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Perspectives from U.S. Federal Labor – Week of June 14, 2021

This is a weekly article highlighting the labor topics that the US legislature and executive have focused on the week before. In this issue, we cover:

  • Ministry of Labor regulatory program for spring 2021
  • Leadership Updates from the Work of the Biden Administration
  • Senate HELPS Republican leaders lobby for hearing on President’s budget proposal
  • WIOA Hearing of the House Education and Labor Subcommittee
  • House Republicans challenge ethics waivers for union members
  • OSHA Grants Announced for Nonprofits
  • Department of Labor grants related to female workers
  • GAO Report on Racial and Ethnic Disparities and Unemployment Insurance Benefits

Spring 2021 regulatory program of the Ministry of Labor. Last Friday, June 11, as part of the Biden administration’s spring 2021 regulatory program, the U.S. Department of Labor announced a series of advance regulatory measures it says will ensure the well-being of workers, employers and others. In a press release, the Ministry highlighted as priorities:

  • Raise the minimum wage for federal contractors: In response to Executive Order 14026, “Increased Minimum Wage for Federal Contractors,” the Department’s Wages and Hours Division is drafting a regulation that will increase the hourly minimum wage rate paid by contracting parties with the federal government to $ 15 for employees working on or in connection with a federal government covered contract.
  • Fairness for workers who rely on tips: The Wages and Hours Division is also engaged in the development of rules to ensure the economic security of tipping workers.
  • Modernization of the Davis-Bacon and Related Acts (DBRA) regulation: The DBRA requires payment of locally applicable wages and social benefits to workers and mechanics as determined by the department. The Wages and Hours division is proposing to update and modernize regulations implementing the DBRA to ensure that workers receive the wages in effect on federal construction contracts.
  • Reviewing the Approach to Investments Addressing Climate Change: To implement Executive Order 13990, “Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis” and Executive Order 14030, “Climate-Related Financial Risks”, the Employee Benefits Security Administration is undertaking a review of regulations under of Title I of the Employees Retirement Income Security Act, including “Financial Factors in Selecting Plan Investments” and “Fiduciary Duties Regarding Proxy Voting and Shareholder Rights”.

The Ministry of Labor also noted:

Previous regulations are also proposed for withdrawal due to their deleterious effects on workers’ lives, including a rule on labor standards in apprenticeship.

The full biannual agenda of the Department is available here.

Leadership updates from the work of the Biden administration. The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) presented the following nominations on June 16, sending them to the Senate for consideration:

  • Rajesh nayak serve as Assistant Secretary of Labor for Policy by a vote of 14 to 8;
  • Taryn williams serve as Deputy Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy by a vote of 18 to 4; and
  • Doug parker to serve as Deputy Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health by 13 votes to 9.

Senate HELPS Republican leaders lobby for hearing on President’s budget proposal. Ranking members of the three Senate HELP subcommittees said they had sent letters to their respective subcommittee chairs requesting appropriate hearings on the president’s proposed budget of $ 6 trillion for the fiscal year. 2022. They underlined: “Most authorization committees hold budget hearings with their respective ministerial agencies so that members of the authorization committee can better understand the proposed budget request.” The letters were signed by Senator Bill Cassidy (R-Louisiana), a senior member of the Subcommittee on Children and Families; Senator Mike Braun (R-Indiana), senior member of the employment and safety at work subcommittee; and Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine), a senior member of the Primary Health and Retirement Security Subcommittee.

Hearing of the WIOA House Education and Labor Subcommittee. On June 15, the House Education and Labor Subcommittee on Workforce Investment held a hearing titled “Reauthorization of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act. (WIOA): Examining Successful Employment Models for Those Involved in Justice. ”This is WIOA’s third hearing at this congress and it focused on inmates and the process of reintegration into communities after release and obtaining a career.

House Republicans are challenging ethics waivers for union members. Virginia Foxx (R-North Carolina) and James Comer (R-Kentucky) wrote Acting Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Shalanda Young and Office of Personnel Management. (OPM) Kathleen McGettigan, Acting Director, regarding the Biden administration’s use of ethics waivers to respond to what she sees as an effort to bring union influence into the federal government. In particular, they challenge Presidential Executive Order (EO) 13989 of President Biden and the appointments of former American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) employee Celeste Drake as director of the Made in America office. at the OMB, and former Alethea Predeoux, an employee of the Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), will be director of the Office of Congressional, Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs at the OPM. The EO allows former union leaders, like Drake and Predeoux, to take administrative positions in which they will interact directly with their former employers and create a situation in which unions can directly benefit from the policies of the Biden administration.

OSHA Grants Announced for Nonprofit Organizations. On June 17, the Department of Labor announced funding opportunities for more than $ 21 million in Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) training grants for nonprofit organizations. The grants are divided into two funding streams: (1) $ 10 million under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 for occupational safety and health training in infectious diseases, including grants for coronaviruses; and (2) $ 11.8 million under the Susan Harwood Training Grants Program, which includes training on topics, development of training and education materials, as well as new grants for capacity building. capabilities. Eligibility for these grants can be found here. Those interested in grants under the American Rescue Plan Act should submit their applications no later than 11:59 p.m. EDT July 19, 2021. If interested in grants under the Susan Harwood program, applications should be submitted by 11:59 p.m. EDT on August 17, 2021.

Subsidies from the Department of Labor related to female workers. On June 15, the Department of Labor announced a $ 1.5 million funding opportunity available to 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands to develop partnerships with community organizations and other non-profit organizations to raise awareness among women workers. to help them understand and exercise their rights and benefits in the workplace. This initiative will support up to six grants. Potential applicants are encouraged to notify the Ministry of their intention to apply for the Advancing Access, Rights and Equity (FARE) initiative by sending an email. [email protected] no later than June 30, 2021. Interested parties must provide one or more of the following services:

  • Provide outreach services to vulnerable, low-income and marginalized workers.
  • Disseminate educational material through various platforms including social media, in-person or virtual events, brochures and flyers, one-on-one consultations and other outreach activities.
  • Help workers navigate and calculate benefits and direct and direct workers to additional services, benefits and / or legal assistance.
  • Raise awareness of women’s rights to benefits and assistance in their own communities.

GAO Report on Racial and Ethnic Disparities and Unemployment Insurance Benefits. On June 17, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-Massachusetts) and Worker and Family Support Subcommittee Chairman Danny Davis (D-Illinois) released a statement in response to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) report titled “Management Report: Preliminary Information on Potential Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Receiving Unemployment Insurance Benefits During the COVID-19 Pandemic.” They said:

Today’s GAO report clearly shows that white workers who apply for unemployment insurance benefits are more likely to receive them than black workers, which is totally unacceptable. We already knew that people of color were disproportionately more likely to get sick from COVID-19 and more likely to lose their jobs, and now we’re finding out that on top of all that, they’ve also been excluded from this program. vital. . . . . It is clear that aggressive monitoring of state unemployment insurance systems must be carried out to understand the root cause of these disparities and to ensure that eligible workers receive their legitimate and deserved benefits. . . . More needs to be done, which is why Democrats on the Ways and Means Committee are working on legislation to give the DOL all the authority it needs to exercise proper oversight, uphold the highest standards by states and eliminate discrimination. The Committee’s Racial Equity Initiative was created to lead our work to end such disparities, and we stand firm in our commitment to achieving racial and economic justice.

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