The following is a roundup of the department’s recent activities. Read more in our newsletter.
Protecting Wages and Benefits
Secretary Perez speaks at NALEO Conference.
Championing change: “NALEO has been making good trouble for a long time, and we have a lot more good trouble to make together,” Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez told an audience gathered for the 33rd Annual National Association of Latino Elected Officials Conference. Perez acknowledged the undeniable progress made under the Obama administration and thanked the Latino elected officials across the country who are advocating for policies to promote shared prosperity, such as access to paid leave and a raise in the minimum wage. He also talked about the optimism and hope he holds for the future of this country and called on the attendees to continue their work to make a lasting change in their cities and communities.
WHD Administrator Dr. David Weil speaks at SHRM Conference.
Working overtime on education, outreach: Since the Wage and Hour Division finalized its rule updating the overtime protections for white-collar salaried workers, the agency has hosted informational webinars reaching more than 21,000 stakeholders. Being added to that is personal outreach led by Administrator David Weil, who spoke June 17 to a joint luncheon hosted by the Metropolitan Washington Employment Lawyers Association and the District of Columbia Chapter of the Federal Bar Association. Later, addressing the Society for Human Resource Management's annual conference and exposition in the nation’s capital on June 19, Weil said the new rule is good for both workers and employers as the new salary threshold sets a brighter line for which workers are overtime eligible. But at a time when the need to educate and clear up misconceptions is paramount, he chastised some for “potshots,” such as claims that tracking workers’ hours will be difficult and that the rule might even lead to demotions. “The time for potshots is over,” he said. “Let’s get on with education and outreach.”
Community outreach and resource planning specialist Alba Jarrett informs a Business Expo attendee about laws enforced by the WHD.
Business-to-business in Vegas: The Wage and Hour Division participated in the Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce annual Business Expo 2016 on June 15. The event attracted approximately 2,000 attendees and more than 150 exhibitors in a dynamic business-to-business atmosphere. Representatives from the division answered questions by attendees, the majority regarding the Fair Labor Standards Act and in particular the new overtime rule. Construction employers inquired about heat prevention tools and also about issues concerning prevailing wages. “Thanks to our presence at this critically important business venue we were able to disseminate to the Nevada business community important informational materials of the labor laws we enforce,” said Gaspar Montanez, district director for the division in Las Vegas.
WHD investigator Jacobo Valenzuela answers questions at the conference.
Prevailing wage on construction in New Mexico: Some 200 contractors and stakeholders attended the Wage and Hour Division Prevailing Wage Conference in Albuquerque, N.M., the week of June 13. The conference focused on government contract issues, and provided training for the administration and enforcement of the Davis-Bacon and Related Acts, McNamara- O’Hara Service Contract Act and the labor standards provisions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The conference precedes an upcoming Davis-Bacon prevailing wage survey in the state to determine what wages will be paid to the various classifications of workers found on Davis-Bacon construction projects. Federally financed or assisted construction projects subject to the DBRA must contain a prevailing wage determination. The prevailing wages are typically determined by surveying ongoing or recently completed construction projects within a geographic area. The division will solicit payroll information on all federal, state, local and privately funded building and heavy construction projects in New Mexico during the March 1, 2015, and February 29, 2016, time period. Find out more about the Davis Bacon Act and the survey program here.
WHD community outreach and resource planning specialist Ralph Valles talks about services provided by the WHD.
AAPI seniors’ needs: At an event sponsored by the White House Initiative on AAPIs and the National Asian Pacific Center on Aging, representatives from the Wage and Hour Division and Employee Benefits Security Administration reached out to seniors' caregivers and advocates of Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. Approximately 300 attended the event held in Los Angeles on June 16. In addition to the department, the panel of speakers included officials from other federal, local, and nonprofit organizations. “The purpose of the session was to educate AAPI seniors and the general public on the unique needs of the AAPI aging community,” said Paul Chang, director of community relations for the Wage and Hour Division in the Western Region and regional advisor for the WHIAAPI. “Some of those needs include helping caregivers understand laws that protect their wages and working conditions.”
Collaborating for the workers of Massachusetts: The inaugural meeting of the Massachusetts Attorney General's Labor Advisory Council was hosted by the Wage and Hour Division’s Boston District Office on June 8. Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey served as the moderator for the event, attended by representatives from several Department of Labor agencies, unions, law schools, community groups and the City of Boston. The goal of the newly formed council is to build upon long-standing partnerships among stakeholders through a regular exchange of ideas and open discussion to strengthen and enhance shared efforts on behalf of workers in Massachusetts.
Left to Right: Secretary’s Representative Elmy Bermejo, Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley, entrepeneur/engineer Ruchi Sanghvi, and San Francisco Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White.
Women’s summit goes west: More than 1,500 gender equity advocates attended the Bay Area Women’s Summit on June 21 to strategize on ways of empowering women and their families. The summit, which followed last week’s U.S. Summit on Women in Washington D.C., included nationally recognized leaders Senior Advisor to President Obama Valerie Jarrett, Treasurer of the United States Rosie Rios and others who discussed local paid leave efforts, pathways for women and girls to enter into STEM fields, affordable child care, and women’s advancement in the workplace. Regional Secretary’s Representative Elmy Bermejo led a panel discussion, “Shattering Stereotypes on Women’s Work,” discussing the challenges faced by women in non-traditional occupations, and the importance of women entering these fields to participate in unions to help close the gender wage gap. Today, women account for 30 percent or less of employees in some high-wage sectors such as computer, mathematical science, architecture and engineering occupations, yet they account for more than 70 percent of the workforce in low-wage sectors such as personal care and health-care support occupations, according to recent BLS figures.
Left to Right: William Mendoza, executive director, White House Initiative on American Indian and Alaska Native Education; Taryn Williams, chief of staff, Office of Disability Employment Policy; Oscar Cruz, CEO, Families in Schools; and Sue Swenson, acting assistant secretary, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, Department of Education – Photo credit: Brandon McMillan
Engaging families in employment success: Research has shown time and again that family involvement is a critical element in predicting successful transition from adolescence to adulthood and the world of work, for all young people. Ways to increase it was the topic at the 2016 National Family and Community Engagement Conference this week in Pittsburgh, Pa., where Office of Disability Employment Policy Chief of Staff Taryn Williams served on a panel focused on youth from disadvantaged populations in particular. During the panel, Williams shared information about ODEP’s youth policy framework, the Guideposts for Success, as well as ways the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act is creating more and better opportunities to support youth with disabilities through increased collaboration among various service delivery systems. The conference was sponsored by the Institute for Educational Leadership, which houses ODEP’s youth technical assistance center, the National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth.
Improving Safety and Health
WHD’s Jesus Olivares emphasized three words to keep workers safe against the dangers of extreme heat: water, rest and shade.
Extreme heat can be deadly: The extreme heat Arizona is currently experiencing is not only dangerous but deadly, as it pushes the human body beyond its limits. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Wage and Hour Division in Phoenix engaged in an interview with a local Telemundo television station on June 21 to inform both employers and employees on the measures they must take to put safety and health first. “Many areas of Arizona and the Southwest are facing unprecedented temperatures with relentless daily highs above 113 degrees,” said Zachary Barnett, area director for OSHA in Phoenix and Las Vegas. “Under these extreme circumstances, preventative measures are critical. Employers must limit employee exposure to this excessive heat. Water, rest, and shade go a long way in making a difference between life and death.”
Editor’s Note: Find previous posts in this series here.