On June 27, as its term ended, the Supreme Court of the United States declined to hear the case of Home Care Association of America v. Weil, closing the door on the industry’s and for-profit companies’ last-ditch attempt to prevent home care workers from keeping their newly-won right to the minimum wage and overtime pay. More about the decision is here.
The National Employment Law Project has a good review of the long road to achieving this important victory for some of our lowest-paid, and most vulnerable, workers, most of whom are women of color. Home Care Workers Long March to Justice
Penalties for workplace safety and health violations — investigated and administered by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) — are among the lowest of all federal regulatory agencies. For example, the maximum fine that OSHA can administer, even where a violation causes death, is $7,000. If the death is caused by the employer’s willful conduct, the fine can rise to $70,000. By comparison, the Federal Communications Commission can fine TV or radio stations up to $325,000 for indecent content. The Environmental Protection Agency can impose a $270,000 penalty for violations of the Clean Air Act.
As of July 1, OSHA has announced it will raise its fines for the first time in decades. Maximum OSHA fines will increase by about 80 percent, to approximately $12,000 for a serious violation and $120,000 for a willful violation of the law. Even with this increase, the fines are still low in comparison to other federal agencies. But it is a step in the right direction. Read more here.
Have a question about conditions at work or need to file a complaint about health and safety violations at your workplace? In Louisiana, call (225) 298-5458 or 1-800-321-OSHA.
This week marks the beginning of summer—family reunions, barbeques, and beach vacations— for those who can afford it. Those who can’t include hotel housekeepers, who like many U.S. workers over the past three decades have seen the standard features of a middle-class lifestyle grow even farther out of reach while productivity has more than doubled. …
The Department of Labor’s new overtime rule significantly increases the number of people who qualify for time-and-a-half pay for any hours they work beyond 40 in a week.
Here is how the new rule will affect workers in Louisiana:
Share of salaried workforce directly benefiting: 24.5%
Number of people directly benefiting:174,000
Share of total salaried workforce covered under new threshold:40.8%
Today the Obama administration and Secretary of Labor Tom Perez unveil a new rule that expands eligibility for overtime pay. The new regulations increase the income threshold below which salaried workers must be paid time-and-a-half for hours worked over 40 per week.
President Obama and Secretary of Labor Tom Perez announce new overtime regulations.
This morning, John Bel Edwards was sworn in as Louisiana’s 56th governor. While not minimizing the state’s significant fiscal challenges, Gov. Edwards understands that the state’s economy and prosperity cannot improve without improving the lives of its working families.
“In Louisiana, 1 in 4 school-aged children live in poverty. That’s unacceptable and it MUST change.
It’s unacceptable when a parent’s hard work isn’t enough to pay the bills or go to a doctor. I’ve traveled from Algiers to Zwolle and met countless single mothers working for minimum wage behind a cash register at a gas station. Often, it’s one of several jobs they have, and they still battle to make ends meet. The faces are different, but their struggles are the same.
On top of not paying our workers a living wage, women in Louisiana make an average 66 cents on the dollar compared to men. We are the worst state in the union for pay equity. That is unacceptable. Not just for my daughters, but for all women.”
Pledging that “[w]e must make it possible for all Louisiana citizens to be healthy and prosperous,” Gov. Edwards will seek to expand Medicaid to enable many of the state’s working families access to healthcare under the Affordable Care Act. He also called for an increase in wages and for wage equity in the state.
The full text of Gov. Edwards’ speech may be read here.
On August 18, Mayor Mitch Landrieu signed into law a new living wage ordinance for New Orleans’ city contractors and financial assistance recipients.
“If you’re working full-time, you should not be living below the poverty line,” Landrieu said.
The ordinance was sponsored by Councilmember Jared Brossett. It will apply to city contractors with contracts worth at least $25,000 and to companies or organizations that receive more than $100,000 in financial assistance from the city, including subsidies and tax breaks, over a 12-month period. Covered businesses must also provide workers with seven days of paid sick leave annually.
TakePart’s profile of the workers who came to help rebuild New Orleans 10 years ago and who remain, despite wage theft and discrimination. Their story is very much the heart of the Workplace Justice Project and the Wage Claim Clinic and is still an essential element of the landscape for low-wage workers in New Orleans.