Long overdue: winning back pay and benefits for workers
Workers deserve to keep the wages and benefits they earn. That may sound like an obvious statement, but to some employers, it’s not clear at all. In recent years, the U.S. Labor Department has collected hundreds of millions of dollars in back wages and benefits for hundreds of thousands of workers whose employers tried to deny them what they had rightfully earned. Now the department has recovered nearly $8 million worth of earnings and benefits to more than 2,000 employees whose employer failed to make payroll for their last two and half weeks of employment.
MSHA not catching ‘scofflaw violators,’ report says
Investigators from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Inspector General have found that federal regulators are not identifying “scofflaw violators” who don’t pay mine safety and health fines, allowing those mine operators to avoid debt-collection lawsuits or other enforcement actions. The department’s Mine Safety and Health Administration “does not have an accurate view” of the amount of delinquent fines it is owed or when the violations that drew those fines were committed, according to the Inspector General’s report.
OSHA – responsible for worker safety – rarely visits Coos
Under federal law the Occupational Health and Safety Administration is responsible for making sure workers are protected on the job. But the federal agency rarely scrutinizes the North Country in New Hampshire. As NHPR’s Chris Jensen reports, it’s raising questions about how well workers are protected on the job.
Flawed test used to evaluate soldiers’ brain injuries
Tens of thousands of soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan suffer concussions and other difficult-to-detect traumatic brain injuries, often the result of bombings by insurgents. To identify troops needing care for these injuries, Congress in 2007 passed a measure requiring the military to test soldiers’ brain function before they deploy and when they return. But an investigation by the news organizations ProPublica and NPR has found that the computerized cognitive test being used by the military, and the way it is being administered, are badly flawed. What’s more, the test — known as Automated Neuropsychological Assessment Metric, or ANAM — was chosen hurriedly, without proof that it is effective.
Heading a football ‘could lead to brain damage’
Frequent “heading” of soccer balls by avid amateur players may cause brain damage leading to subtle but serious declines in thinking and coordination skills, a new study suggests.
San Diego lifeguard wins gender discrimination lawsuit
Alison Terry is one of the best swimmers to come out of San Diego, setting numerous high school records and competing in the Olympic Trials. But after more than a decade working summers as a lifeguard in San Diego, she couldn’t get hired for a full-time year-round lifeguarding job. On Nov. 18 a jury unanimously awarded Terry, 37, a $100,000 judgment in a gender discrimination lawsuit against the city of San Diego, finding there was intentional discrimination that led to a situation where only six women and 88 men held year-round managerial lifeguard positions with salary and benefits.
Housekeepers charge Hyatt fired them for taking down their own photos
Passing through the halls one day in September, Martha Reyes stopped to see why a group of her Hyatt co-workers stood laughing in front of a bulletin board. Looking closer, she saw photos of her head, and those of other housekeeping employees, pasted onto bodies in swimsuits. Martha’s sister Lorena was also included in the beach-themed display, which Hyatt management had posted over the weekend as part of Housekeeping Appreciation Week. Martha Reyes took down her picture and her sister’s. A month later, alleging they spent too long on their lunch break, the Hyatt Regency Santa Clara fired both of them. The sisters charge that the non-union hotel was retaliating against them over the bulletin board.
Ohio fabrication plant fined $90,760 for altering injury, illness logs
OSHA has cited Odom Industries in Milford, Ohio, for 38 safety and health violations, including three willful violations for allegedly amending the company’s OSHA 300 injury and illness logs by removing all recordable injuries. OSHA initiated an inspection of the fabrication plant after receiving a complaint alleging that injured workers, who were unable to perform their normal jobs, were moved to other jobs to avoid recordable injuries on the OSHA 300 logs.
TOSHA proposes $80K fine for May fire
Hoeganaes faces another $80,000 in fines from the Tennessee Occupational Safety and Health Administration for 23 serious violations found following an investigation of the May 27 incident at the company’s Gallatin facility. The fire, caused by an explosion of hydrogen gas from a leaking pipe underneath the floor, killed three workers and injured two others. The new penalties mean the company faces a total of close to $123,000 in fines from the combined three incidents in 2011.
For business, golden days; for workers, the dross
IN the eight decades before the recent recession, there was never a period when as much as 9 percent of American gross domestic product went to companies in the form of after-tax profits. Now the figure is over 10 percent. During the same period, there never was a quarter when wage and salary income amounted to less than 45 percent of the economy. Now the figure is below 44 percent. For companies, these are boom times. For workers, the opposite is true.