STATEMENT BY U.S. SECRETARY OF LABOR SCALIA ON THE SEPTEMBER JOBS REPORT

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia issued the following statement on the September 2020 Employment Situation Report:

“Today’s report shows 877,000 private-sector jobs added back in September, and an additional 145,000 jobs from July and August. However, the report reflects a seasonally-adjusted loss of 350,000 jobs in public and private education. Large gains were made in lower-wage jobs in retail and leisure and hospitality, and manufacturing added 66,000 jobs, its largest increase since June. ”

“More than half the jobs lost from the pandemic have now been restored, and the third quarter ended with a 7.9 percent unemployment rate, half the15.8 percent third quarter unemployment rate projected by the Congressional Budget Office in May.”

Remarks by Wilbur L. Ross at the Manufacturer & Business Association Roundtable in Erie, Pennsylvania

Thank you, Mark, for that kind introduction, and for hosting us here at the MBA Conference Center. And congratulations on 115 years of your company providing goods and services to the many generations of industrial firms that have benefited from your longevity. It says a lot about your company culture for it to have weathered countless downturns, big changes in technology, and the rise of global competitors. That’s quite an achievement.

Thank you also, John, for hosting us, and a special thanks to your members. Your organization is essential in helping companies connect with each other and to national networks to solve mutual problems. I know this is especially important in these challenging times.

We need more organizations like yours promoting the benefits of manufacturing and industry to the U.S. economy. Since fostering economic growth is job number-one for all of us, today is significant for American producers.

July 1 is the first day that the U.S. Mexico Canada Agreement enters into force – and this ground-breaking trade agreement couldn’t come at a better time. It fortifies the world’s largest trading block, and it provides American companies with a level playing field on our own continent for the first time since 1994. USMCA is the result of President Trump’s unwavering commitment to rebalance U.S. trade in favor of American producers and American workers. The agreement should be of particular help to Pennsylvania, the country’s tenth largest exporting state, and the backbone of our manufacturing economy.

Last year, Pennsylvania’s exports to Canada and Mexico topped $15 billion, representing 36 percent of the state’s total global exports. USMCA’s new rules of origin will help rebuild U.S. production that was outsourced to Asia, and it will go a long way to re-establishing domestic supply chains in many industrial sectors. USCMA increases North American content of vehicles to 75 percent, and it requires that up to 45 percent of the value of passenger cars be made by workers earning an average base-wage of at least $16 an hour.

Now, we finally have an agreement that levels the playing field for American workers. With the economic lockdowns required by the coronavirus pandemic, the last three-and-a-half months have not been easy for anyone.

More than 15,000 workers have been furloughed in Erie, 10 percent of whom were employed in manufacturing. Thankfully, most manufacturers have been proactive ─ and creative ─ in re-engineering production lines to protect their employees. Many have switched to producing life-saving PPE, and we are grateful for your doing so. As a result, there have been far fewer layoffs in manufacturing than in many service sectors.

We also hope the worst of the downturn is behind us. May’s job numbers were encouraging, as nearly 200,000 Pennsylvanians returned to work, with more than 25,000 of them headed back into manufacturing plants. Moreover, Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate remained below the national average.

One hopeful sign for a speedy recovery is reflected in the U.S. savings rate that has increased to 23.1 percent. Total bank deposits have jumped by $2.1 trillion during the past four months. It means that our financial institutions are sound, as compared to 2008. And as the economy opens with pent-up demand, these consumer savings will be spent in local businesses with more workers being rehired. Already, we are seeing healthy and record increases in retail sales.

Your region’s commitment to manufacturing should bode well for a strong recovery. As the one-time “Boiler and Engine Capital of the World,” Erie now supports more than 18,000 manufacturing jobs. At 17 percent of the local labor force, this is double the national average of 8.5 percent.

In the global competition for jobs and industries, Erie has many advantages, including:

• Your central location between major metropolitan areas;

• Your eight Opportunity Zones that will generate new investment in the downtown area.

• Your skilled workforce and excellent education and training institutions such as Penn State Erie, the Erie Business Center, and many others;

• The fact that you have such a diverse group of industries within your midst;

• An attractive cost of living and the availability of affordable housing;

• And an incredible setting overlooking one the world’s largest and most pristine fresh-water lakes.

• We hear there is a healthy stock of more than 100 million two-year-old walleye in Lake Erie right now ready to be caught by anglers.

You also have some great employers. Wabtec generated $2.7 billion in economic activity in Erie County alone, and the plastics industry has emerged as an economic force, with 10 percent of the nation’s plastics either manufactured or finished in Erie. I look forward to touring one of your area’s outstanding manufacturers later this morning, when we visit 91-year-old Howard Industries.

Now, I am eager to hear your ideas on how we can work together to accelerate our economic recovery, re-shore our industries, and generate thousands of great jobs for the workers of Erie and Northwestern Pennsylvania.

Thank you.

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR ISSUES INTERIM FINAL RULE TO IMPLEMENT PROVISIONS OF THE UNITED STATES-MEXICO-CANADA AGREEMENT

WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Department of Labor today announced an interim final rule providing regulations necessary to implement and administer the high-wage components of the Labor Value Content (LVC) requirements set forth in the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) and the treaty’s implementing statute. The rule provides needed guidance to producers of motor vehicles covered by the USMCA, describing criteria they must meet to qualify for preferential tariff claims under the treaty.

The LVC requirements promote more high-wage jobs for the U.S. automobile and auto parts industry by requiring that, to qualify for preferential tariff claims under the treaty, manufacturers must produce a significant portion of certain motor vehicles using high-wage labor. Among other requirements, the treaty requires that for a passenger vehicle, light truck or heavy truck to be eligible for preferential tariff treatment, a minimum percentage of the cost of the vehicle must be made at a facility that pays an average hourly base rate of at least $16 per hour.

“Through the USMCA, the United States is establishing more balanced, reciprocal trade that supports high-paying jobs for Americans and grows the North American economy,” said Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia. “The USMCA recognizes that international trade, investment and economic growth are promoted through the protection and enforcement of labor rights and the improvement of working conditions. This is a significant win for the workforce in the American auto industry, and helps level the playing field for U.S. manufacturers.”

To qualify for preferential tariff treatment, a producer must file a certification with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) demonstrating that its production of covered vehicles meets the high-wage components of the LVC requirements. WHD, in conjunction with CBP, will review those certifications.

“The Wage and Hour Division is proud to support this new law through our role in the certification and verification process,” said Wage and Hour Division Administrator Cheryl Stanton. “The interim final rule we published today ensures that manufacturers and other stakeholders understand the specific requirements and procedures for claiming preferential tariff treatment, and it provides transparency into the process.”

The interim final rule is effective July 1, 2020 and is available for review and public comment for 60 days. The Department encourages interested parties to submit comments. The interim final rule, along with the procedures for submitting comments, can be found at the Wage and Hour Division’s interim final rule website.

WHD’s mission is to promote and achieve compliance with labor standards to protect and enhance the welfare of America’s workforce. WHD enforces federal minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping and child-labor requirements of the FLSA. WHD also enforces the paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave provisions of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act, the Employee Polygraph Protection Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, wage garnishment provisions of the Consumer Credit Protection Act, and a number of employment standards and worker protections as provided in several immigration-related statutes. Additionally, WHD administers and enforces the prevailing wage requirements of the Davis-Bacon Act and the Service Contract Act and other statutes applicable to federal contracts for construction and for the provision of goods and services.

The mission of the Department of Labor is to foster, promote and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.

DOL ISSUES FINAL RULE TO SIMPLIFY RETAIL OR SERVICE ESTABLISHMENT EXEMPTION

WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Department of Labor today announced a final rule to provide greater simplicity and flexibility to retail industry employers.

Provisions in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) allow employers in retail and service industries to exempt certain employees paid primarily on a commission basis from overtime.

Today’s rule withdraws two provisions from the Department’s Wage and Hour Division regulations. The first listed industries that the Department previously viewed as having “no retail concept,” which made them ineligible to claim the exemption. The second listed industries that, in the Department’s view, “may be recognized as retail,” and were potentially eligible for the exemption. As the rule explains, some courts have questioned whether these lists lack any rational basis.

By withdrawing these two lists, establishments in industries that had been on the non-retail list may now assert that they have a retail concept and—if they meet the existing definition of retail and other criteria—may now qualify for the exemption. Insofar as these establishments were deterred from availing themselves of the exemption and its flexibilities, they may now do so if they qualify—including by having more flexibility to work with workers on commission-based pay arrangements. For these employers and workers, they could consider whether, for instance, more commission-based pay is sensible.

Establishments in industries that were on the “may be” retail list may continue to assert they have a retail concept.

Moving forward, the Department will apply the same analysis to all establishments to determine whether they have a retail concept and qualify as retail or service establishments, promoting greater simplicity and flexibility for employers and workers alike.

“This final rule unshackles job creators in the retail space who had previously been categorically excluded from the exemption without notice and comment,” said Wage and Hour Division Administrator Cheryl Stanton. “Permitting all retail employers to potentially qualify for this exemption can increase flexibility for businesses and workers. Eliminating confusion empowers job creators to grow their businesses, comply with the law and provide even more good jobs for American workers.”

The Department is issuing this rule without notice and comment, and it will take immediate effect. Neither notice and comment nor a delayed effective date are needed because both lists being withdrawn were interpretive regulations originally issued in 1961 without notice and comment or a delay.

BLS publishes statistics on workers’ injuries and illnesses in 2018

There were 900,380 nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses in the private sector in 2018 in which the injured or ill worker took a least one day away from work to recuperate. This was essentially the same number reported for 2017. The incidence rate remained unchanged in 2018 at 89.7 cases per 10,000 full-time workers. In 2018, the median days away from work to recuperate was 8 days, the same as reported in 2017.

Workers in transportation and material moving occupations experienced 184,470 injuries and illnesses in 2018 that resulted in days away from work. That was 20 percent of all the cases that resulted in days away from work. The incidence rate for transportation and material moving workers was 193.7 cases per 10,000 full-time workers. These workers took a median of 13 days away from work to recuperate from their injuries and illnesses.

Building and grounds cleaning and maintenance workers had 54,400 injuries and illness in 2018 that resulted in days away from work. The incidence rate for these workers was 166.0 cases per 10,000 full-time workers. They took a median of 7 days away from work to recuperate from their injuries and illnesses.

These data are from the Injuries, Illnesses, and Fatalities program.

SUGGESTED CITATION

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Transportation and material moving workers experienced 184,470 injuries and illnesses in 2018 on the BLS website (visited December 07, 2019).

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR INVESTIGATION RESULTS IN MINNESOTA FOUNDRY PAYING ENGINEER $190,357 FOR H-1B VISA VIOLATIONS

MINNEAPOLIS, MN

The H-1B visa program permits American employers to employ nonimmigrants to work temporarily in specialized occupations in the U.S. when they cannot otherwise obtain needed business skills and abilities from the U.S. workforce.

The ARB and an administrative law judge upheld WHD’s findings that ME Global Inc.

ME Global Inc. also failed to maintain documentation required by the LCA such as documentation of the prevailing wage, scope of work, and method used for determining wages rates and failed to post information about the LCA in employment locations.

The law establishes certain standards in order to protect similarly employed U.S. workers from being affected adversely by the employment of the nonimmigrant workers, as well as to protect the H-1B nonimmigrant workers.

For more information about wage laws enforced by WHD, contact the Division’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (

WHD’s mission is to promote and achieve compliance with labor standards to protect and enhance the welfare of the Nation’s workforce.

The mission of the Department of Labor is to foster, promote, and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers, and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.