DOL forcing media to use government computers

by Mark Tapscott

Unrest is simmering in some quarters of the Washington news universe regarding changes in the way the Department of Labor (DOL) manages its pre-release media “lockups” on sensitive data like weekly jobless benefits and unemployment.

For years, journalists participating in the lockups have shown up at DOL at the appointed time, then entered a limited-access area to receive the new data and prepare news stories for release as soon as official embargoes end.

The system insures that major news organizations get the data as soon as possible and allows journalists covering the release get a jump on providing analyses and opinion about the data.

But Carl Fillichio, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis’ top communications advisor, circulated a memo earlier this week to interested media informing them that everybody is being required to re-submit their credentials requests.

Fillichio reminded participants that there are only 20-30 seats available for the lockups and that priority will be given by DOL in selecting participants to those that “are primarily journalistic enterprises.”

He also offered a one-sentence assurance that “the department will not consider editorial or political viewpoints in making credentialing decisions.”

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Obama announces new rule that benefits SEIU

The article below is posted on the U.S. Dept. of Labor’s Blog Site

Providing Protections for In-Home Care Workers

by Secretary Hilda Solis on December 15, 2011

In-home care service is a high growth industry, and it’s projected to grow by 50 percent between 2008 and 2018. In-home caregivers are an essential component of the health care system and will only become more important, as an increased number of patients turn to them for more affordable assistance with medical care as well as everyday tasks and household chores.

Many homecare providers earn less than the minimum wage and no overtime for these vital services. In 2007, then-Senator Obama spent a day with professional homecare worker Pauline Beck, assisting with her daily tasks and observing firsthand the unique challenges of in-home care (watch the video). *Notice that the link posted on “watch the video” to the left directs you to an edited version of the SEIU video I have posted at the bottom of this post*  He was impressed by Pauline’s dedication, and determined to assist her and others in her profession.

Today, Pauline joined me and President Obama as he announced a proposal from the U.S. Department of Labor to revise the Fair Labor Standards Act rules that would ensure fair pay for approximately 1.8 million workers who provide in-home care services for the elderly and infirm. This new rule would ensure that these hardworking professionals who provide valuable services to American families would receive the protections of minimum wage and overtime pay that nearly every employee in the United States already receives under the FLSA.

Many of these workers are the primary breadwinners for their families. Of the roughly 2 million workers who will be affected by this rule, more than 92 percent are women, nearly 50 percent are minorities, and nearly 40 percent rely on public benefits such as Medicaid and food stamps. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, home health care aides earn about $21,000 a year and many lack health insurance. That is unacceptable.

The proposed regulation would also ensure that employers who have been treating these workers fairly are no longer at a competitive disadvantage. Leveling the playing field for both workers and employers is a fundamental principle of the FLSA.

My department is committed to fighting for good jobs for everyone, jobs that enable workers to earn a living wage, afford health insurance and save for retirement. The services provided by in-home health care providers aren’t just professional; they’re personal. And for millions of American families, they’re indispensible. That’s why it’s so important to ensure that they receive the same job protections available to the majority of working Americans

Once published, we encourage you to provide comments on this important proposal by visiting the federal rulemaking website at http://www.regulations.gov. More information, including the proposed rule and fact sheet, is available at http://www.dol.gov/whd/flsa/companionNPRM.htm.

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Here is the video of the “Walk a day in my shoes” from 2007 that is posted on SEIU’s YouTube channel.

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Obama announces a new rule that will ensure in-home care workers are included in the same minimum wage and overtime protections afforded to other workers under the Fair Labor Standards Act. December 15, 2011.