Tag Archives: Department of Labor

Civil Rights Commission Calls for End to Subminimum Wages for People With Disabilities

“Paying workers with disabilities a subminimum wage is discrimination—plain and simple—and it’s way past time we repeal this outdated policy.”

By Kenny Stancil, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-17-2020

NYC DOT joined the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities in the first ever Disability Pride NYC Parade on Sunday, July 12, 2015. Photo: NYC DOT/flickr/CC

The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights’ recommendation that Congress repeal Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act—which allows employers to pay employees with disabilities less than the federal minimum wage—was praised Thursday by numerous Democratic lawmakers.

According to the USCCR’s report—titled “Subminimum Wages: Impacts on the Civil Rights of People with Disabilities” (pdf)—there are over 1,500 “sheltered workshops,” separate work centers where employees with disabilities are “not integrated into a broader community or work setting,” in the U.S. that employ over 100,000 people. Continue reading

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‘Free Handout to Insurance Industry’: Trump Administration Tells Insurers They Don’t Have to Cover Covid-19 Tests for Workers

“According to the Trump administration, insurance company profits are more important than the lives of nursing home residents and workers.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-25-2020

Coronavirus Task Force press briefing – March 2, 2020. Photo: White House/flickr

The Trump administration issued policy guidance this week telling health insurance companies that they are not required by law to cover the Covid-19 tests employers may compel workers to undergo as a condition for returning to their jobs.

The announcement (pdf) Tuesday by the Departments of Treasury, Labor, and Health and Human Services alarmed healthcare advocates and lawmakers who warned the move gives profitable insurers a green light to push the costs of potentially expensive coronavirus screenings onto workers. Continue reading

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‘Exploitation of a Pandemic to Reshape Immigration Law’: Trump Order on Worker Visa Restrictions Sparks Outrage

“As long as the Trump administration is in office, they will continue to look for excuses to justify extending this ban.”

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams, Published 6-23-2020

Screenshot: YouTube

President Donald Trump was accused of exploiting the coronavirus pandemic to advance his administration’s anti-immigrant agenda in response to his Monday order expanding restrictions on temporary worker visas.

“This is another thinly-veiled attempt to implement radical changes to our immigration system, and to limit the number of non-citizens who are able to come to the U.S.,” tweeted the American Immigration Council. “This is not about public health or the economy.” Continue reading

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Leading US Retirees ‘Like Lambs to the Slaughter,’ Trump Labor Dept. Quietly Offers Up 401k Plans to Private Equity Vultures

“Private equity firms will now be allowed to access—and skim fees off of—the $9 trillion in 100 million workers’ 401(k) plans and IRAs.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-16-2020

Stephen Schwarzman, co-founder and CEO of Blackstone, at the Annual Meeting 2018 of the World Economic Forum in Davos. Photo; World Economic Forum/flickr/CC

With the American public’s attention consumed by the Covid-19 pandemic and mass protests against police brutality, the U.S. Labor Department earlier this month quietly gave corporate sponsors of retirement plans something they’ve been agitating over for years: a government green light to invest workers’ savings into funds managed by notoriously predatory private equity firms.

The move, announced on June 3 by Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia, allows large managers of 401(k) plans and individual retirement accounts (IRAs) to put workers’ retirement savings into private equity investments that offer the possibility of huge returns—and devastating losses. Continue reading

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The right to refuse unsafe work is more important than ever — but expect a fight

Photo: USDA

By Kathy Wilkes. Published 6-7-2020 by Huck/Konopacki Cartoons

The COVID-19 pandemic is taking a heavy toll on workers. Reports of job hazards grow increasingly dire as several governors and President Trump push past CDC guidelines to “reopen” the economy while forecasts predict soaring infections and deaths.

Some states at the direction of the Labor Department threaten termination of unemployment benefits for workers fearing return to dangerous jobs. A disturbing June 5 New York Times’ report reveals how far those machinations have gone. The result: workers fired without pay or benefits or trapped in a deadly vice between poverty and disease. Continue reading

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‘The Next Crisis’: Up to 43 Million Americans Could Lose Health Insurance Due to Pandemic, Study Shows

“The American healthcare financing system was not built to withstand the combined impact of a pandemic and a recession.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-10-2020

Analysts project that 43 million Americans could lose their insurance when the unemployment rate hits 20%. According to the Department of Labor, the current unemployment rate is 14.7%. (Photo: Elvert Barnes/Flickr/cc)

Medicare for All advocates on Sunday pointed to the latest study on the looming health insurance crisis already becoming apparent amid the coronavirus pandemic, which has led to job losses for more than 33 million people in the past two months.

Because health insurance is tied to employment for about half the country—160 million people—as many as 43 million are expected to lose their health insurance due to the pandemic, according to a new report by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the Urban Institute. Continue reading

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Former OSHA Officials Voice Alarm as Trump Tells Corporations They Don’t Have to Record Coronavirus Cases Among Their Workers

“If you work in a grocery store or factory then sorry, the coronavirus cases there probably aren’t being reported.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-12-2020

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci, Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue are among those attending a bill signing ceremony in the Oval Office of the White House on March 27, 2020 in Washington, D.C. Photo: White House/flickr

President Donald Trump’s Labor Department has quietly issued guidance informing most employers in the United States that they will not be required to record and report coronavirus cases among their workers because doing so would supposedly constitute an excessive burden on companies.

The new rules, released Friday by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), were met with alarm by public health experts and former Labor Department officials who said the new rules are an absurd attack on transparency that could further endanger frontline workers. Continue reading

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‘Talk About Direct Action Getting Results’: Bankrupt Blackjewel Agrees to Pay Over $5 Million to Laid Off Coal Miners Who Blocked Train Tracks

“When workers stand together, fight back, and demand an end to corporate greed—they win,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders.

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 10-25-2019

Coal miners from Blackjewel coal company started blocking a train in Cumberland, Kentucky on July 29, to prevent a shipment from their former employer until Blackjewel pats them their lost wages. The miners were suddenly put out of work when the company declared bankruptcy in July. Photo: BlackJewel Miners Blockade/Twitter

Progressives on Friday highlighted the power of direct action following a series of federal court settlements this week that will provide coal miners who blocked train tracks in Kentucky for nearly two months this summer to protest against unpaid wages from their bankrupt employer, Blackjewel LLC, with over $5 million in back pay.

Congratulating the laid off coal miners on their victory, longtime labor advocate and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt) tweeted Friday, “When workers stand together, fight back, and demand an end to corporate greed—they win.” Continue reading

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Trump Labor Dept Slammed for ‘Wholly Inadequate’ Overtime Pay Rule That ‘Leaves Behind Millions of Workers’

“Once again, President Trump has sided with the interests of corporate executives over those of working people.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-24-2019

President Donald Trump speaks at the Shell Pennsylvania Petrochemicals Complex in Monaca, Pennsylvania on Aug. 13, 2019.. Screenshot: YouTube

Labor rights advocates and progressive economists slammed the Trump administration after the Department of Labor announced Tuesday a final rule on overtime pay to replace a bolder Obama-era proposal blocked by a federal court in Texas.

“While the administration may be trumpeting this rule as a good thing for workers, that is a ruse,” said Heidi Shierholz, director of policy at the Economic Policy Institute (EPI). “In reality, the rule leaves behind millions of workers who would have received overtime protections under the much stronger rule, published in 2016, that Trump administration abandoned.” Continue reading

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Fresh Demands for Labor Secretary Alex Acosta’s Resignation Mount After Jeffrey Epstein Arrested for Child Sex Trafficking Charges

Acosta has long faced intense public criticism for helping Epstein secure a “sweetheart plea deal” while serving as Miami’s top federal prosecutor

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-7-2019

U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta reached a deal with Jeffrey Epstein, an alleged serial child molester and associate of President Donald Trump’s, allowing Epstein to walk free. (Photo: Gage Skidmore/Flickr/cc)

The arrest of financier and registered sex offender Jeffrey Epstein on federal child sex trafficking charges elicited fresh demands for the resignation of Trump Labor Secretary Alex Acosta, who helped Epstein secure a “sweetheart plea deal” for previous allegations while serving as Miami’s top federal prosecutor over a decade ago.

Following news of Epstein’s arrest late Saturday, reporters, politicians, and other observers called on Acosta to immediately step down—bolstering demands that have mounted in recent months amid a legal challenge to Epstein’s deal filed by survivors. Continue reading

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