Tag Archives: Department of Labor

‘Catastrophe’ Feared as 35 Million People Are Set to Lose Jobless Aid in 3 Days

“Millions will suffer as they lose this critical source of income and the loss of spending will suppress job growth.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams.  Published 9-3-2021

Members of the Georgia State Defense Force from across the state pack supply boxes at Second Harvest of South Georgia food bank in Valdosta, Ga. Photo: Georgia National Guard/Wikimedia/CC

Millions of jobless workers are set to lose critical unemployment benefits in roughly 72 hours—and neither Congress nor the Biden administration seem prepared to do anything about it.

Despite the ongoing threat posed by the highly transmissible Delta variant, the White House and Democratic lawmakers have provided no indication that they plan to prevent several pandemic-related unemployment programs from expiring on September 6, which—in a cruel irony—happens to be Labor Day. Continue reading

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‘Dangerous Precedent’: US High Court Sides With Corporate Giants Nestle and Cargill in Child Slavery Case

A lawyer for six men who alleged they were victims of human trafficking said the corporations “should be held accountable for abetting a system of child slavery.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-17-2021

Neal Katyal speaking at the National Constitution Center’s 2012 Peter Jennings Project moot court. Photo: National Constitution Center/flickr/CC

Human rights advocates Thursday denounced a Supreme Court decision in favor of the U.S. corporate giants Nestlé USA and Cargill, which were sued more than a decade ago by six men who say the two companies were complicit in child trafficking and profited when the men were enslaved on cocoa farms as children.

The Supreme Court ruled 8-1 against the plaintiffs, saying they had not proven the companies’ activities in the U.S. were sufficiently tied to the alleged child trafficking. The companies had argued that they could not be sued in the U.S. for activities that took place in West Africa. Continue reading

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‘Shameful Failure’: Biden’s OSHA Excludes Most Workers From Covid Protections

“We’ve learned over decades that employers, especially in low wage industries, rarely choose to prioritize their workers’ safety; we need government to mandate actions that safeguard lives and well-being,” said Oxfam America.

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-10-2021

Screenshot: 12news

Scientists and workers’ rights advocates were among those late Wednesday who denounced the Biden administration’s new workplace safety rules regarding the Covid-19 pandemic, which were unveiled months later than expected and which the Labor Department made enforceable only for healthcare settings—leaving grocery store employees, manufacturing workers, and others vulnerable to the continuing public health crisis, critics said.

At a Wednesday hearing of the House Education and Labor Committee, Labor Secretary Marty Walsh told lawmakers that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) final Covid-19 Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) will apply only to healthcare workplaces, requiring those employers “to provide their workers with a safe and healthful workplace free from recognized hazards that are causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm.” Continue reading

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Critics Say Deregulatory Rush Shows Even If Defeated the Trump White House Willing to ‘Scorch the Earth Before They Go’

From bomb trains to biometrics to workers’ rights, the administration is pushing for last-minute rollbacks that could prove hard for its successor to overturn.

By Brett Wilkins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 10-17-2020

President Donald Trump signs an executive order in the White House. Photo: White House/flickr

With President Donald Trump’s re-election very much in doubt, his administration is rushing to ram through regulatory rollbacks that could adversely affect millions of Americans, the environment, and the ability of Joe Biden—should he win—to pursue his agenda or even undo the damage done over the past four years.

Reporting by the New York Times details how the administration is cutting corners as it scrambles to enact as much of its agenda as possible before ceding power on January 20 if Trump loses the election. Required public comment periods and detailed analyses, according to the Times, are being eschewed in favor of streamlined approval processes that have left even staunch deregulation defenders sounding the alarm. Continue reading

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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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