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.
Protecting Wages and Benefits
Secretary Perez speaks a paid leave round table at Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Recreation Center.
Minnesota proposes paid parental leave for state workers: The U.S. is the only industrialized nation in the world without a federal paid leave policy, but states like Minnesota are taking the lead to fill the void and support working families. On Feb. 9, Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez met with advocates, labor leaders, community organizers and elected officials in Minneapolis to discuss their support for such policies. Later that day, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton announced a proposal to offer six weeks of paid parental leave to all state workers. Perez and President Obama continue the drumbeat for a federal paid leave policy so that parents aren’t forced to choose between the work they need and the family they love.
Deputy Secretary Lu and Speaker of the Vermont House of Representatives Shap Smith.
Paid sick leave coming to Green Mountain State: Vermont is poised to become the fifth state to mandate paid sick leave for workers. On Feb. 8, Deputy Secretary of Labor Chris Lu visited Montpelier, the state capital, to support efforts to pass the legislation. In a roundtable with business and community leaders, as well as key legislators, Lu emphasized that paid leave policies are good for both workers and businesses. He heard from Vermont employers who already offer the benefit and claim it has lowered employee turnover and improved productivity.
Assistant Secretary Michaud and Rep. Rice.
Help for transitioning service members: American Job Centers are vital to helping veterans find meaningful civilian employment. On Feb. 8, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Veterans’ Employment and Training Mike Michaud joined New York Rep. Kathleen Rice for a tour of HempsteadWorks, an American Job Center in Hempstead, N.Y. “American Job Centers like HempsteadWorks are a vital resource when it comes to finding meaningful employment for our veterans and their families,” Michaud told government officials and veterans’ advocates during a roundtable discussion. “The employment picture for a vast majority of our veterans is extremely positive, but there’s always more work to do.”
Improving Safety and Health
Oklahoma City Air Logistics workers were awarded OSHA’s VVP Star.
Oklahoma Air Force complex honored with workplace safety award: The Voluntary Protection Program Star Award is the department’s highest honor bestowed on exceptional workplace safety programs. On Feb. 10, nearly 200 members of the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex celebrated that achievement. Receiving the award were the 76th Commodities Maintenance Group, the 76th Maintenance Support Group and the 76th Propulsion Maintenance Group. “This is about the safety of our workforce, our most valued resource,” said Brig. Gen. Mark Johnson, OC-ALC commander. “It is one of the pillars of our mission and each member of our team is educated, enriched and empowered to embrace safety in their work setting.” The OC-ALC at Tinker Air Force base is Oklahoma’s largest single-site employer and the Air Force’s first maintenance depot to claim four VPP Star groups.
In Other News...
OFCCP head outlines agency priorities for 2016: Speaking before the Practicing Law Institute in New York on Feb. 3, Patricia Shiu, director of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, discussed the future of the OFCCP. Shiu noted there will be “a continued emphasis on systemic enforcement … and an ongoing commitment to excellence, professionalism and integrity in all of our endeavors.” More than 200 people attended the meeting or listened to remarks via webcast. Earlier in the week, Shiu addressed the Agency Liaison Meeting at the American Bar Association Section of the Labor and Employment Law Equal Employment Opportunity Committee in Washington, D.C., where she was joined by Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Chair Jenny Yang and Justin Levitt, the Department of Justice’s Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Civil Rights Division, to discuss interagency coordination. The two events came on the heels of an announcement that the EEOC will propose revisions to the Employer Information Report requiring employers with 100 or more workers to report pay data.
Election lawsuit settled with Texas union: A lawsuit brought by the department against the Allied Pilots Association, Dallas-Fort Worth Domicile, in Fort Worth, Texas, recently was settled in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas. In court papers filed, the parties agreed to settle their dispute concerning the 2014 union officer election by conducting a mail ballot election in early 2016. The election will be supervised by the Office of Labor-Management Standards, which conducted an investigation that determined the union used an electronic voting system that could match voters with their ballots, thereby violating secrecy as defined by the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act. The electronic voting system also failed to provide adequate safeguards by not affording candidate observers the ability to verify that a vote was recorded and tallied accurately.