150 Americans Die Each Day Due to Workplace Injury or Disease According to New Report

WASHINGTON, DC – According to a report released today by the AFL-CIO, 4,628 workers were killed in the United States during 2012 due to workplace injuries. Additionally an estimated 50,000 died from occupational diseases, resulting in a loss of nearly 150 workers each day from preventable workplace conditions.

“A hard day’s work should not be a death sentence,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “It is unconscionable that any worker has to choose between life and putting food on the table. When Congress votes to weaken worker protections or defund critical programs and when big corporations marginalize and deemphasize worker safety, they insult the memory of all those workers who have died while fighting to attain the American Dream.”

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(Copy of Report)

NY Sets Classification Rules

New York has joined a growing number of states tackling the issue of employment classification for commercial truck drivers. Following through on a mandate in a bill passed in January, the state’s Department of Labor released new standards this week to clarify whether a driver is an employee or an independent contractor.

“The trucking industry is vital to how our state operates, from shipping materials that make our buildings, to parts and systems that keep us safe, to the food and products we use every day,” says New York Commissioner of Labor Peter Rivera. “For too long, truck drivers have sought to have a clear standard. This law provides clarity for employers and truckers.”

Leggett proposes pay-equity law for male, female contractors in Montgomery County

Contractors working for Montgomery County would be required to show that they pay men and women equally and do not retaliate against workers who share salary information under legislation introduced Tuesday by County Executive Isiah Leggett (D).

A handful of states, including New Mexico and Minnesota, have laws requiring pay equity for contract workers and government employees. Other states, including New Jersey, have outlawed retaliation against workers for sharing pay information.

But advocates for pay equity said Tuesday that if Leggett’s proposal is approved by the County Council, Montgomery would be the first municipal government to establish such requirements for contractors.

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(Copy of Bill 29-14)

Garcia Forest Service debarred from federal contracts for 3 years following US Labor Department investigation

MINNEAPOLIS — A U.S. Labor Department investigation has resulted in the debarment of Garcia Forest Service LLC, and its president, Samuel Garcia, from eligibility for further service contracts with any U.S. government agency for three years. The investigation found that the Rockingham, N.C.-based company violated the McNamara-O’Hara Service Contract Act and the Contract Work Hours and Safety Standards Act by failing to pay fringe benefits, minimum wage, overtime and holiday pay to workers hired for a reforestation project in the Superior National Forest in Minnesota. Administrative Law Judge Kenneth A. Krantz issued the debarment order in Newport News, Va. The consent findings were filed by the department’s Regional Office of the Solicitor in Chicago.

“Contractors that do business with the federal government have an obligation to abide by the law, pay their employees the required contractual rates and benefits, and keep accurate and complete required records,” said Laura A. Fortman, principal deputy administrator of the Wage and Hour Division. “The Service Contract Act requires debarment when violations are found unless the high standard of ‘unusual circumstances’ is met. Debarring this employer illustrates the department’s commitment to vigorous enforcement of government contracting laws and helps level the playing field for law-abiding employers.”

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Benefits of Lorain High School PLA start with bids 6% lower than estimates

You may recall last month’s ACT Ohio progress report where I detailed how the North Central Building Trades Council (“NCBT”), working in partnership with ACT Ohio, initiated suit to enforce the Project Labor Agreement on the $62 million Lorain High School project.

A favorable ruling by the judge overseeing the case on our request for injunctive relief led to positive negotiations with the Attorney General’s Office and significant discussion with the Kasich Administration. The result was a settlement agreement that allowed the PLA to stand for the project.

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OSHA Head: Some Valid Whistleblower Claims Tossed

The head of the agency that runs the U.S. Department of Labor’s whistleblower program said strict time frames dictated by an older whistleblower law lead the agency to dismiss more than 200 cases a year, some of which have merit.

Assistant secretary for labor for occupational safety and health David Michaels asked lawmakers Tuesday to pass legislation giving some prospective whistleblowers more than 30 days to file complaints.

“The statute of limitations is a very serious problem,” said Mr. Michaels in a Tuesday hearing by a subcommittee of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

“There are [more than] 200 cases a year which we dismiss simply because they’re untimely. Some of them involve what we think are very meritorious cases of workers who file 32, 34, 35 days after the event. That simply isn’t fair,” he said

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Demolition Company Operators Sentenced In Manhattan Federal Court For Scheme To Underpay Employees In Violation Of Federal Prevailing Wage Law

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that JOVER NARANJO, the owner and president of Enviro & Demo Masters, Inc. (“Enviro”), and LUPERIO NARANJO, SR., a foreman for Enviro, were sentenced today in Manhattan federal court to six and four years in prison, respectively, for perpetrating a scheme to underpay employees in violation of the federal prevailing wage law and for tampering with witnesses and using other people’s identities to further this scheme. Both defendants were convicted in November 2013 after a two-week trial before U.S. District Judge Jed S. Rakoff, who imposed today’s sentences.


Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “Today’s sentences ensure Jover Naranjo and Luperio Naranjo, Sr., will pay a steep price for underpaying their staff, abusing federal funds, and then lying to cover it all up – loss of their liberty.”

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$150M available to states to implement or expand job-driven training programs for laid-off workers

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Labor today announced the availability of up to $150 million in funding through a new Job-Driven National Emergency Grant program to train workers who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own for jobs in high-demand industries.

These investments will help create or expand employer partnerships that provide opportunities for on-the-job training, Registered Apprenticeships or other occupational training that results in an industry-recognized credential. Funding will also be used to provide services, such as coaching, counseling and direct job placement, that help connect laid-off workers, including the long-term unemployed, with available jobs. Focusing funding on proven, job-driven training strategies is a key component of the Obama administration’s agenda to connect ready-to-work Americans with ready-to-be-filled jobs.

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Manafort fined $2.4M for minority-contractor breach

Plainville contractor Manafort Brothers Inc. will pay a $2.4 million federal fine and undergo independent monitoring for lying about its use of minority contractors on a state highway project, authorities say.

The Connecticut U.S. Attorney’s office and other state and federal investigators announced Monday Manafort’s agreement to settle its role in a criminal and civil probe into the corporation’s misconduct surrounding the relocation of Route 72 in Bristol, work that dated to April 2007.

According to investigators, Manafort admitted lying to the state Transportation Department about its use of socially and economically disadvantaged contractors for its $39.7 million roadwork contract.

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Harkin Statement on Senate Approval of David Weil to Serve as Administrator of the Wage and Hour Division at the Department of Labor

WASHINGTON, D.C.-Today, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, issued the following statement after the Senate approved David Weil to serve as the Administrator of the Wage and Hour Division at the U.S. Department of Labor. Weil was approved by the Senate HELP Committee in January 2014.
“The Wage and Hour Division is a relatively unknown agency, but it plays a huge role in how Americans experience their day-to-day working lives.  It ensures that people are paid fairly, it protects vulnerable children from abusive child labor, and it ensures that workers can spend time with their families when a new baby arrives or a health crisis is looming.  I can think of no one better to lead the Division than Dr. David Weil,” Harkin said.