House transportation bill: lobbying and lawsuits behind move to strip worker protections
House Republicans are trying to pass a transportation bill that would strip certain workers of their minimum-wage and overtime protections. As it turns out, several of the companies that would benefit from the change have recently been sued by their employees for allegedly violating wage laws.
All politics aren’t local: Florida GOP wants to block local govt. from enforcing wage and hour laws
In a break from conservatives’ typical interest in devolving power to local governments, Florida State Republicans are pushing a bill that would forbid local municipalities from enforcing wage and hour laws. This is because in November 2010, South Florida Interfaith Worker Justice and a number of other groups successfully advocated for the Miami-Dade County Wage Theft Ordinance, considered by many to be a model wage theft law for the rest of the country.
Miners sue Patriot Coal over workplace safety
Five miners at the Federal Number 2 mine have filed a class action lawsuit against the operator, Patriot Coal, and individual managers. The miners claim there were intentional, willful, reckless, and wanton violations of employee safety. The suit claims one of the defendants found high methane levels on 19 occasions and failed to evacuate the mine, and falsified readings.
Foxconn auditor finds ‘tons of issues’
The Fair Labor Association, a watchdog monitoring working conditions at makers of Apple Inc. products, has uncovered “tons of issues” that need to be addressed at a Foxconn Technology Group plant in Shenzhen, China, FLA Chief Executive Officer Auret van Heerden said. Heather White, the founder of Verite, another monitoring group, said that many alleged violations — say, forced overtime or use of certain toxic chemicals — can be hard to detect.
More than 200 soldiers are suing KBR for knowingly exposing them to toxic chemicals in Iraq, whose effects started with nose bleeds and could end with cancer. KBR says that didn’t happen. But even if it did, the company isn’t responsible. Taxpayers are.
DOT ‘distracted driving’ rules would limit cars’ info systems
The Transportation Department announced first-ever guidelines aimed at preventing distracted driving that would eliminate the ability to do a lot of infotainment functions while the car is moving. In particular, drivers could not “visual-manual” text message, browse the Internet, look at their Facebook accounts, key in an address into the navigation system, input a phone number or see more than 30 characters of any incoming message unless the car is stopped and out of gear.
OSHA fines Jeffboat over worker’s death last year
The death of a Jeffboat employee in August has led to nine federal safety violations that could cost the Jeffersonville, Ind., ship-building company $119,00 in fines. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration said it issued the citations Wednesday. They bring the total violations for the company to 46 since May 2010, when two other employees were killed about a week apart. Steve Duncan, 54, of Pekin, died in August when a transfer car he was repairing activated, raising him on its hydraulic jack and crushing him against a barge.
ICE agent wounded in California federal building is high-ranking official
A man wounded in a shooting at a federal building in Long Beach, Calif., is a high-ranking Immigration and Customs Enforcement official, according to a law enforcement official who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because of a lack of authorization to release information. The source said an agent who was killed was a subordinate who did not report directly to the higher-level official at the office of ICE Homeland Security Investigations.