In July, Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao joined the Federal Coordinator for Gulf Coast Rebuilding to tour the recently re-opened New Orleans Job Corps Center. Chao, along with Coordinator Donald E. Powell, highlighted the Job Corps’ many contributions in helping the region recover and rebuild after the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina.
“In re-opening the New Orleans Job Corps Center, we honored the ongoing commitment to stand strong with the residents, especially the youth, of this great city,” said Secretary Chao.
The New Orleans Job Corps Center was re-opened after construction was completed to repair damages sustained in Hurricane Katrina. The center now offers training in carpentry, as well as health occupations such as certified nursing assistant, phlebotomy and EKG technician, and medical office support. As the center moves toward full strength, additional programs including training for security guards and painting contractors will be introduced.
“As I have said from the start of the recovery effort, diversifying the economy is key to developing a diverse regional economy and a vibrant middle class,” said Chairman Powell. “I thank Secretary Chao for being a champion for the region and supporting all local leaders seeking to build a seamless, integrated system of workforce development.”
The Secretary of Labor went on to add, “Job Corps students and staff nationwide have raised thousands of dollars for hurricane relief, provided care packages and volunteered countless hours with the American Red Cross. They also partnered with Habitat for Humanity to build 11 new homes for Hurricane Katrina victims — the largest skill-based community service project in the Job Corps’ 43-year history.”
Over the past two years, the U.S. Department of Labor has dedicated resources to workforce development in the Gulf Coast and New Orleans. These resources will contribute to the region’s redevelopment.
A recent grant of $15 million will benefit New Orleans youth through temporary jobs and training opportunities. The grant is part of an ongoing effort at hurricane recovery in the troubled Mississippi Delta city and throughout Louisiana.
“This $15 million grant will help at risk young people in New Orleans with valuable skills training, educational opportunities and job experience while at the same time participate in the recovery of their communities from Hurricane Katrina,” said Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao.
The grant was awarded to the Louisiana Department of Labor’s Office of Workforce Development earlier this year. The goal is to provide about 1,200 temporary jobs to young people without previous job experience.
Activities under the grant program offer young people the chance to receive occupational skills training, and the opportunity to earn a high school diploma and receive post-secondary education through area community colleges.
A number of programs in the region have been very successful. For example, the River Paris WIA Program in Covenent, Louisiana recently won a U. S. Department of Labor award for “Serving Out-of-School Youth”. The program demonstrated innovate techniques in “collaborating with educators, businesses, industry and other essential partners” to train and hire young people.
Despite all the recovery efforts, the Gulf Coast Region has been plagued with problems. A number of minimum wage violations have been prosecuted by the U.S. Department of Labor, including one involving work on two navy facilities. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division is still searching for a number of workers who participated in post-Katrina renovations or repairs in Louisiana and Mississippi.
The workers are entitled to back pay from sub-contractors on the projects. The projects involve work done at the Naval Construction Battalion Center in Gulfport or the Naval Air Station/Joint Reserve Base in Belle Chasse, Louisiana. Anyone who believes that they are owed back wages for these projects can contact the nearest U.S. Department of Labor office.
Despite problems, the regions future looks bright. “The New Orleans Job Corps Center is providing worker training in key fields where skilled workers are needed to build a brighter future for the Gulf Coast,” said Secretary Chao. “The Job Corps will continue to make a lasting impact on the lives of young people in New Orleans. They, in turn, will make a difference for New Orleans.”
A recent report from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in Louisiana has revealed some shocking news… according to the Louisiana worker safety alert, the number of injuries and deaths which have resulted from the use of All-Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) in the workplace is on the rise. While most people may not realize that ATVs are even used in the workplace, these small vehicles have been experiencing an increased popularity among diverse industries such as law enforcement, security, agriculture, and even manufacturing.
The troubling statistics revealed in the Louisiana worker safety alert indicate that workplace accidents involving ATVs have been increasing each year between 1992 and 2004. This is due in large part to the fact that these vehicles don’t handle like most vehicles that the users may be used to operating; they can be difficult to steer, the suspension is different than they may be used to, and they can be prone to tipping over on inclines or when going over especially rough terrain. To make matters worse, the ATVs are often overloaded and become even more prone to tip over.
In order to help combat these injuries and deaths, OSHA has made some recommendations for employers. Before allowing employees to operate ATVs, the employer should make sure that they have received proper training on the operation of the ATV and are familiar with how it handles. More care should be taken when placing any payload on the vehicle, making sure that it isn’t overloaded, and all ATV users should wear a protective helmet at all times. Though these steps may seem simple and like common sense, OSHA found that in many cases no such training was taking place and important safety precautions were being ignored by workplace ATV operators.
Hopefully, as more employers heed the advice on the Louisiana OSHA alert the number of workplace accidents involving ATVs will begin to decline.
Would you know what to do if an influenza pandemic were to occur? If such an outbreak were to occur, and according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration there is no sign of a flu pandemic, you can protect yourself by doing many of the things you do to protect yourself from the seasonal flu.
Use disposable tissues, especially to cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze.
If you’re sick, stay home
Stay at least 6 feet away from anyone who’s sick.
Clean your hands with sanitizer or wash them frequently.
According to a recent Louisiana OSHA alert, employers and their employees should have a plan in place to prepare for the possibility of a flu pandemic.
An influenza pandemic, like the Spanish Flu from 1918 to 1920, is caused by a new strain of the virus that no one has had a chance to develop an immunity to. It’s fatal to many, unlike the common seasonal flu of which most have developed antibodies to fight. The common seasonal flu is not dangerous to healthy adults and only poses a risk to the elderly, children, or those with compromised immune systems.
The Spanish Flu, named so after the exposure it received in Spanish newspapers, killed more than 50 million people in 18 months. Even healthy young adults died within days of getting the virus.
A modern pandemic could have a bigger negative impact on the global economy than any single terrorist attack.
Employers can protect their workers, should a pandemic occur, by reducing contact, allowing employees to work from home, and installing drive-thru windows or other barriers to protect their workers from the public.
The seasonal flu is not a major threat neither is there a new strain of the virus going around. So, the public shouldn’t be worried. The precautions stated by the OSHA are just that…precautions. It’s always better to be prepared.
Louisiana loves its veterans, and the state wants its employers to love these veterans just as much. This is a recent trend we have been seeing lately. It seems I am all about reporting the trends lately. And that is what being a good labor law news blogger is all about, right? Reporting on the most important trends that employers in certain states, and employers across the United States, should know about, right?
Well, taking care if veterans has been a mantra across many states that we have been looking at lately, and Louisiana is not any different. Just this coming March 8 for instance in Lafayette, Louisiana, the state Department of Labor is holding a job fair just for veterans. All employers in the state are invited to attend, in order to find themselves dependable, well trained, and eager employees for their company.
The job fair will take place from 9 am to noon at the Holiday Inn Holidome Atrium in Lafayette. Call the hotel or visit the Department of Labor’s Web site for more information on the address and directions to the site if you are interested.
The Department of Labor is calling upon employers to attend and hire some of these veterans, claiming that veterans provide a level of training, maturity, and responsibility that employers might not be able to find your average civilian worker. The state is expecting such a turn out, in fact, that it is recommending that interested businesses contact them as early as possible to reserve booth space.
To get in, veterans will have to present their military credentials or their dismissal papers. Veterans’ spouses are also allowed to participate in the event. Of course, these participants should not forget their resumes and their smiles, as well as the enthusiasm to spread the good word about themselves to all of the prospective employers at the fair, one of whom could be you.
Employers and employees alike are often interested in finding out what labor laws apply in their state. The state of Louisiana has a few key labor laws you might want to be familiar with if you live or work in that state.
Child labor laws are a topic many people want to know about. Louisiana labor laws require all employees under 18 to get work certificates or permits. State law also strictly regulates the hours minors may work and the types of industries they may be employed in. For example, 14 and 15 year olds may only work until 7pm on a day preceding a school day. Employees who are 16 may only work until 11pm, and employees who are 17 may only work until midnight.
When it comes to laws about wages and hours worked, there are not many under Louisiana’s labor laws. Overtime, minimum wage, breaks, and the regulation of salaried employees are all topics not covered by state law. Employees who quit or are terminated are guaranteed payment by their next regular payday or 15 days from their last day of work, whichever is sooner. This must include accrued vacation time. Louisiana labor law also prohibits several types of unauthorized paycheck deductions.
Louisiana’s labor laws protect workers from several types of discrimination. State law prohibits discrimination based on race, sex, age, religion, color, national origin, or disability, status as a smoker or nonsmoker, or sickle cell trait. There is also a pregnancy discrimination law that applies to employers with 25 or more employees.
The labor law of Louisiana provides for many other provisions to help workers. These include unemployment benefits for those who lose their job, workers’ compensation to help employees injured on the job, various health and safety regulations, apprenticeship laws, and the regulation of private employment agencies.
These Louisiana labor laws, as well as other applicable federal labor laws, can be found on the Louisiana Complete Labor Law Poster.