Employers have received fair warning from theWashington Division of Labor & Industry that they must update Washington labor law posters before January 1, 2009. The agency reports that a number of companies are not in compliance. In particular, several have neglected to update their federal labor law posters since the increase on July 24, 2008.
Despite a national unemployment average of just 4%, there are isolated regions or “pockets” of the U.S. that remain immune to the improvement in the jobless rate.
The U.S. Labor Department’s WIRED grants are designed to reach into those regions and improve their economies.
A Washington wired grant would be great for the state’s unemployed workers. An Indiana unemployment grant under the WIRED program was awarded during round two of the grants. The grant was good news for workers in the northern part of the state – a region that historically has suffered high unemployment.
Now the third round of competition for the grants is open. “The WIRED Initiative,” said Secretary Chao, “recognizes that local economies often do not neatly conform to geographic boundaries.” She said WIRED “brings different organizations together to help prepare workforces by supplying them with the skills needed to succeed in the 21st century worldwide economy.” Those organizations may be economic development groups, foundations, community colleges, businesses and universities.
This blog’s readership knows about the value of the WIRED grants when it comes to targeting and improving those regions that don’t seem to benefit from improved national employment trends. Like past WIRED grant applications, these will be open to every state and territory. Governors have received letters announcing the new round. Each governor is allowed to submit a maximum of two proposals (this is a regional grant) at a ceiling of $5 million each. The regions involved must show other sources of funding they receive – whether from private, state, or regional organizations. The competition is stiff, but the rewards are worth the effort.
Regions like those targeted by the Washington unemployment grant are the exceptions to the national rule. The national average of 4% puts it below the significant 5% point – economists consider anything below 5% to be a job “shortage.” The picture is even better for college-educated and highly skilled workers. For them, the national average is 1.9%.
WIRED stands for “Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development.
The unemployment rate in the United States is generally good. The most recent national figures show that unemployment is around 4% throughout the nation. Normally, any rate of unemployment below 5% is considered a labor shortage by economists. The unemployment rate for highly skilled workers is even lower, at just 1.9% nationwide. Still, there are regions across the U.S. where unemployment is higher. WIRED grants are designed to address that problem.
Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development Initiative is the complete name of the WIRED grants.
WIRED is a program by the U.S. Dept. of Labor to stimulate the economy and increase employment in selected regions. The WIRED process of selection is very competitive. In February 2006, the Labor Department announced the winners of the initial WIRED competition. At that time, grants were awarded to 13 regions, including one to Northern Indiana.
Recently, US Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao made a great announce. The Labor Department launched the competition for the third round of WIRED grants.
According to Chao, “WIRED brings together universities, businesses, community colleges, foundations and economic development organizations to help equip regional workforces with the skills needed to succeed in the 21st century worldwide economy.”
The Secretary added, “The WIRED Initiative recognizes that local economies often do not neatly conform to geographic boundaries.”
Not all of the money for WIRED programs comes from the federal government. Each WIRED proposal must identify private, regional or state sources of funding in addition to the Labor Department’s investment. Each proposal for up to $5 million must be approved by the governor of the state. Two proposals is the maximum number that each governor can present.
The Labor Department’s WIRED grants have had an important role in reducing unemployment in isolated regions, and stimulating local economies.
If someone told you that one of the major causes of accidental deaths was motor vehicle accidents, would you believe me? How about if they told you that the second most frequent cause of death was tripping and falling at work? As a matter of fact, that’s true, as well. Fifteen percent of all accidental deaths at work are a result of tripping and slipping and falling. That’s why the Washington OSHA recently released an alert on keeping employees safe.
How safe is your work environment? The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) made edits to the requirements for most permanent places of employment. This is to improve working and walking surfaces to prevent accidents. Splinters, loose floorboards, loose screws and other such hazards should be eliminated. Floors should be kept as dry as possible. Areas that use a lot of water should have clear, well working drainage. Mops and warning signs should also be kept handy in these areas, just in case. Emergency exits should be clearly marked and easily accessed.
In keeping with these ideas, aisles should be wide enough for people to comfortably walk through. In essence, there should be enough space for a couple people to walk through at once. Many times large, wide, and heavy equipment is used in between aisles. There should be more than enough space for any machinery to fit, without being scratched or otherwise damaged.
In addition to all of these basic standards of conditions, the Washington OSHA has encouraged businesses to raise awareness of the problem. The Slips Trips and Falls poster is a great way to remind employees to keep the aisles clear, the walkways dry, and the workspaces tidy. Having people patrol around occasionally to insure that these standards are met, and the posters are visible is a good idea. It is most effective to involve workers by making them aware of the issue and instructing them on how to keep things safe and sound.
Okay, just so we are all on the same page when it comes to what I’m writing about here.
Washington law states that all employers must post Washington Department of Labor posters in an area that is visible and accessible to employees so that they can be informed of their labor law rights. These Washington Department of Labor posters include individual state and federal labor law notices that are mandated by the State of Washington.
Washington Department of Labor posters change frequently, and I think it is important that you are aware of that. If employees are to be kept up to date on their labor rights, which is the law, it is important that these Washington Department of Labor posters are current.
Anyway, at this point you are probably wondering what notices are included on the Washington Department of Labor posters. The state posters address Unemployment Insurance, Employee Rights for Non-Agricultural Workers, Employee Rights for Agricultural Workers, Family Medical and Leave Act, Injury on the Job, Discrimination, OSHA, and Minimum Wage, while the federal posters explain Equal Opportunity Employment, Federal Minimum Wage, the Employee Polygraph Protection Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, OSHA’s Job Safety and Health Protection Act, and USERRA.
If you haven’t looked at Washington Department of Labor posters in a while, you should know that that employee rights notice has been changed so that existing legal language regarding child labor provisions has been added to the poster.
So that’s what’s new on the Washington Department of Labor posters. Hope you found this information interesting. I’ll be sure to keep you updated as other changes arise.