEW ORLEANS — Empire Janitorial Sales and Services Inc. has paid $277,565 in overtime back wages to 233 current and former janitorial service workers employed by Acadian Payroll Services LLC after an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division found violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act’s overtime and record-keeping provisions.

The investigation, conducted by the division’s New Orleans District Office, found that employees were wrongfully classified as independent contractors and paid an hourly wage with no overtime wages of time and one-half their regular rate of pay for hours worked over 40 in a workweek. Additionally, Acadian Payroll Services did not establish a seven-day workweek and failed to maintain proper records of weekly hours worked by its employees.

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