Published: Jul 22 @ 10:36am
As drought and high temperatures allow wildfires to spread across the western United States, NFFE-IAM Federal District 1 wildland firefighters are being mobilized to protect lives, property and infrastructure. More than 2 million acres have burned so far this year, compared with about 1.6 million by this time last year. Warner Vanderheuel, a wildland firefighter
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Published: Jul 22 @ 10:18am
IAM District 9 recently held its 28th annual Guide Dogs of America charity golf event, which raised $43,000 for the Machinist Union’s favorite charity. The event included about 120 participants at the Florissant Golf Club in Florissant, Mo. The tournament included GDA’s Marketing and Outreach Manager Zack Gittlen and Guide Dog “Legend” as the special guests at the
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Published: Jul 20 @ 11:55am
It was the first large-scale event hosted by the Biden administration and one that IAM Local 1406 member Brent Sletten won’t soon forget. On July 4, 2021, Sletten and his wife, Tricia, were one of the 1,000 military personnel and essential workers invited to a BBQ held on the White House lawn to celebrate America’s
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Published: Jul 16 @ 7:00pm
WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Department of Labor today announced the availability of $3 million in grant funding to support progress on labor standards, including occupational safety and health, hours of work and wages in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Administered by the Bureau of International Labor Affairs, this funding opportunity will finance a project to back the country’s efforts to promote compliance with acceptable conditions of work. This includes building the capacity of the General Labor Inspectorate and other state entities, employers and workers, and establishing dialogues to improve labor standards in multiple economic sectors.
The project will support the following:
Detecting and addressing violations of acceptable conditions of work.
Increasing worker access to effective state and non-state remedies against non-compliance.
Empowering workers and their organizations to help prevent, monitor, and/or stop non-compliance.
Strengthening dialogue among tripartite stakeholders to improve compliance.
The department will consider a broad spectrum of economic sectors in Democratic Republic of the Congo to benefit workers and worker rights to the greatest degree possible.
Learn more about the funding opportunity.
Published: Jul 16 @ 7:00pm
MEDFORD, OR – Diners at Misoya Bistro in Medford were likely unaware that, for nearly two years, the owner was withholding nearly all of their workers’ tips.
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division has recovered $280,124 in back wages for 36 employees after investigators found the employer kept all of their workers’ earned cash and credit card tips except for a minor stipend. Misoya Bistro paid workers an hourly ‘tip wage’ rate that was significantly lower than the actual amount of tips the employees earned.
The investigation also determined Misoya Bistro failed to pay overtime to several employees when they worked more than 40 hours in a workweek, another Fair Labor Standards Act violation.
“Restaurant workers are among the nation’s lowest paid and are often unfamiliar with their legal rights regarding tips, minimum wages and overtime. The pandemic made clear these workers are essential to our economy and they must be paid all of their hard-earned wages,” said Wage and Hour Division District Director Carrie Aguilar in Portland, Oregon. “Employers who violate the law hurt workers and their families. They also gain an unfair advantage over law-abiding competitors who operate legally.”
For more information about the FLSA and other laws enforced by the division, contact its toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Learn more about the Wage and Hour Division, including a search tool to use if you think you may be owed back wages collected by the division.
Published: Jul 16 @ 7:00pm
NORTHBROOK, IL – A federal court has approved the settlement of a U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration whistleblower investigation that determined a Northbrook waste management company violated federal law when it retaliated against a former truck driver who reported a workplace injury and raised concerns to the company that an unrepaired truck was unsafe to operate.
U.S. District Court Judge Manish S. Shah in the Northern District of Illinois entered a consent judgment and order on July 6, ordering Advanced Disposal Services Solid Waste Midwest LLC to pay the driver $95,000 in lost wages – minus applicable payroll taxes – and provide future prospective employers a neutral employment recommendation. The company has denied any wrongdoing.
The court’s action follows an OSHA investigation finding that after the truck driver cited concerns about a vehicle’s safety hazards, a company manager assigned the vehicle to a different driver. The manager then assigned the concerned truck driver to a vehicle with which they were unfamiliar. While operating the vehicle, the driver injured a finger and needed light duty to recover. A company investigation faulted the driver for the injury. The company later fired the driver after management suspected them of reporting unsafe working conditions to the company’s hotline.
OSHA determined that the truck driver’s dismissal was in retaliation for their protected activities under the whistleblower protections of Occupational Safety and Health Act’s Section 11(c). OSHA filed a complaint in federal court seeking compensation for the driver for unlawful termination.
“We commend this worker for standing up for their rights after suffering an injury and reporting workplace safety hazards that had the potential to injure other workers,” said OSHA Acting Regional Administrator William Donovan in Chicago. “Federal whistleblower laws protect workers from retaliation for reporting injuries and unsafe working conditions.”
In addition to payment of lost wages and neutral future employment recommendations, the court ordered Advanced Disposal Services Solid Waste Midwest to add a copy of the order to the employee’s personnel record and post a notice of whistleblower rights in a common area at its Northbrook facility.
In October 2020, Waste Management of Houston, Texas, acquired Advanced Disposal Services Solid Waste Midwest LLC.
OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Program enforces the whistleblower provisions of more than 20 whistleblower statutes. These statutes protect employees from retaliation for reporting violations of workplace safety and health, airline, commercial motor carrier, consumer product, environmental, financial reform, food safety, health insurance reform, motor vehicle safety, nuclear, pipeline, public transportation agency, railroad, maritime, securities and tax laws; as well as for engaging in other related protected activities. Learn more about whistleblower protections.
Editor’s note: The U.S. Department of Labor does not release the names of employees involved in whistleblower complaints.
Published: Jul 16 @ 7:00pm
AVON, CO – A Colorado state court has sentenced the owner of an Avon construction company to jail and ordered restitution for the family of a 50-year-old company worker who suffered fatal injuries in a preventable trench collapse at a Granby work site in June 2018.
The Grand County Court of the State of Colorado sentenced Bryan Johnson, owner of ContractOne Inc., to 10 months in jail for two counts of reckless endangerment and one count of third degree assault related to the death of Rosario Martinez on June 14, 2018. Johnson pleaded guilty to the charges on June 16, 2021.
In its sentencing, the court also ordered Johnson:
Serve three years’ probation.
Pay Martinez’s family restitution not to exceed $25,000.
Make charitable contributions to local charities.
Participate in the U.S. Department of Labor’s Workers Memorial Day ceremony.
Complete safety training.
Not commit any willful or serious future OSHA violations.
Allow OSHA to inspect his worksites without an administrative warrant.
An investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration determined that Johnson had hired Martinez to install drywall and do carpentry work but failed to train him or his other workers to identify or avoid hazards related to trenching and excavation. At the time of the collapse, Martinez was installing a water service line at a Granby, Colorado residential construction site. The trench collapsed the day before but Johnson ignored obvious signs to change his procedures. Martinez’s son was on site, and assisted first responders in digging his father out of the trench. Martinez later succumbed to his injuries at a nearby hospital.
OSHA investigators found ContractOne Inc. willfully failed to use a trench protective system as required. The company also failed to conduct regular site inspections to correct potentially hazardous conditions; did not place excavated soil piles a safe distance from trench edges; failed to provide ladders for egress; and did not use appropriate utility location procedures during trenching operations.
“The evidence collected during OSHA’s investigation, and later relied upon by the District Attorney’s Office to pursue criminal charges, reflects particularly egregious behavior,” said Occupational Safety and Health Administration Acting Regional Administrator Nancy Hauter, in Denver. “Trenching is one of the most dangerous activities in the construction industry and Bryan Johnson failed to take any affirmative steps to protect employees, despite repeated warnings that work activities at the jobsite were hazardous.”
“Safety and health is paramount and takes precedence over production or profits,” said U.S. Department of Labor Regional Solicitor John Rainwater, in Denver. “The department believes the facts of this case warrant the sentence and we support the District Attorney’s efforts to hold Johnson accountable for failing to protect workers under his care and supervision. Incarceration sends a strong message. We believe that prosecuting criminal cases has the ability to change the industry.”
In the past decade, the department’s Solicitor’s Office has increased the number of criminal referrals to the U.S. Department of Justice and forged more partnerships with state and local prosecutors to prosecute employers under state criminal statutes. Criminal enforcement is an effective enforcement tool. The timely prosecution of an individual within the community in which they work, and where the victim often resided, has a strong deterrent effect in the industry and sends a signal to the regulated community that certain behavior, such as that which results in significant harm to workers, will not be tolerated.
Published: Jul 16 @ 6:57am
The Union Plus Scholarship Program application for study courses beginning in the Fall of 2022 is now available at www.unionplus.org/scholarships. The Program awards annual scholarships to eligible union members, current and retired, their spouses and dependent children. The recipients are chosen based on outstanding academic achievement, personal character, financial need and commitment to organized labor
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Published: Jul 16 @ 6:45am
In the week ending July 10, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 360,000, a decrease of 26,000 from the previous week''s revised level. This is the lowest level for initial claims since March 14, 2020 when it was 256,000. The previous week''s level was revised up by 13,000 from 373,000 to 386,000. The 4-week moving average was 382,500, a decrease of 14,500 from the previous week''s revised average. This is the lowest level for this average since March 14, 2020 when it was 225,500. The previous week''s average was revised up by 2,500 from 394,500 to 397,000.
Published: Jul 16 @ 6:45am
SEATTLE – As temperatures rise in Washington, Oregon and Idaho, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration reminds employers to protect their employees when they work in hot weather.
OSHA’s message is simple: Water. Rest. Shade. To protect their employees, employers should:
Encourage workers to drink water every 15 minutes.
Make sure workers take frequent rest breaks in the shade to cool down.
Develop an emergency plan that explains what to do when a worker shows signs of heat-related illness.
Train workers on the hazards related to heat exposure.
Allow workers to build a tolerance for working in heat.
The OSHA-NIOSH Heat Safety Tool is a free, downloadable app that calculates a worksite’s heat index and displays the associated risk levels. Users can receive precautionary recommendations specific to heat index risk to help protect employees from heat-related illness. The tool is available in English and Spanish. Additionally, the agency developed a new poster and pamphlet on preventing heat illness at work. Both are available in English and Spanish.
OSHA’s Occupational Heat Exposure page explains the symptoms of heat illness, first aid measures to provide while waiting for help, engineering controls and work practices to reduce workers’ exposure to heat, and training.
Learn more about OSHA.
Read this news release En Español.
Published: Jul 16 @ 6:45am
WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Department of Labor today announced $92.6 million in funding to 47 states to provide training and employment services to eligible workers affected adversely by foreign trade.
Administered by the department’s Employment and Training Administration, the Trade Adjustment Assistance for Workers Program supports training, employment and case management services, job search and relocation allowances, and income support during training. In addition, the program provides a subsidy to workers, aged 50 or older, whose reemployment wages are lower than the wages earned in their prior trade-affected employment. This distribution follows an initial allocation of $240.8 million provided to states in January 2021.
“Today’s announcement provides much-needed funding to train and support workers whose employment was affected adversely by foreign trade,” said Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh. “Helping these workers transition to new employment is critical to the nation’s equitable recovery, and serves as a reminder to Congress of the urgent need to reauthorize Trade Adjustment Assistance for Workers Program to ensure more workers can receive the benefits, services and training they need to connect to good jobs.”
Congress did not reauthorize the TAA program by its June 30 deadline. On July 1, the program reverted to its previous version, referred to as Reversion 2021. Without reauthorization, much of the TAA funding will end upon the program termination on June 30, 2022.
A list of each state’s funding follows this news release.
The department has distributed Trade Adjustment Assistance for Workers program funds as follows:
Published: Jul 16 @ 6:45am
LAKELAND, FL – Piece-rate pay practices make workers’ paychecks solely dependent on the amount of work produced, regardless of how many hours are worked. When using these practices, however, employers must still comply with the Fair Labor Standards Act and record all hours worked, pay minimum wage and overtime when applicable.
High Tower Roofing LLC – a Lakeland roofing contractor – paid its workers a piece-rate and failed to pay the additional half-time premium for overtime hours, an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division has found. Investigators determined the employer paid roofers the same piece rate for all of their work, even when they worked more than 40 hours in a workweek. The law requires overtime at time and one-half workers’ regular rates of pay for hours beyond 40, even for those paid a piece-rate. To resolve the violations, the employer paid $50,034 in back wages to 112 workers.
The investigation also determined the employer violated federal child labor requirements by employing a minor to operate a vehicle on public roadways. High Tower hired the minor as a supplies runner who was required to deliver supplies to roofers at job sites. The division assessed a $1,864 civil penalty for violating child labor requirements of the FLSA.
“These hard-working construction workers deserve to be paid all the wages they have earned. Many roofing industry employers may believe that only employees paid by the hour are entitled to overtime, but that is not true. Nonexempt workers paid by the square-foot, a day rate, per contract or on a salary basis must also be paid overtime,” said Wage and Hour Division District Director Nicolas Ratmiroff in Tampa, Florida.
“This case should also serve to remind other companies employing minors to familiarize themselves with federal child labor requirements so that minor employees can continue to gain valuable work experience as safely as possible,” Ratmiroff added.
High Tower Roofing Inc. is a Lakeland-based residential and commercial roofing contractor providing services to the local area.
The division offers numerous compliance assistance tool kits to help construction industry employers learn about their obligations under federal law.
For more information about child labor standards, the FLSA and other laws enforced by the division, contact the agency’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Learn more about the Wage and Hour Division, and use its search tool if you think you may be owed back wages collected by the division.