Editor’s Note: This post provides the highlights of the department’s activities in recent days. To view previous posts in this series, click here. To get back to the newsletter, click here.
(front center) U.S. Deputy Secretary of Labor Chris Lu, U.S. Ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein Suzi LeVine, Chief Executive Officer of Zurich North America Commercial Mike Foley, President of Harper College Kenneth L. Ender, Ph.D., and Swiss Ambassador to the U.S. Martin Dahinden.
International insurance company invests in students’ future: To better prepare students for careers as insurance professionals, Zurich North America and Harper College have launched a first-of-its-kind U.S. apprenticeship program. Deputy Secretary of Labor Chris Lu was on hand for the event, held on Feb. 2 in Schaumburg, Ill. “Apprentices are an investment in the future,” he said. “You all are leaders, you are path breakers, and I look forward to following your remarkable progress over the next couple of years.” The program offers Harper students the opportunity to work in the underwriting and claims departments at Zurich's Schaumburg headquarters, while earning an Associate of Applied Science degree in business administration. The program has already received high marks from one of its participants. “Students get a free education and employment at one of the best companies in the industry,” said Justin Williams. “In turn, the employer has the better perspective of younger people with fresh ideas, who want to learn.” Another student weighed in. “It’s an absolutely fantastic deal, you get a chance to work and earn while you go to school,” said intern Tammy Adimi. Zurich, a participant in the department’s ApprenticeshipUSA initiative, is committed to training at least 100 apprentices by 2020. The program is based on a model already popular in Switzerland, where Zurich was founded.
Women’s Bureau Deputy Director Joan Harrigan-Farrelly.
Florida shines spotlight on women: To inform and motivate women about the legislative process and help them become leaders on impactful policy changes, the Florida Commission on the Status of Women hosted “Women’s Day at the Capitol” on Jan. 28 in Tallahassee. Women’s Bureau Deputy Director Joan Harrigan-Farrelly addressed nearly 200 attendees, delving into the status of working women in America and what the department is doing to help them. Other discussion topics included raising the minimum wage; increasing access to paid leave and closing the wage gap by helping women enter high-paying, high-growth occupations.
Protecting Wages and Benefits
Los Angeles WHD District Director Kimchi Bui.
Reaching out to a diverse workforce: The Wage and Hour Division recently participated in a meet and greet with news media representatives of the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities in Los Angeles to discuss federal programs that assist members of the AAPI community. Officials from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Internal Revenue Service, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Social Security Administration and Federal Bureau of Investigation also participated. “We are listening to workers of all backgrounds and we understand that members of the AAPI community should be made aware of their rights under federal laws,” said Kimchi Bui, the division’s district director in Los Angeles. Among topics raised by reporters were the different ways in which laws and regulations protect AAPI immigrants and workers in the U.S. The White House Initiative on Asian American and Pacific Islanders’ southwest regional network sponsored the event.
Improving Safety and Health
Alliance addresses crane and hoist hazards: The Occupational Safety and Health Administration renewed its alliance with Crane, Hoist and Monorail Partners on Feb. 2 at the department headquarters in Washington, D.C. Assistant Secretary of Labor Dr. David Michaels, the head of OSHA, signed the five-year agreement, which addresses hazards and new technology encountered by workers who manufacture and use cranes, hoists and monorails. The alliance calls for the prevention of worker exposure to electrical shock, electrocution, falls from elevation and being struck-by moving equipment through the development and dissemination of best practice fact sheets and training resources. It also will promote cooperative program initiatives – including the National Safety Stand-Down and protection of temporary workers – and encourage a culture of safety within the industry. CHM Partners consist of the Crane Manufacturers Association of America, the Hoist Manufacturers Institute and the Monorail Manufacturers Association.
Michaëlle De Cock, Bijoy Raychaudhuri and Frederico Blanco, survey experts at the ILO.
Understanding child, forced labor data collection: In commemoration of National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, the Bureau of International Labor Affairs and the International Labor Organization hosted a workshop on Child Labor and Forced Labor Survey Methods on Jan. 27 and 28 at department headquarters. ILO survey experts discussed international conventions on child labor and forced labor and how data are collected to address violations of human rights through targeted policy responses and program design. Approximately 100 people attended from academia, federal agencies, industry and nongovernmental organizations.
In Other News...
DOL Secretary Representative Elmy Bermejo (far left) leads the Economic and Workforce Development panel.
New immigrant support in Los Angeles: To strengthen and support local immigrant and refugee integration efforts, the White House Task Force on New Americans recently launched a series of White House Regional Convenings on New Americans. On Jan. 29, the first convening took place in Los Angeles, bringing together representatives from the City of Los Angeles, local community leaders and federal agencies to help advance the support and integration of new immigrants to the United States. Regional Secretary’s Representative Elmy Bermejo led the Economic and Workforce Development panel, which highlighted programs, grants and enforcement efforts designed to help new immigrants succeed and prosper. To explain how the program works, Bermejo borrowed an analogy of Secretary Perez’s, saying, “It’s a skills superhighway with on-ramps and off-ramps where people can pick up stackable, portable credentials. The superhighway is accessible to all, with dedicated lanes for veterans, for people with disabilities, for disconnected youth, for immigrants, for people who’ve been incarcerated and much more.”