[House Hearing, 112 Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]
POLICIES AND PRIORITIES AT THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION
AND THE WORKFORCE
U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED TWELFTH CONGRESS
HEARING HELD IN WASHINGTON, DC, FEBRUARY 16, 2011
Serial No. 112-6
Printed for the use of the Committee on Education and the Workforce
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COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION AND THE WORKFORCE
JOHN KLINE, Minnesota, Chairman
Thomas E. Petri, Wisconsin George Miller, California,
Howard P. ``Buck'' McKeon, Senior Democratic Member
California Dale E. Kildee, Michigan
Judy Biggert, Illinois Donald M. Payne, New Jersey
Todd Russell Platts, Pennsylvania Robert E. Andrews, New Jersey
Joe Wilson, South Carolina Robert C. ``Bobby'' Scott,
Virginia Foxx, North Carolina Virginia
Duncan Hunter, California Lynn C. Woolsey, California
David P. Roe, Tennessee Ruben Hinojosa, Texas
Glenn Thompson, Pennsylvania Carolyn McCarthy, New York
Tim Walberg, Michigan John F. Tierney, Massachusetts
Scott DesJarlais, Tennessee Dennis J. Kucinich, Ohio
Richard L. Hanna, New York David Wu, Oregon
Todd Rokita, Indiana Rush D. Holt, New Jersey
Larry Bucshon, Indiana Susan A. Davis, California
Trey Gowdy, South Carolina Raul M. Grijalva, Arizona
Lou Barletta, Pennsylvania Timothy H. Bishop, New York
Kristi L. Noem, South Dakota David Loebsack, Iowa
Martha Roby, Alabama Mazie K. Hirono, Hawaii
Joseph J. Heck, Nevada
Dennis A. Ross, Florida
Mike Kelly, Pennsylvania
Barrett Karr, Staff Director
Jody Calemine, Minority Staff Director
C O N T E N T S
Hearing held on February 16, 2011................................ 1
Statement of Members:
Barletta, Hon. Lou, a Representative in Congress from the
State of Pennsylvania, question submitted for the record... 14
Kline, Hon. John, Chairman, Committee on Education and the
Prepared statement of.................................... 3
Questions submitted for the record....................... 8
McCarthy, Hon. Carolyn, a Representative in Congress from the
State of New York, questions submitted for the record...... 14
Miller, Hon. George, senior Democratic member, Committee on
Education and the Workforce................................ 4
Prepared statement of.................................... 6
Rokita, Hon. Todd, a Representative in Congress from the
State of Indiana, question submitted for the record........ 14
Statement of Witnesses:
Solis, Hon. Hilda L., Secretary, U.S. Department of Labor.... 15
Prepared statement of.................................... 19
Responses to questions submitted and additional materials
Responses to questions............................... 71
``Project Labor Agreements,'' 2007, Internet address
``Labor Analysis and Report on Feasibility for a
Project Labor Agreement on the I-287/Cross
Westchester Expressway Project,'' June 17, 1999.... 111
``Labor Analysis and Report on Feasibility for a
Project Labor Agreement Covering Construction and
Renovation of the Jacob K. Javits Convention
Center,'' April 2007............................... 152
``Workforce Investment Act Formula Obligations
Program Year 2009,'' July 1, 2009-June 30, 2010.... 183
``Workforce Investment Act Formula Spending Program
Year 2009,'' July 1, 2009-June 30, 2010............ 193
POLICIES AND PRIORITIES AT THE
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
U.S. House of Representatives
Committee on Education and the Workforce
The committee met, pursuant to call, at 10:03 a.m., in room
2175, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. John Kline [chairman
of the committee] presiding.
Present: Representatives Kline, Petri, Biggert, Platts,
Foxx, Roe, Thompson, Walberg, DesJarlais, Rokita, Bucshon,
Noem, Ross, Kelly, Miller, Kildee, Payne, Andrews, Woolsey,
Hinojosa, McCarthy, Tierney, Holt, and Davis.
Staff Present: James Bergeron, Director of Education and
Human Services Policy; Kirk Boyle, General Counsel; Casey
Buboltz, Coalitions and Member Services Coordinator; Ed Gilroy,
Director of Workforce Policy; Marvin Kaplan, Professional Staff
Member; Barrett Karr, Staff Director; Ryan Kearney, Legislative
Assistant; Brian Newell, Press Secretary; Molly McLaughlin
Salmi, Deputy Director of Workforce Policy; Ken Serafin,
Workforce Policy Counsel; Linda Stevens, Chief Clerk/Assistant
to the General Counsel; Loren Sweatt, Professional Staff
Member; Joseph Wheeler, Professional Staff Member; Aaron
Albright, Minority Deputy Communications Director; Tylease
Alli, Minority Hearing Clerk; Daniel Brown, Minority Staff
Assistant; Jody Calemine, Minority Staff Director; Brian Levin,
Minority New Media Press Assistant; Jerrica Mathis, Minority
Legislative Fellow; Celine McNicholas, Minority Labor Counsel;
Richard Miller, Minority Senior Labor Policy Advisor; Megan
O'Reilly, Minority General Counsel; Julie Peller, Minority
Deputy Staff Director; Meredith Regine, Minority Policy
Associate, Labor; and Michele Varnhagen, Minority Chief Policy
Advisor and Labor Policy Director.
Chairman Kline. A quorum being present, the committee will
come to order.
Allow me to begin today's hearing by welcoming Secretary
Solis to the committee.
Madam Secretary, we are thrilled to have you back. You are
no stranger to this committee. We want to be very respectful of
your time and try to keep it moving along here. Many of us had
the pleasure and honor of serving with you when you were our
colleague. We are glad to see you back here today as the
The Department of Labor is an agency whose size and mission
have expanded dramatically in recent years. Today it
administers more than 180 Federal laws, affecting 10 million
employers and 125 million workers. The Department's policies
are present in virtually every American workplace, and it has a
duty to ensure those policies represent the best interests of
both workers and employers.
Many of the challenges the country faced 1 year ago are
still at the forefront of our economic concerns today. Getting
the economy moving and the American people back to work remain
pressing national priorities. Clearly, we have a lot of work to
Nearly 14 million workers are unemployed. The
administration had promised that the $814 billion stimulus bill
would keep unemployment below 8 percent. The Department of
Labor received almost $5 billion in the so-called stimulus
funds; yet, for 21 consecutive months, the national
unemployment rate has been at or above 9 percent. Nearly a
million individuals have become so discouraged with their
search for work they have abandoned the workforce entirely--a
number that has shown little improvement since the Secretary
was last before this committee.
Two years of pouring taxpayer money into the economy has
produced these results. Madam Secretary, we believe this is
Recently, President Obama issued an Executive order that
requires a comprehensive review of the rules and regulations on
the books and their consequences for economic growth. It comes
not a moment too soon. We are willing and eager partners in
that effort. Promoting job creation and American
competitiveness will be a leading priority for this committee.
I believe that is what the American people sent us here to do.
As we look for ways to encourage investment and hiring, we
are mindful that our workplaces require certainty. Workers and
their employers need simple and fair rules of the road that
promote health, safety, and accountability. They do not need a
bureaucracy that continues to grow in size and complexity and
that stifles the freedom and innovation our economy desperately
needs to grow and prosper.
That is why your presence here today, Madam Secretary, is
extremely important. Over the last 2 years, we have seen the
administration adopt a number of workforce policies that I
believe threaten job creation and economic opportunity.
Initiatives such as project labor agreements and ``high road''
contracting are clearly designed to favor big labor at the
expense of small businesses.
The President recently wrote in the Wall Street Journal
that, quote, ``Small firms drive growth and create most jobs in
this country. We need to make sure nothing stands in their
way,'' close quote. Yet the administration continues to pursue
policies that disadvantage small businesses and their ability
to create new jobs.
The administration has also rolled back commonsense
disclosure requirements that allow workers to understand how
their union dues are being spent, denied workers access to
high-quality investment advice regarding their 401(k) plans,
and adopted an approach to workplace safety that focuses on
punishing employers rather than promoting prevention.
I question how these changes improve the competitiveness of
our workforce. These policies are not new policies, and neither
are our concerns. I raise them again in light of President's
recent Executive order and with the hope the Department will
take a second look at these and similar policies that hinder
As I noted earlier, this committee intends to be a partner
in the effort to find and remove roadblocks to job creation,
and I can assure you we will do our part.
I am also interested to hear in more detail your
Department's budget priorities for the next fiscal year. I can
assure you a number of my colleagues have questions, as well.
You are aware, as we all are, of the fiscal crisis we face as a
nation. Every dollar spent at the Federal level must be
accounted for and justified before it is spent. I look forward
to learning more about the way in which you intend to spend
taxpayer resources in the months ahead.
We have a lot of ground to cover in just a few short hours,
Madam Secretary, and so I will turn now to my colleague, George
Miller, the senior Democratic member of the committee, for his
[The statement of Chairman Kline follows:]
Prepared Statement of Hon. John Kline, Chairman,
Committee on Education and the Workforce
Allow me to begin today's hearing by welcoming Secretary Solis to
the committee. The secretary isn't a stranger to Congress or this
Committee. I appreciate the time you have taken to be with us today and
look forward to your testimony.
The Department of Labor is an agency whose size and mission have
expanded dramatically in recent years. Today, it administers more than
180 federal laws affecting 10 million employers and 125 million
workers. The department's policies are present in virtually every
American workplace, and it has a duty to ensure those policies
represent the best interests of both workers and employers.
Many of the challenges the country faced one year ago are still at
the forefront of our economic concerns today. Getting the economy
moving and the American people back to work remain pressing national
priorities. Clearly, we have a lot of work to do.
Today nearly 14 million workers are unemployed. The administration
promised that an $814 billion stimulus bill would keep unemployment
below 8 percent. The Department of Labor received almost $5 billion in
these so-called stimulus funds. Yet for 21 consecutive months the
national unemployment rate has been at or above 9 percent. Nearly one
million individuals have become so discouraged with their search for
work, they have abandoned the workforce entirely--a number that has
shown little improvement since the secretary was last before this
committee. Two years of pouring taxpayer money into the economy has
produced these results. Madam Secretary, this is unacceptable.
Recently, President Obama issued an executive order that requires a
comprehensive review of the rules and regulations on the books and
their consequences for economic growth. It comes not a moment too soon.
We are willing and eager partners in that effort. Promoting job
creation and American competitiveness will be a leading priority for
this committee. I believe that is what the American people sent us here
As we look for ways to encourage investment and hiring, we are
mindful that our workplaces require certainty. Workers and their
employers need simple and fair rules of the road that promote health,
safety, and accountability; they do not need a bureaucracy that
continues to grow in size and complexity and stifles the freedom and
innovation our economy desperately needs to grow and prosper.
That is why your presence here today, Madam Secretary, is extremely
important. Over the last two years we have seen the administration
adopt a number of workforce policies that threaten job creation and
Initiatives such as project labor agreements and high road
contracting are clearly designed to favor Big Labor at the expense of
small businesses. The president recently wrote in the Wall Street
Journal that ``Small firms drive growth and create most new jobs in
this country. We need to make sure nothing stands in their way.'' Yet
the administration continues to pursue policies that disadvantage small
businesses and their ability to create new jobs.
The administration has also rolled back commonsense disclosure
requirements that allow workers to understand how their union dues are
being spent; denied workers' access to high-quality investment advice
regarding their 401(k) plans; and adopted an approach to workplace
safety that focuses on punishing employers rather than promoting
prevention. I question how these changes improve the competitiveness of
These policies are not new policies and neither are our concerns. I
raise them again in light of the president's recent executive order and
with the hope the department will take a second look at these and
similar policies that hinder economic growth. As I noted earlier, this
committee intends to be a partner in the effort to find and remove
roadblocks to job creation, and I can assure you, we will do our part.
I am also interested to hear in more detail your department's
budget priorities for the next fiscal year. I can assure you a number
of my colleagues have questions as well. You are aware, as we all are,
of the fiscal crisis we face as a nation. Every dollar spent at the
federal level must be accounted for and justified before it is spent. I
look forward to learning more about the way in which you intend to
spend taxpayer resources in the months ahead.
We have a lot of ground to cover in just a few short hours, Madam
Secretary. And so I will now turn to my colleague George Miller, the
senior Democratic member of the committee, for his opening remarks.
Mr. Miller. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And thank you for
holding this hearing.
And we welcome the Secretary back to the committee and to
the Congress. Secretary Solis appeared a year ago to discuss
the strengthening of the economy and improving the lives of
American workers. We agreed that our most important priority
was to get America back to work, jobs that pay fair wages, jobs
that are safe.
Madam Secretary, you have made great progress in this area.
In particular, I applaud your efforts to make sure that our
Nation's workforce is more responsive to the local economic
conditions so that workers can be trained and find new jobs.
And when Americans go to work, they should be paid fairly
and according to the law. On this front, the Department has
played a critical role in securing over $300 million in unpaid
wages to workers. When you came to this office, the Department
of Labor was lying to those workers. They were telling them
that those businesses went out of business, that those
businesses had moved, that those businesses had gone bankrupt.
All of those were lies, and those workers didn't get the money
for the hours that they worked. This is a big change, and thank
you so much for securing the fairness in the workplace for
I am very pleased that the Department has moved quickly to
respond to the Upper Big Branch mine explosion and other
workplace tragedies. Workers are safer on the job, and
unscrupulous employers are held more accountable for putting
their employees in danger.
However, all of this progress is now threatened. The House
is now debating the Republican spending bill that will reverse
this course. Too many Americans are still struggling with the
fallout of the worst financial crisis in more than a half a
century. That is why job creation and repairing our economy
must remain at the top of the agenda.
Central to this mission are millions of American workers
and local businesses that utilize the Workforce Investment Act
employment and training services each year. Unfortunately, the
Republican spending bill eliminates these vital services all
across the country.
In fact, starting in April, if these cuts pass, every one
of the 3,000 One-Stop centers will be closed. It will be closed
to employers, it will be closed to the community colleges, it
will be closed to workers, it will be closed to their families.
Millions of Americans looking for training and looking jobs,
inquiring about the benefits, will be locked out of those
centers, will be locked out of that opportunity. This at a time
when fewer Americans are being recalled to the job they had
before than in any other recession in this country's history.
These workers, their families need the training
opportunities, the retraining opportunities, so that they can
be employed in their local community. Local workforce boards
made up of businesses, community colleges, and other leaders
will be unable to respond to the local employment conditions.
In light of the chairman's previous statements in support of
this important program, I hope he would agree that totally
eviscerating WIA is shortsighted and unwise.
Finally, when Americans go to work, their jobs should be
safe. Unfortunately, the Republican spending bill would slash
worker health and safety.
Last April, 29 coal miners never returned to their families
from their shift deep in the West Virginia mountain. In the
wake of this tragedy, this committee learned the lengths that
some mine owners, like Massey Energy, would go to to avoid
improving chronic safety problems, including criminal behavior
by them and their employees.
Once we learned the extent of this gaming of the system, we
ensured that the Department of Labor had sufficient resources
to stop them. The spending plan on the floor today would once
again allow mine owners to game the system, to create a
backlog, and to avoid the responsibilities of the law to keep
their workers safe, putting those lives at risk.
This tragedy and other workplace disasters are a reminder
that the action or inaction of Congress or the regulatory
agencies can directly affect the lives and the health of our
citizens. That is why the Republican plan to slash the
Occupational Health and Safety Administration is so chilling.
Madam Secretary, under the Republican plan, OSHA will have
very few options when making significant cuts to worker health
and safety. There would be thousands of fewer workplace hazard
inspections. OSHA would be cut to 1974 staffing levels. 1974--a
great year, the year I entered Congress--we would go back to
those staffing levels, although there are almost 65 percent
more workers in this country than there were then.
There will not be enough investigators to conduct the
fatality and accident investigations needed. And the funding of
OSHA's Web site would be zeroed out. A Web site that provides
employers the access to guidances, to compliances, to
enforcement and information that they rely on every day--every
day--would go dark.
Workers are not cogs in a wheel. They are fathers, mothers,
sons, and daughters. They deserve basic health and safety
We have seen what happens when you rely on self-
certification, voluntary compliance, and inadequate
protections: Upper Big Branch mine explosions happen; the
Deepwater Horizon, from the rogue safety company of British
Petroleum; the Texas City explosion, of British Petroleum; the
Imperial Sugar explosions that caused these sons, daughters,
husbands, wives their lives.
By statute, the Department of Labor is tasked to, quote,
``foster, promote, and develop the welfare of wage earners in
the United States to improve their working conditions and to
advance their opportunities for profitable employment.'' For
too long, that mission was forgotten. But you have made
progress, Madam Secretary, in restoring the mission in the last
2 years. Unfortunately, the Republican spending bill will turn
this progress on its head.
No one is in favor of wasteful spending. No one is in favor
of special interest loopholes or the outdated government
regulations that don't work. None of that is favored by anyone
on this committee. But instead of identifying real government
waste, like subsidies to big oil or tax cuts to billionaires,
the Republicans have decided that all of the spending cuts will
fall on middle Americans and their families, their time at the
workplace and their time seeking in education and training.
That is not a recipe for success of this economy in the
future globalized world. Our workers and our safety and our
Nation's economic competitiveness can ill-afford these unwise
And I yield back the balance of my time.
[The statement of Mr. Miller follows:]
Prepared Statement of Hon. George Miller, Senior Democratic Member,
Committee on Education and the Workforce
Good morning. I would like to welcome back our former colleague
Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis to the committee.
Secretary Solis appeared a year ago to discuss strengthening the
economy and improving the lives of American workers. We a agreed that
our most important priority was to get America back to work. Jobs that
pay fair wages. Jobs that are safe. Madame Secretary, you have made
great progress in these areas.
In particular, I applaud your efforts to make our nation's
workforce programs more responsive to local economic conditions so that
workers can be trained and find new jobs.
And, when Americans go to work, they should be paid fairly and
according to the law. On this front, the department has played a
critical role having secured $313 million in unpaid wages for workers.
I am also pleased that the department has moved quickly to respond
to the Upper Big Branch mine explosion and other workplace tragedies.
Workers are safer on the job and unscrupulous employers are held more
accountable for putting their employees in danger.
However, all of this progress is threatened. The House is now
debating a Republican spending bill that will reverse this course. Too
many Americans are still struggling with the fallout of the worst
financial crisis in more than a half a century. That's why job creation
and repairing our economy must remain at the top of our agenda.
Central to this mission are the millions of workers and local
businesses that utilize Workforce Investment Act employment and
training services each year. Unfortunately, the Republican spending
bill would effectively e eliminate these vital services all across the
In fact, starting in April, if these cuts pass, every one of the
3,000 One-Stop career centers will begin to close. Millions of
Americans looking for training, looking for jobs, or inquiring about
benefits would be locked out. Local workforce boards made up of
businesses, community colleges and others leaders will be unable to
respond to local employment conditions.
In light of the chairman's previous statements in support for this
important program, I hope he would agree that totally eviscerating WIA
is short-sighted and unwise.
Finally, when Americans go to work, their jobs should be safe.
Unfortunately, the Republican spending bill would slash worker health
Last April, 29 coal miners never returned home to their families
after their shift deep in a West Virginia mountain.
In the wake of this tragedy, this committee learned of the lengths
that some mine owners like Massey Energy would go to avoid improving
chronic safety problems. Once we learned the extent of this gaming of
the system, we ensured that the Department of Labor has sufficient
resources to stop them.
The spending plan on the floor today would once again allow mine
owners to game the system and put miners' lives at risk.
This tragedy and other workplace disasters are a reminder that the
action or inaction of Congress or the regulatory agencies can directly
affect the lives and health of our citizens. That's why the Republican
plan to slash the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is so
Madame Secretary, OSHA will have very few options other than making
significant cuts to worker health and safety. There would be thousands
fewer workplace hazard inspections. OSHA would be cut to 1974 staffing
levels, even though there are 65 percent more private sector workers
today as there were in 1974. There will not be enough investigators to
conduct the fatality and accident investigations needed. And, funding
for OSHA's website would even be zeroed out.
Workers are not cogs in the wheel. They are fathers, mothers, sons,
and daughters. They deserve basic health and safety protections.
We've seen what happens when you rely on self-certification,
voluntary compliance and inadequate protections. Upper Big Branch
happens. Deepwater Horizon happens. Imperial Sugar happens.
By statute, the Department of Labor is tasked to ``foster, promote,
and develop the welfare of the wage earners of the United States, to
improve their working conditions, and to advance their opportunities
for profitable employment.'' For too long, that mission was forgotten.
But you have made progress in restoring that mission in the last
two years. Unfortunately, the Republican spending bill will turn this
progress on its head.
No one is in favor of wasteful spending or outdated government
regulations that don't work. Instead of identifying real government
waste--like subsidies for big oil or tax cuts to billionaires--House
Republicans have decided to cut on the backs of working people and
Our workers' safety and our nation's economic competitiveness can
ill afford these unwise cuts.
I yield back.
Chairman Kline. I thank the gentleman.
I am sorry here. Let me get back on track.
Pursuant to committee rule 7(c), all Members will be
permitted to submit written statements to be included in the
permanent hearing record. And, without objection, the hearing
record will remain 14 days to allow questions for the record,
statements, and extraneous material referenced during the
hearing to be submitted for the official hearing record.
[The information follows:]
Questions Submitted by Hon. Carolyn McCarthy, a Representative in
Congress From the State of New York
1. I think the Department of Labor has done a great job on a
variety of fronts, and I commend you for your commitment to American
Today's worker is much different than the worker of past. There are
different workplace demographics and different expectations for both
employers and employees. There are surveys out there that conclude that
women are now nearly 50% of the U.S. workforce, yet still barriers
exist for them. One of the issues I have been most active on is
breastfeeding, and what concerns me is the lack of federal attention to
Last Congress, I introduced a bill, the Exemplary Breastfeeding
Support Act which would have helped to implement programs in support of
breastfeeding. I was pleased that the healthcare reform law includes
language requiring employers to provide reasonable break times and
private space for nursing mothers on the job.
Can you tell us a little bit about the implementation of this
provision and its importance to fostering a fair and equal workplace?
2. I wanted to reiterate the concern my colleague Rep. Biggert had
brought to your attention regarding your Department's proposed rule
expanding the definition of a fiduciary. As you mentioned, ERISA law
has not been looked at in more than 30 years, and I do not deny that
the Department of Labor should look into the law and its merits.
However, as a member who both sits on this Committee as well as
Financial Services, I implore you to work with your counterparts at the
SEC and CFTC who have made proposals in this realm as result of the
passage of Dodd-Frank last Congress. I firmly believe that ambiguity in
this sector and a lack of dialogue will ultimately hurt consumers, so
please keep me briefed as to your conversations with your counterparts,
and I look forward to working with you on the issue.
Chairman Kline. It is now my pleasure to introduce our
distinguished witness, who really needs no introduction.
Secretary Solis was confirmed as the Secretary of Labor on
February 24th, 2009.
You were one of the very first in the new administration.
Prior to her confirmation, Secretary Solis served as a
Member of Congress, and we were proud to have her as a
colleague. She represented the 32nd District in California from
2001 to 2009. She is a graduate of California State Polytechnic
University and got her master of public administration from the
University of Southern California.
Madam Secretary, welcome back. You know the light situation
here. I will confess to you up front that I am not going to pay
much attention to the light for your testimony. We want to hear
everything that you have to say.
I will, though, for the benefit of my colleagues, say that
I will be paying attention to the lights as we get into our
question-and-answer, and I will probably have to remind you at
But we are pleased to have you here. And the floor is
yours, Madam Secretary.
STATEMENT OF THE HON. HILDA L. SOLIS, SECRETARY,
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
Secretary Solis. Thank you very much, Chairman Kline and
Ranking Member Miller and members of this committee. I want to
thank you for inviting me to come testify before you today.
And, yes, it is a delight to be back here amongst former
colleagues and to be in this committee room where, when I began
my work here in the Congress, this was the committee that I
served on. And much has changed since then.
But I know that oftentimes we may agree and agree to
disagree on issues. So I hope that, with that hope in mind,
that we will continue to work on those issues that the American
public wants us to focus in on, and that is the economic
recovery and providing better opportunities for all of our
working families here in America.
Let's just remember how deep and devastating the recession
was when President Obama took office. That was about the time
when I took over the reins at the Department of Labor. There
were more than 4.4 million jobs that had already been lost
since the start of this recession. We saw job losses in almost
every sector of our economy, but especially in manufacturing,
which lost about 1.2 million jobs.
We are getting our economy back on track with 11--11--
straight months of private-sector job growth, adding 1.1
million private-sector jobs last year alone, in 2010. In
addition, we are encouraged by the job growth we are seeing in
our Survey of Households, including self-employment and hiring
by new startup businesses.
Just this last month, I reported that nearly 600,000 more
Americans were employed compared to the previous month, causing
the unemployment rate to fall from 9.4 percent to 9 percent.
But we still, as you know, have a long way to go. That is not
an acceptable rate.
I know the House will consider a fiscal year 2011
continuing resolution this week. We look forward to working
with Congress to cut spending and to cut the deficit. But to
win the future, we cannot cut in a way that will undermine our
ability to out-educate, out-innovate, and out-build our
economic competitors. And many of the proposed cuts would do
The budget of the President, announced on Monday, is a
responsible plan that shows how we can live within our means,
just like a household, and invest in the future. It makes tough
choices to cut spending and to cut the deficit, and puts us
back on a path to fiscal sustainability.
At the Department of Labor, we are working to get Americans
back to work by providing job seekers the skills necessary to
land the good-paying jobs for the future, especially in those
high-growth sectors like health care, IT, and clean energy.
The health-care sector alone has added an average of about
22,000 jobs per month over the last year. And the Bureau of
Labor Statistics projects that health-care jobs will experience
the largest job growth of any industry over the next decade.
Even in the manufacturing sector, as you can tell, that is
also coming back. And all you have to do is point to the
automobile industry. Just last month, our economy added 49,000
manufacturing jobs, with 20,000 of those jobs exclusively in
the automobile industry.
I have seen this revitalization myself. In fact, last week,
I visited the GM Hamtramck plant in Detroit that makes the
Chevy Volt, and the Chrysler-Jeep assembly plant in Toledo,
Ohio. I spoke to several autoworkers and management who take
great pride in assembling this innovative, fuel-efficient
vehicle. I saw amazing results of the administration's
investment in the automobile industry.
DOL's investments are making a difference in workers' lives
to train them for the 21st century. In Florida, we invested in
training a construction worker who needed renewable energy
skills to be competitive. With the DOL-funded program, he now
has an industry-recognized solar photovoltaic degree and better
In Minnesota, we linked Jay Booker, a Job Corps student who
earned a technology skills degree at Humphrey Job Corps Center,
with a job at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport, where he has
now a bright future in the transportation industry. I believe
Jay was able to come here to visit us today and is here at our
Do you want to be recognized?
I believe he is your constituent, Chairman Kline.
Secretary Solis. In addition, as you can tell from the
white jackets in back of me, there are also a number of
students from our local Job Corps, the Woodland Job Corps
Center, who are visiting us today.
On-the-job training programs actually let workers earn
while they learn. You can imagine a more direct link between
training and job that is a model that we know works.
Our National Emergency Grant, something that I believe some
of the Members here know of, provide a rapid response to your
constituents in a large-scale manner, especially when there is
job loss, a big plant closure or mass layoff, or even a natural
In Fremont, California, our $19 million went in a NEG to
the NUMMI plant through the National Emergency Grant program,
which helped to provide assistance to over 4,000 autoworkers.
They were provided with training and re-employment services
that they desperately needed to look into new careers.
Our Trade Adjustment Assistance program provides similar
help for trade-impacted workers. It is vital that Congress take
action to extend the TAA extension, which helped thousands--
tens of thousands of workers. When I was in Michigan and Ohio
just last week, I heard firsthand what an essential lifeline
the TAA program is.
Our job-training programs are essential to winning the
future for our country. We must have a workforce that is
trained to meet the needs for employers. That is why
reauthorizing the Workforce Investment Act, know as WIA, is
such a high priority. We know that the current system isn't
perfect, but it serves many different populations with good,
targeted programs. Reauthorization will present, I believe, an
opportunity to promote innovation, build on strengths, and
At DOL, we not only train workers to get new and better
jobs, but we protect them once they are on that job. We ensure
that workers are paid wages and overtime that they earned.
During the past 2 years, Wage and Hour recouped nearly $400
million in back wages in over 52,000 cases that impacted nearly
This is not just good for workers, but it is also good for
business. In this difficult economy, no employer can afford to
compete against a company that cuts corners or breaks the law.
For example, all poultry processors are supposed to pay
workers for the time spent putting on and taking off their
protective gear. We learned, however, that the biggest
companies in the industry, like Pilgrim's Pride and Tyson
Foods, were not living up to their responsibility. It is not
fair to ask a small poultry processor to do what the big guys
wouldn't do. That is why I am proud that the Wage and Hour
division's successful settlement of cases came to a conclusion
with Pilgrim's Pride and Tyson.
We all agree that every job in America should be a safe
job. We are partnering with employers to provide compliance
assistance and to ensure that they have the tools and
incentives necessary to make good health and safety decisions.
In 2010, more than 26,000 small- and medium-sized
businesses that employed more than 1.5 million workers received
assistance from OSHA's On-Site Consultation Program free of
charge. We are also enhancing our dialogue with small business
about the impact of OSHA regulations. And we are continuing our
dialogue with all businesses. That is why my fiscal year 2012
budget funds OSHA's Voluntary Protection Program to continue
that program's important mission.
While we work with the business community to keep
workplaces safe and minimize the regulatory burden, we will
continue to aggressively enforce our safety and health laws
against those employers who refuse to play by the rules and put
workers at risk.
One dangerous industry where we have focused our resources
happens to be in the construction industry. We had more
fatalities in that industry than any other in the private
sector in 2009. Last year, we held an OSHA National Action
Summit conference in Houston to discuss what more we can do to
prevent vulnerable workers and especially construction workers
But too many employers in the construction industry still
don't get it, like C.A. Franc Construction Company in
Washington, Pennsylvania. This roofing contractor refused to
take steps to protect its workers from falls. In 2010, Carl
Beck, a 29-year-old employee with two children, fell to his
death when his employer denied him the safety equipment he
OSHA cited these egregious violations, which will deter
other similar violations and level the playing field. Other
roofing contractors who provide fall protection for their
workers shouldn't have to compete against unscrupulous
employers who don't play by the rules.
This past year, at the Mine Safety and Health
Administration, known as MSHA, we have done some extraordinary
things there. And I am immensely proud of what they have been
able to respond to. MSHA is using every tool at its disposal to
reform the behavior of repeat violators.
Since April, MSHA has conducted more than 200 impact
inspections across the country. These impact inspections, which
began in force last April following the explosion at the Upper
Big Branch mine in West Virginia, involves mines that merit
increased agency attention and enforcement due to their poor
compliance with our vital mine safety and health laws.
MSHA also, for the first time in its history, sought a
Federal court injunction to protect miners. The law makes it
very difficult to get an injunction, but we thought this
extraordinary remedy was necessary to protect miners from the
egregious conditions at the Freedom Energy Mine located in
MSHA is also upgrading its regulations strategically to
implement what we have already learned from the Upper Big
Branch disaster. MSHA issued an emergency standard on rock
dusting and proposed revamping the pattern-of-violation
MSHA will continue these efforts, but we need to do more to
reform the behavior of the worst of the worst in the mining
industry. We don't need to wait for the report from the Upper
Big Branch investigation to know that we need new mine-safety
legislation as soon as possible. In fact, long before the
report on the Sago disaster, President Bush signed the MINER
Act into law. And I hope we can work together on a new mine-
And in order to fulfill our mission at DOL, it is critical
that we have a strong working relationship with the business
community. The business community creates the jobs, not DOL,
not the Federal Government. We need to strengthen our economy,
and we have to know that we can provide workers with the skills
that they need for these new jobs.
Just last week, I had a few meetings with business leaders
that illustrate our effort to work with the business community.
I met with Jim McNerney, the CEO of Boeing. We have a strong
partnership with him, and discussed ways to improve our
training programs to better serve their needs, including having
company personnel help create curriculum for training programs
and teach some of those courses. I also met with 25 members of
the American Sustainable Business Council, and they agreed to
work with us, with our One-Stop system, in their hiring
In addition, our veterans employment administration has
forged relationships with the National Chamber of Commerce, as
well as small regional chambers. We are working with them to,
quote/unquote, ``hire a vet.'' It is an initiative to help our
veterans and transitioning service members to find good jobs.
These are but a few of many examples that we are working on
cooperatively with the business community.
We at the Department of Labor do our best every day to
create economic opportunities for employers and working
families. And I hope I have shown you that we are making a
difference in the lives of many of your constituents and
workers throughout this country. I look forward to working with
you to ensure that we have good jobs and safe jobs for
[The statement of Secretary Solis follows:]
Prepared Statement of Hon. Hilda L. Solis, Secretary,
U.S. Department of Labor
Chairman Kline, Ranking Member Miller, and Members of the
Committee, thank you for inviting me to testify. It is wonderful to be
back among my friends and former colleagues. I am also so glad to have
the opportunity to speak with the many new members of the Committee. We
have a lot in common. I too once was a freshman member of Congress on
this Committee. I sat where you now sit so I can empathize with the
need to quickly get up to speed on the vast jurisdiction of this
Committee--including the many programs and services that the Department
of Labor provides for your constituents. I look forward to all of the
hard and good work we will do together to help working families across
I hope you know that my offer to work with you is genuine. Since I
came before this Committee last year, much has changed here in
Washington and in the nation. What has not changed is the desire the
American people have for us to work together to address the many
challenges facing our nation's working families. Undoubtedly, we will
not agree on every issue. But I hope we can agree on many and that we
can also agree on the end goal--to continue to help bring our country
out of the recession with a stronger economy and better opportunities
for all working Americans. Only if we make a commitment to this shared
goal and pool our energies towards achieving it do we have any hope of
success, because the challenges that remain for American workers are
I am happy to report that we have already taken some important, and
big, first steps towards addressing these challenges, including
returning many Americans to the workforce.
But we cannot build a solid foundation for the future while
ignoring the millions of Americans who are still out of work. We have
to start where we are.
Our economy has clearly made significant progress toward recovery
over the last year. Let us remember just how deep and devastating the
recession was when President Obama took office. By January end of 2009,
4.4 million jobs had been lost since the start of the recession in
December 2007. We saw job losses in almost every sector of the economy,
but especially in the manufacturing sector, which lost 1.2 million jobs
between the beginning of the recession and the time President Obama
took office. Last February when I testified, the best I could say about
the jobs picture was that the rate of job loss slowed.
Today, we have much progress to share. In January, the economy
added 50,000 private sector jobs. We have now had 11 straight months of
private sector job growth, adding 1.1 million private sector jobs in
2010. In addition to the jobs we are seeing added in our survey of
businesses about their payroll, our survey of households is showing
even more encouraging news. Last month nearly 600,000 more Americans
were employed compared to the previous month causing the unemployment
rate to fall from 9.4% to 9.0%. While we still have a long ways to go,
Americans are showing perseverance and are finding jobs and creating
new jobs through self-employment and entrepreneurship.
We still need to see more job creation in order to continue to
bring down the unemployment rate and to address the problem of the
long-term unemployed. More than 6 million Americans have been jobless
and looking for work for over six months. Special challenges arise for
people who have been out of work for so long. The Administration is
working aggressively to continue to grow the economy, accelerate job
creation, and address the special needs of the long-term unemployed. My
role is to ensure that workers have the tools they need to succeed and
feed our building economic recovery.
You have asked me here today to discuss my priorities for the
Department of Labor in the coming year. In his State of the Union
address, President Obama spoke of the need to maintain America's
leadership in a rapidly changing world so that our economy is
competitive--growing and working for all Americans. To do so, he is
putting forward a plan to help the United States win the future by out-
innovating, out-educating, and out-building our global competition. At
the Department of Labor, we are working hard to prepare America's
workforce to meet this challenge. My goal is to help foster an economy
in which good jobs are available for everyone and American workers are
prepared with the skills necessary to be productive in these jobs
throughout their lifetime. This means jobs that can support a family.
Jobs that are sustainable. Jobs that are safe and secure. Jobs that can
lift up the middle class. In short, my highest priority is to get
Americans back to work in good jobs. And we must make these investments
while also making difficult choices that will put our nation on a
sustainable fiscal path.
The best way to describe my priorities for achieving this goal is
to look at the Department's accomplishments from the past year. We have
made a great start and I plan to continue our good work.
Preparing Workers for 21st Century Jobs
We know that the skills needed to succeed in today's economy are
different than they were in the early 80s, or even the mid-90s. Going
forward, we must continue to increase the skills of workers at every
level. The roots of this recession are deep and complex. The nation and
the world that is emerging from the recession are different from the
nation and the world that entered it. The key to American
competitiveness lies in its workforce being poised to fully participate
in the 21st Century economy. That is why this Administration is
committed to advancing the skills and education of all workers, and
connecting them with potential employers. If we want to get as many
people as possible into productive careers that can carry them through
their working lives, and to ensure that America has the labor force we
need to be competitive in a global economy, we have got to increase the
skill level of our workforce and link job training programs directly
with good job opportunities.
As you all probably know, I am a big believer in the promise of the
health care and clean energy sectors of the economy. These, and other
high growth sectors, will provide the jobs of the future. I am proud of
the investment that the Department has made in training workers across
the country for these 21st Century jobs. In the health care sector, our
nation needs more registered nurses, nursing aides, home health aides
and medical assistants to care for our families. The Bureau of Labor
Statistics (BLS) projects that health care jobs will experience the
largest job growth of any industry over the next decade.
In his State of the Union address, the President called for 80
percent of America's electricity to come from clean sources by 2035,
including wind, solar, nuclear, clean coal and natural gas. He is also
putting forward measures to ensure that the U.S. is the first country
to put one million advanced technology vehicles on its roads. These
commitments, coupled with private sector investments, will expand our
clean energy economy, producing more green jobs. And with BLS' new
definition of ``green jobs,'' the federal government, states and
cities, large corporations and small businesses can now better target
and track their investments in the green economy. Employers will need
skilled workers to develop, build and maintain the systems that harness
our country's supply of renewable energy and potential for energy
efficiency, a particular emphasis of DOL's recent job training efforts.
The Department's investments in the clean energy economy have
focused on three goals:
1. enabling states to develop needed partnerships and plans to
better align their workforce and state energy policies leading to
2. building the capacity of established job training providers to
train workers for clean energy jobs; and
3. directly supporting education and training services for a
diverse community of American workers either seeking entry into or
retraining for new and emerging jobs in the clean energy economy.
Workers across the country are now actively participating in health
care, clean energy and other in-demand job training programs. They are
learning skills and receiving credentials needed to move up career
ladders in a rapidly changing economy. Workers are also being connected
with employers in these growing industries and in-demand occupations in
their local communities. We are seeing the impact of Department of
Labor programs in cities and towns all across the country.
In Detroit, a struggling single parent of two small children
completed a DOL-funded training program and almost immediately was
hired as a contractor for DTE Energy, Detroit's largest utility
company. Since securing employment, this worker has already been
promoted to supervisor and sees an opportunity in higher education to
pursue a degree in engineering. And DOL programs are helping incumbent
workers expand their skills as well. A construction worker in Florida,
previously at the top of his profession, soon found himself unqualified
when solar panel installation and renewable energy skills became a
requirement. He participated in a DOL-funded program and now has an
industry recognized Solar Photovoltaic (PV) degree.
Similar successes are occurring in training for other high growth
fields, particularly health care. In the District of Columbia, a 26
year-old, African American woman, residing in a neighborhood where
unemployment is 30 percent, received DOL-funded training for employment
in the health care sector. I am pleased that this trainee graduated
from the program and is now employed as a home health aide. Because of
her training and credentials, she was able to become self-sufficient
and has the skills to advance in her new career in the growing health
Our collaboration with the nation's community colleges is another
aspect of our focus on preparing workers for the jobs of the future.
That is why we are collaborating with the business community and
community colleges on programs to provide the relevant training that
industries are looking for, and will surely need more of, as we pave
the way to recovery. As a former trustee on a community college board,
I know first hand the transformative power these institutions can have
in the careers and lives of young and older students. Community
colleges ensure that individuals obtain the credentials they will need
for good jobs. Since 2005, the Department has invested over $485
million in over 250 community colleges and related organizations
through the Community-Based Job Training Grants. By the end of FY 2010,
these grants provided training to over 171,000 individuals, of whom
over 72,000 earned a degree or certificate. And it is just as critical
that employers who understand the needs and the skills desired in their
specific industries are working directly with community college faculty
to develop relevant curricula and coursework that prepare workers to
succeed in good, safe jobs.
On January 20th, we announced the availability of $500 million for
the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) Community College and Career
Training Grants. These competitive grants will provide community
colleges and other eligible institutions of higher education with funds
to expand and improve education and career training programs suitable
for workers who have lost their jobs or are threatened with job loss
because of trade with other countries. These training programs must be
timely--training must be completed in two years or less--and the
overarching goals of these grants are to increase attainment of
degrees, certificates, and other industry-recognized credentials and
better prepare the targeted population, and other beneficiaries, for
high-wage, high-skill employment. The program will also encourage
community colleges to develop innovative methods, use data, and
replicate evidence-based practices to improve student outcomes and
efficiency. For example, grants will support the delivery of online
education that can allow students balancing the competing demands of
work and family to acquire new skills at a time, place and pace that
are convenient for them. We are working with our colleagues at the
Department of Education as we prepare to award and administer these
Developing the skills of our nation's youth is also critical to
ensuring that our workforce is ready to succeed in the future. After
all, today's youth are tomorrow's workforce. The Department has some
great success to build on in the coming year. Through our YouthBuild
program, we are providing disadvantaged youth with the knowledge and
skills required to fully participate in the economy of the 21st
Century. As part of the Recovery Act, we awarded 47 of the 62 Green
Capacity Building job training grants to YouthBuild programs. These
grantees were able to purchase equipment and provide certifications for
their instructors to support energy efficiency and renewable energy
industries. These Green Capacity Building grants have enhanced the
capacity of these YouthBuild grantees, by allowing them to serve more
than 2,750 young people through the program. One great example is the
ARCH Training Program here in D.C., where YouthBuild students assembled
solar suitcases that were sent to Haiti and were used to power medical
equipment in areas with limited, or no electrical power.
Similarly, our WIA Youth program is building a better future for
deserving young people and our nation. State and local areas used close
to $1.2 billion in Recovery Act funds to create robust, high-quality
programs that served 414,256 youth, including more than 350,000 served
during the summers of 2009 and 2010. These young people participated in
summer employment opportunities in clean energy, weatherization, solar
installation, retrofitting, and health care occupations. These
employment opportunities allowed young people to gain job experience
that will help them succeed both in higher education and in the
Take, for example, a young woman who was homeless and trying to
escape an abusive boyfriend. She ended up in a shelter in Boston that
put her in touch with the Action for Boston Community Development's
(ABCD) Health Career Explorations Program. The ABCD program included
workshops on self esteem and job readiness that prepared her to take on
the challenge of participating in a home health aid certification
program and a CPR/First Aid certification program. Her drive and
determination helped her land a paid summer internship in the Radiation
Department at the Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital. Once at Beth Israel,
she found out about the different professional development
opportunities available to her. One of these programs was the Medical
Interpreters Program. Thanks to the discounted price available to her
as a hospital staff member and the sponsorship from the ABCD Youth
Explorations program, she was able to take advantage of this program.
The WIA youth program really changed this young woman's life by
preparing her for a career in the growing field of health care.
Our Job Corps program has a long history of preparing disadvantaged
youth for a successful transition into the workforce and we should all
be proud of the program's accomplishments. As with all of our job
training programs, we are shifting Job Corps to focus on 21st Century
jobs. For example, this year Job Corps partnered with the National
Healthcareer Association (NHA) to pilot a training and certification
program for an Electronic Health Records Specialist job track. As our
country shifts to greater use of digital media and paperless
recordkeeping, the demand for qualified health record specialists is
growing rapidly. The NHA partners with over 1,300 educational
institutions through the country to prepare students for national
health care-related certification exams. Our pilot, which will run
through April of this year, involves a total of approximately 500 full-
time students at nine Job Corps centers, including those in many of
your home states, such as Virginia, Ohio, New York, Florida,
Pennsylvania, and Nevada.
Our Job Corps program does not just help young people in our
nation's cities. We are also in rural areas, training students for jobs
that make sense in their communities. For example, in Representative
Noem's district, we are serving South Dakota's youth for employment
throughout the state. Twenty-one year-old Nick Andrews was looking for
real world bricklaying experience, and he found lots of it while
restoring the Mount Roosevelt Friendship Tower in South Dakota's Black
Hills region. Andrews is a student at the state's Boxelder Job Corps
Civilian Conservation Center. He joined other center students and a
stone mason in an 11-week facelift of the tower, created to honor
President Theodore Roosevelt's support of conservation. The restoration
was funded by the Recovery Act in an effort to restore the monument for
public use by next July, its 90th birthday. ``It is nice to give back
to the public,'' he said about his restoration efforts, adding that at
Job Corps, ``I learned responsibility and leadership skills.''
Chairman Kline, I hope one day you have the opportunity to meet Jay
Booker, a Job Corps student in your state of Minnesota, who has turned
the technology skills he earned in Job Corps into a job at the
Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport. Jay came to Job Corps with a high school
degree and a desire to better his life. At the Hubert H. Humphrey Job
Corps Center in St. Paul, he received advanced training to prepare him
for a career in the transportation industry. He is now a productive,
positive contributor to the economy of your state.
While the Department is focused on the jobs of the future, we also
understand that workers who are laid off cannot wait until the future
to get a paycheck. We are doing everything we can to get workers into
jobs quickly. From the first sign of a layoff to starting a new job,
the Department is helping your constituents and all Americans navigate
the world of job search, education and training, resume writing, and
interviewing, thus reinventing their vision of a better future. Our
staff also help unemployment insurance claimants with income support
needed to help pay their rent, put food on their table, and provide the
necessities of life for their families. In fact, 23 million unemployed
workers received $150 billion in unemployment insurance benefits in
2010. We should remember that those workers have an ongoing
responsibility to look for new employment while they are receiving
unemployment insurance benefits. And, that these benefits help not only
those who receive them, but help our entire economy. This year we
released a study commissioned by the Bush Administration that found
that every dollar of unemployment benefits leads to $2 spent in the
economy, keeping even more Americans in jobs.
We are looking at new strategies for shortening the period of
unemployment for unemployed Americans. DOL hosted a national
Reemployment Summit for approximately 800 state and local practitioners
in December to highlight successful practices, tools, and techniques
that are connecting unemployed workers to jobs. Looking ahead, DOL will
be funding state models to build a common front door to the workforce
system that is supported by integrated registration, common customer
records, and electronic tools and social networking solutions to
finding jobs or job training.
When large-scale, unexpected economic events have occurred in your
states, our National Emergency Grants (NEGs) have been there to provide
a rapid response to the crisis. Significant dislocation events include
business closures, mass layoffs, or realignment and closure of military
installations as a result of the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC)
initiative. National Emergency Grants help displaced workers adapt in a
changing economy. As many of you know, these grants temporarily expand
the service capacity of Workforce Investment Act Dislocated Worker
training and employment programs at the state and local levels.
National Emergency Grants provide resources to states and local
workforce investment boards to quickly help laid-off workers get
rehired by offering such services as skills assessments, career
counseling, job placement and training to increase occupational skills.
Grant funds can also provide supportive services to participants, such
as transportation subsidies, child care and income support in the form
of needs-related payments.
I would like to share with the Committee one example from
California that best illustrates how National Emergency Grants can
extend a helping hand to workers and communities hit hard by economic
disaster. In late 2009, it became clear that the New United Motors
Manufacturing Inc. (NUMMI) plant and several of its suppliers were
going to go out of business. The closure of the 5 million square foot
plant in Fremont, California presaged economic devastation for the
Fremont community. More than 4,300 workers at NUMMI and several of
NUMMI's suppliers were at risk of unemployment, with nowhere to go, as
NUMMI was the only automotive plant on the West Coast.
The Department worked with the California Employment Development
Department on a National Emergency Grant to help NUMMI workers get the
training and employment-related services they so desperately needed.
Within two months of the NUMMI closure in April of last year, I
announced the investment of a $19,042,012 National Emergency Grant for
the training and re-employment of displaced NUMMI plant workers and
their suppliers' workers. I made the announcement at the NUMMI Re-
employment Center, surrounded by those NUMMI workers who would benefit
from the grant. The NUMMI grant covers an estimated 4,350 workers
across 29 counties. Additional Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) funds
are available to pay the costs of vocational re-training, which
typically is the most costly component of dislocated worker re-
employment assistance. I am happy to report that as of early December
2010, over 4,300 of these dislocated workers had been enrolled and are
being served. In fact, the NUMMI Re-employment Center (NRC) classes are
filled to capacity, and the NRC is looking for alternative classroom
facilities to meet the demand. The scope of services to these
dislocated workers project-wide includes needs assessment, counseling,
re-employability plan development, vocational re-training, including
on-the-job training, and job placement assistance.
NUMMI workers are embarking on every type of new career at a wide
array of companies. For example, Ray Morimoto worked at a NUMMI
supplier at Injex Industries as a manufacturing engineer. After being
dislocated due to the NUMMI plant closure, Ray enrolled at the San Jose
NUMMI Career Transition Center (NCTC), work2future. Ray expressed
frustration and constant worry in the beginning of his training and job
search but kept a consistent, hardworking attitude. Ray attended case
manager and job developer appointments to seek advice and guidance and
used the NCTC computer center for job search. In addition, Ray
participated in the Advanced Transportation Technology & Energy, Energy
Efficiency Management Program at West Valley College to enhance his
Ray called NCTC to tell the staff that he had applied for a job
posting from work2future for Chromasun, a solar thermal start-up
company, had a successful job interview, and received a job offer for a
Lead Manufacturing/Quality Engineer position including benefits and a
salary of $80,000 per year. Shortly after Ray was hired, he assisted
Chromasun with the recruitment and hiring of other highly qualified
The NUMMI workers are finding good jobs. While they made on average
$30.97 per hour last April when NUMMMI closed, in their new jobs they
are making an average of $26.35. That is approximately 85% of their
former wage, which is excellent, considering current economic
conditions and competitiveness for employment in the Northern
California area. We have National Emergency Grant successes like NUMMI
in many of your states.
Our NASA-related National Emergency Grant is another example of the
Department's commitment to getting involved early and in a
comprehensive manner when workers lose their jobs and their families
and communities are in need. I am sure that we all read with interest
in the newspaper when NASA announced that it was retiring the Space
Shuttle. The National Emergency Grant program played a key role in
easing the transition of the affected aerospace workers in the Central
Florida area. The Brevard Workforce Development Board was awarded a $15
million National Emergency Grant in June 2010 to help aerospace workers
affected by the phasing out of the Space Shuttle and Constellation
programs to transition into other occupations. The grant allows Brevard
Workforce and its partners to continue the work they are already doing
to help aerospace workers transition into new employment when the
Shuttle and Constellation programs end. To date, $7.8 million of the
$15 million NEG has been released to the Brevard Workforce Development
The National Emergency Grant focuses its training dollars largely
on creating on-the-job training (OJT) opportunities with area
businesses from Brevard and counties from the surrounding Central
Florida Region. The grant also provides occupational classroom training
opportunities. These training opportunities are geared toward eventual
long-term employment for the transitioning aerospace workers, thus
aiding the region's aggressive economic development effort to help
create and sustain jobs. Training is targeted at those industries that
show the most promise of providing workers with good long-term career
prospects in the region: biotechnology, environmental, biomedical,
automotive, electronics, telecommunications, geospatial systems, health
care, aviation, IT, modeling and simulation and commercial
The change in NASA's schedule for ending the Space Shuttle Program
has kept the NASA workers on the job for a while longer than we had
anticipated. That delay has given the area workforce agencies extra
time to hire and train additional staff and reach out to area employers
to find where the jobs will be when the Shuttle program ends. As of
mid-January 2011, Brevard Workforce Development Board secured 148 OJT
slots with an average hourly wage of $31.43. We will continue to look
for the communities that need this kind of help from the Department in
the coming year and will provide the same excellent level of service to
those communities, wherever they are.
As we did last year, in the coming year we will focus on ways to
train workers that help meet their long-term needs, while also
addressing their immediate needs. Many workers simply must find ways to
support themselves and their families while seeking training and the
Department has done much to meet the needs of these workers. We are
advancing and building on ``learn and earn'' models--such as on-the-job
training, Registered Apprenticeship, and transitional jobs--that
provide earnings while increasing employability, skills, and
opportunities for advancement, particularly for disadvantaged
populations. We also will emphasize accelerating learning strategies
for low-income and low-skill workers, such as offering basic skills and
English language proficiency with career or technical skills training.
The on-the-job training model is one that fits our times. It has
tremendous support from both business and labor because it delivers
much-needed training and a paycheck for workers, while helping to
defray some of the employer's costs of providing that training. In our
OJT programs the employer is reimbursed for a percentage of the wages
paid to the worker in training. Participants have a chance to ``learn
and earn,'' gaining skills while getting paid.
For employers, OJT offers the unique opportunity to offset initial
training costs to fill positions while building the company's
productivity as the participant learns the job. An OJT arrangement can
be the impetus for an employer to create the job opportunity now
instead of waiting for higher economic growth. For the long-term
unemployed, OJT gets them back into the job market earning a paycheck
and refreshing their work skills. We have had great success so far. In
an economy where employers are reluctant to hire, OJT is unique among
WIA services in that it places the worker directly with the employer,
providing the employer with reimbursement for the extra costs of
training. And WIA participants who receive OJT typically experience a
higher rate of job placement than other participants.
In June of last year, we announced $75 million in Recovery Act
funds for OJT National Emergency Grants. Those funds went to 41 states,
the District of Columbia, and three federally recognized Native
American Tribes. These National Emergency Grants, or NEGs, are a one-
time funding source to support on-the-job training for the long-term
unemployed, especially in areas disproportionately impacted by the
recession. For example, in your home state of Oregon, Representative
Wu, under the $2,119,166 OJT NEG that the state received, a total of 14
OJT projects have been established, including some in very rural areas,
where the recession has taken a significant toll on small businesses.
During 2010, the Department provided intensive guidance and
assistance to our grantees to ensure that they would be good stewards
of the money awarded to them. Our efforts included an OJT toolkit
website, which has been met with very favorable reviews from our
workforce partners, and an all-grantee meeting in August. We have also
assisted grantees in the planning process so that they design OJT
projects that will maximize job placement. This enhanced and necessary
planning process went beyond even the extensive oversight that DOL
already conducts for most National Emergency Grants because of the
unique nature of the OJT program and the public workforce system's
limited recent experience implementing OJT on a broad scale. I am
looking forward to seeing the fruits of our efforts this year when the
grantees have fully implemented their programs and the results start
coming in. I hope you will share with me any stories you hear from your
constituents about the impact of these grants.
I would also like to share with you some information about the
success of our Registered Apprenticeship program, which I know is
important to many on the Committee. Registered Apprenticeships, like
OJT, are ``earn while you learn'' opportunities. In 2010, more than
100,000 workers entered into a Registered Apprenticeship program. This
equates to over 100,000 individuals entering or returning to work, with
over 400,000 active apprentices continuing to earn and learn in over
20,000 apprenticeship programs nationwide. In addition, more than
50,000 program participants completed their apprenticeships and
received a nationally recognized credential that is portable and
provides a path to the middle class. Our apprenticeship programs are
serving all segments of the economy. Although many people associate
apprenticeship programs with unions, in fact, only 19% of the federally
registered apprenticeship programs that the Department oversees are
joint labor-management programs. Finally, I am especially proud of the
fact that the Office of Apprenticeship recently recognized Wind Turbine
Technician as the first new green occupation to be added to the
official list of apprenticeship occupations--another example of how we
are working across the Department to best prepare workers for the 21st
For a newly unemployed or underemployed worker, navigating the
world of job searching, education and training opportunities, and
federal support programs can be daunting. The Employment and Training
Administration (ETA) has developed virtual tools that make it easier
for unemployed workers to get the assistance they need to get back to
work. For example, we launched an exciting new electronic tool on Labor
Day called mySkills myFuture which makes it easy for unemployed workers
to determine how their current background and experience qualify them
for other potential jobs. Users are able to view local job postings and
locate training and education providers in their area. They are also
able to find descriptions, salary information and common job tasks
associated with the new occupations they are considering. Since its
launch in September of last year, mySkills myFuture has received more
than 398,000 visitors.
I am also excited about a new career exploration tool called
MyNextMove that launched on February 3. MyNextMove.gov provides the
public with a more user-friendly tool that simplifies the information
that individuals need in order to make informed career decisions. It's
written at a reading level that makes accessible to everyone the wealth
of existing information on the skill requirements and other
characteristics of occupations available in the Occupational
Information Network (O*NET).
We have also worked with the White House to upgrade the Worker
ReEmployment Portal to provide unemployed workers, including those who
have exhausted their unemployment benefits, all the information they
need in one place. The site offers a single source for information on
jobs, career training, unemployment benefits, and assistance with
necessary services such as food, health care, and utility payments.
Since its launch, in December 2010, the site has had more than 67,000
visitors. We also are seeking ways to take advantage of on-line
learning technology, for example virtual platforms, to reach as many
workers as possible with training programs that increase skills and
attainment of industry-recognized credentials.
I am also extremely proud of the work the Department of Labor is
doing to help our nation's Veterans. Our Veterans' employment and
training programs are part of a larger effort to provide a smooth
transition process for assisting Veterans, transitioning Service
Members and their spouses as they seek to identify and secure
productive civilian opportunities. By promoting priority of service for
Veterans in the One-Stop Career Center system, we ensure that over 1.6
million Veterans receive the training and employment assistance they
need to obtain good jobs. Our homeless programs help nearly 18,000
Veterans in their efforts to reintegrate into the workforce. We provide
transition assistance to 127,000 Service Members and spouses as they
move from the military into civilian careers. Our Veterans Employment
and Training Service is collaborating with the Vocational
Rehabilitation and Employment Service of the Department of Veterans
Affairs to ensure that Veterans with disabilities receive the training
and employment assistance that will enable them to achieve their career
goals. The Department is proud to assist our heroes who have served our
All of the foregoing job training initiatives benefit from the
extensive policy analysis, research and technical assistance activities
performed by the Office of Disability Employment Policy--or ODEP as we
call it. Job training and job placement initiatives, as well as the
labor standards enforcement activities that I will highlight in a
moment, are made more effective because of the knowledge resources that
ODEP provides on how to enable people with disabilities to have access
to--and receive the benefits of--these services.
Assuring a Fair and High Quality Work-Life Environment
While it is easy to forget in the midst of a recession, merely
having a job is not always enough. We want these to be good jobs that
pay fair wages, keep workers safe, and provide basic benefits. The
Department's enforcement agencies, including the Wage and Hour
Division, help inform workers of their rights and employers of their
responsibilities. This is not just good for the workers. It is also
good for businesses. Detecting and remedying labor violations protects
law-abiding firms from unfair competition against those who flout the
law and cut corners by paying workers less than they are owed.
The Department's Wage and Hour Division has made great strides in
assuring that workers' rights on the job are respected and that
employers who break the law do not have an unfair advantage over the
vast majority of employers who play by the rules. In the two years
under my leadership at the Department, Wage and Hour has secured
impressive amounts of back wages for workers across the country. When
an employer in your district violates the Fair Labor Standards Act by
not paying the required minimum wage or overtime, that employer is
taking money out of the pockets of your constituents. Consider that
Wage and Hour was able to recoup over $10 million in back wages for
over 16,000 workers in the state of Pennsylvania since 2009. In
Tennessee, Wage and Hour's work on over 1,400 cases resulted in almost
10,000 workers receiving $7.9 million in back wages. Throughout the
country, Wage and Hour has recouped nearly $400 million in back wages,
assessed over $18 million in civil monetary penalties in over 52,000
cases and impacted nearly 400,000 workers.
I do not want to leave the impression that these cases are just
about moving numbers between columns in a ledger. The numbers I have
cited represent workers who have been harmed by employers who violate
the law and the difficulties that honest employers face trying to
compete in industries and geographic areas where Fair Labor Standards
Act violations are rampant. For example, conditions in the garment
industry have long pushed contractors to cut corners with respect to
wages, hours and employment conditions. Wage and Hour and other state
and federal enforcement agencies had tried for years to make a
difference in this industry, without much success.
Instead of targeting contractors, who are often small businesses,
Wage and Hour is focusing on manufacturers, often larger employers, by
invoking the long-ignored ``hot goods'' provision of the Fair Labor
Standards Act. The ``hot goods'' provision prohibits the movement of
goods in commerce that have been manufactured in violation of the law.
Manufacturers and retailers who do business with unscrupulous
contractors put at risk their ability to make good on promised orders.
This pressure on the manufacturers and retailers encourages them to
create compliance programs for their contractors and subcontractors and
has the potential to reform the whole industry--without the Department
having to investigate thousands of businesses.
In California, we used this strategy successfully to secure
$158,952 for 110 garment workers who worked for Angel's Finishing,
Inc.--a contractor of the high-end clothing manufacturer, Joe's Jeans.
These garment workers were working extremely long hours finishing high-
end jeans that were later shipped throughout the U.S. and sold at
exclusive department stores such as Macy's, Neiman Marcus, Dillard's,
Bloomingdale's, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Nordstrom. Angel's Finishing was
paying workers on a piece-rate basis without regard for minimum wage
and overtime pay for all hours worked (for example, they forced
employees to work off the books on weekends).
This was a clear case of a company enjoying profits on the backs of
vulnerable workers who were not paid the proper wages. Following this
investigation, the Department pursued an action that prohibited the
shipment of goods produced by Joe's Jeans contractor until all back
wages had been paid. When Angel's Finishing refused to make the workers
whole, Joe's Jeans was forced to step forward and accept liability for
its contractor's violations. In addition to paying the full amount of
back wages, Joe's Jeans was also required to conduct periodic
monitoring of its contractor for wage and overtime law compliance, as
well as education and outreach efforts, and to discuss the financial
terms of its contracts to ensure the contractor's financial ability to
comply. By pursuing this case and other similar cases in the garment
industry, the Wage and Hour Division has helped level the playing field
for all law-abiding employers in the industry and more workers are
getting the pay they are entitled to by law.
When employers cheat workers out of their wages, these workers pay
lower taxes to the Treasury than they would have paid. Employers in
turn pay lower taxes on those wages, which means that vital programs
like unemployment insurance are inadequately funded and available for
workers. Without strategic enforcement, this underground economy is
allowed to thrive and we all lose.
Throughout the past year, Wage and Hour focused on finding
strategies for best leveraging the Department's resources to transform
industries and level the playing field for all employers. Wage and Hour
has found that aggressively enforcing the law when industry leaders
disregard it can have a beneficial effect throughout the industry. For
example, Wage and Hour reached settlements with Tyson Foods and
Pilgrim's Pride, the country's largest poultry processors. These
processors had failed to pay workers for the time they spent putting on
and taking off protective and sanitary gear they needed to wear in the
workplace. The settlements require these processors to pay all of their
production employees for all of this work in all of their facilities.
You can imagine that it would be difficult to convince a small poultry
processor to pay its workers for this time when the industry giants
were not. As a result of Wage and Hour's successful enforcement
actions, vulnerable workers and small businesses throughout the poultry
industry are better protected.
Wage and Hour is also tasked with protecting youth on the job. I am
so pleased to share with you a real success story that has made a
difference in the lives of many of your constituents. In 2009, Wage and
Hour found egregious child labor and other labor-related violations in
the blueberry fields of New Jersey, North Carolina, and Michigan. In
addition to assessing penalties, Wage and Hour took a comprehensive
approach to ending the dangerous practices it had uncovered. Our staff
met with farm groups, community organizations, and state and local
agencies to be sure that employers understood their obligations and
that workers understood their rights.
When Wage and Hour went back into the blueberry fields in 2010,
there were no children working unlawfully in those fields.
Representative Walberg and Representative Woolsey, as the new Chair and
raking Member of the Workforce Protections Subcommittee, I am sure you
are both pleased to know that we are succeeding in preventing children
in Michigan from working under dangerous and unlawful conditions on
your state's commercial blueberry farms. Again, I am proud of the
Department's thoughtful use of resources to transform an industry that
was abusing American workers.
In addition to this great work to change industry practice so that
workers and their wages are protected, the Department's Wage and Hour
Division is also playing an important role in assuring high quality
work-life environments. Achieving work-life flexibility is another
priority of mine, which includes enforcement of the Family and Medical
Leave Act (FMLA). As you know, the FMLA entitles eligible employees to
unpaid, job-protected leave for certain family and medical reasons.
Some of the most compelling stories we have about our enforcement
efforts come from workers who were reinstated in their jobs with back
wages after the Department intervened in support of their rights to
FMLA leave. For example, Wage and Hour received a complaint from a
woman in Georgia who was battling cancer. She was out on unpaid medical
leave and recuperating from a major surgery, preparing for another. Her
employer cancelled her health insurance just before the 2nd surgery and
was preparing to terminate her. Not only was the surgery postponed, but
without insurance she could not afford to see her doctors or get her
prescriptions filled. After the Wage and Hour Investigator explained
the terms of the FMLA to the employer, the employer agreed to reinstate
the worker and restore her health insurance in time for the surgery.
The Wage and Hour Division recently assumed another responsibility
related to work-life flexibility, enforcing the new break time for
nursing mothers law, ensuring women who choose to breastfeed their
infants have the ability to continue to do so even after they return to
work. We are working expeditiously to ensure both nursing moms and
employers have the guidance they need to not only invoke their rights
and comply with the law, respectively, but also make the appropriate
arrangements that work both for the nursing mother and the employer.
The Department's role in this effort will undoubtedly help nursing moms
achieve a balance between their jobs and caring for their children, and
help employers retain good workers at great economic benefit to them
and the workforce overall.
The President's FY2012 budget establishes a $23 million State Paid
Leave Fund within the Department of Labor that will provide competitive
grants to help states that launch paid-leave programs that are
affordable for employers and workers. Addressing work-life balance is a
priority of this Administration and benefits workers, employers and
families. We look forward to working with Members of the Committee on
work-life balance proposals and funding for programs that help workers
be productive and successful in our economic recovery.
At my Department of Labor, we will hold accountable anyone who
treats workers unfairly, whether they are employers or unions. I am
extremely proud of the work that the Office of Labor Management
Standards has been doing to protect union workers. Consistent with our
theme of pursuing the worst of the worst, OLMS has increased its
criminal convictions each year since I came to the Department. In 2008,
OLMS enforcement efforts resulted in 103 convictions; in 2009 121
convictions and in 2010, 130 convictions. Despite these difficult
budgetary times, our budget request for OLMS is level with our request
for last year.
The Department's Office of Federal Contact Compliance (OFCCP) is
also protecting workers and strengthening our economy by opening the
doors of opportunity for all of workers. Over the past two years OFCCP
has negotiated conciliation agreements on behalf of more than 34,250
workers, resulting in more than $19 million in financial awards and
over 3,600 potential job offers for workers who have been subjected to
discrimination. Of particular note is an agreement recently reached
with federal contractor Green Bay Dressed Beef that includes a $1.65
million settlement for 970 women who were subjected to hiring
discrimination. The agreement also netted 248 potential job offers. As
the economy shows signs of growth, OFCCP continues to ensure that
American companies leverage the benefits of hiring a well-trained and
diverse workforce. To these ends, its focus is on strengthening
enforcement, implementing regulatory reform and broadening outreach.
Ensuring Workplaces Are Safe and Healthy
Another goal that I hope we all agree on is to ensure that every
job in America is a safe job. Even in a recession, no worker should
have to risk his or her life to bring home a paycheck. Our worker
safety and health agencies--OSHA and MSHA--are on the front lines
protecting workers from workplace hazards. Even though we have made
incredible progress in protecting workers on the job since these two
agencies were established decades ago, it is still wholly unacceptable
that nearly 4,400 workers died last year on the job and over 3 million
were seriously injured.
One of my top priorities for OSHA in the coming year is to continue
its outreach to vulnerable workers, such as young workers, minorities,
older workers, and workers with low literacy skills who work in low-
wage and high-risk industries with little or no access to information
and resources on preventing injuries and illnesses. When I came before
the Committee last year, I shared with you our plans for a National
Action Summit for Latino Workers Health and Safety in Houston. I am
happy to report that we held the summit last April in Houston and it
was a remarkable success. We welcomed representatives of business,
labor, faith-based and community organizations. OSHA is continuing its
extraordinary outreach efforts this year.
OSHA's work on the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill response in the Gulf
states was a great example of this broad-based outreach effort in
action. During the peak of the operations, more than 47,000 men and
women were involved in responding to and cleaning up the oil spill each
day. This included more than 42,000 response and cleanup workers
employed by BP and its contractors, 1,600 members of the National
Guard, and more than 2,400 federal employees. Many workers faced
potential exposure to weathered oil, oil byproducts, dispersants,
cleaning products, and other chemicals used in the cleanup process.
Depending on their assignments, these workers also faced potential
hazards from extreme heat, slips, falls, material handling, electrical
hazards, and more. OSHA initiated outreach to scores of community
organizations representing a wide range of workers and to employers
providing the clean up services. OSHA distributed over 50,000 health
and safety publications in three languages to workers in the Gulf. In
addition, OSHA worked closely with employers, including BP, to ensure
that workers had the appropriate protective equipment, adequate
training, and information about heat stress in particular. The result
was a remarkably safe experience for the workers participating in the
Of special note, when I came before you last year, I reported on
the largest fine in the history of OSHA levied on BP. I have an
important update on that case. Since OSHA issued the BP fine--which it
issued only after it found that the company had not fulfilled its
promise to abate hazardous conditions after a horrendous and
preventable accident at its Texas City Refinery that killed 15
workers--OSHA has been working closely with BP to reform its safety
practices at the refinery. As part of the settlement of a large portion
of the BP fines, OSHA and BP agreed on specific steps that BP would
take by March of 2012 to address the safety hazards at its facility and
reform its safety practices. In addition, the settlement allows OSHA to
monitor BP's compliance to see that it eliminates the types of
conditions that caused the disaster. I consider this agreement a model
of how OSHA can work with business to transform the culture of safety
for the benefit of all involved
Another way OSHA is working with business to reform the culture of
safety is through its Alliance and compliance assistance programs. As
many of you probably already know, the President's budget for 2012
requests continued funding for the Voluntary Protection Program--a
welcome development in the business community. OSHA will also continue
to fully support its On-site Consultation Program. I hope you have all
heard from small businesses in your districts that have benefited from
this program. In 2010, more than 26,000 small and medium-sized
businesses that employ over 1.5 million workers received on-site
assistance from OSHA's On-site Consultation Program free of charge.
These cooperative programs and outreach efforts are providing the
Agency with information on safety and health practices and improve our
ability to communicate with industry and hard-to-reach workers. As a
result, OSHA is able to operate more effectively and responsively.
In addition to the comprehensive economic feasibility reviews we
conduct, OSHA has taken several steps in recent weeks to enhance our
dialogue with small business about the impact of OSHA regulations. For
example, in response to the concerns raised by the small business
community to OSHA's proposal to reinstate an additional step for
recording musculoskeletal disorders on the OSHA injury logs, OSHA
temporarily withdrew the proposal from Office of Management and Budget
(OMB) review, and it is now working with the Small Business
Administration's Office of Advocacy to meet with small business owners
and other stakeholders to discuss their concerns. OSHA's focus--
protecting workers on the job--will never change, but we are open to
talking to all who have good ideas about how to get there.
While we work with the business community on minimizing the
regulatory burden, I want you all to know that OSHA will continue to
aggressively enforce our safety and health laws against those employers
who refuse to play by the rules and who put profits above their
workers' lives. Often, strong enforcement is the only option to get the
attention of recalcitrant employers. Moreover, strong enforcement
protects business by creating a fair market for them to compete in. The
vast majority of employers in our nation care deeply for their
employees and spend their hard-earned revenue on running a safe
workplace. We cannot sit by while they are forced to compete with
employers who unlawfully cut corners on safety.
OSHA took action when workers in Pennsylvania were put at risk
while working for CA Franc Construction in Washington, PA--a roofing
contractor who refused to take even the most rudimentary steps to
protect its workers. CA Franc repeatedly refused to allow workers to
use fall protection when they worked on steeply pitched roofs. In 2010,
employee Carl Beck fell to his death. He was 29 years old and left
behind two children. It must have caused Mr. Beck's family endless
anguish and grief to know that fall protection equipment was available
on the roof with Mr. Beck, but the owner of CA Franc would not let him
use it. OSHA issued citations to CA Franc for its egregious violation,
and the owner pled guilty to a criminal charge related to Mr. Beck's
You can be sure that going forward, OSHA will continue to protect
your constituents from these kinds of hazards, while working with
employers in your districts who want to play by the rules.
The dangers of mining are well documented. However, we should not
and must not accept a certain number of fatalities in our nation's
mines every year as inevitable. The heart-breaking events at Massey
Energy Company's Upper Big Branch (UBB) mine in Montcoal, West Virginia
last year, remind us that we must stand firmly and defend the right of
every single miner to a safe and healthy workplace, in recognition of
our commitment to the principle that they need not risk their lives
each day for a paycheck at the end of the week.
The past year at MSHA has been an extraordinarily challenging one.
I am, however, immensely proud of the work that our Assistant Secretary
Joe Main and the whole team at MSHA have done to both respond to the
UBB disaster and to continue the critical day-to-day work of the
agency. All of us at the Department of Labor appreciate the support
that we received from my good friend George Miller as Chairman of this
Committee at the time of the disaster and in its aftermath. In
addition, we appreciate the recent comments from you, Chairman Kline,
recognizing the steps that MSHA has taken to strengthen enforcement
since last April 5th.
MSHA has undertaken extraordinary measures to ensure that it is
using every tool at its disposal to reform the behavior of repeat
violators. Since April 2010, MSHA has conducted more than 200 impact
inspections across the country. These inspections target mines that
merit increased agency attention and enforcement due to their poor
compliance history or particular compliance concerns. The results of
these impact inspections are cause for serious concern. While some of
the operators pursued in our impact inspections have taken remedial
actions to clean up their operations, MSHA continues to issue citations
to a significant number of these operators for violations of the most
basic and necessary safety standards. The results of the inspections
demonstrate that despite MSHA's stepped up efforts and the memory of
the UBB tragedy, intransigence persists in some corners of the mining
Last year, for the first time, MSHA sought a federal court
injunction under Section 108(a)(2) of the Mine Act. The lawsuit was
filed against Freedom Energy Mining Company's Mine No. 1 in Kentucky.
The egregious conditions in that mine led us to believe that the mine
operator was engaged in a pattern of violation of the mandatory safety
and health standards under the Mine Act, which constituted a continuing
hazard to miner health and safety. In fact, the operator of the mine
agreed that it could not comply with health and safety standards at
that mine and ended production at the mine. The lawsuit was
successfully resolved when MSHA and Massey, the Freedom Energy
operator, agreed to a court order that requires Massey to ensure the
safety of miners during the shutdown process and protects the
livelihood of the displaced Freedom miners.
MSHA has also revamped the Pattern of Violation (POV) program to
make it more effective and recently published a Notice of Proposed
Rulemaking to make additional changes in the POV process. In addition,
MSHA is moving forward with measures to improve rock dust standards to
prevent explosions and to encourage operators to find and fix
violations before they harm miners. We are using the funds provided to
the Department in the supplemental appropriations bill to reduce the
backlog of contested cases before the Federal Mine Safety and Health
Looking forward, I can assure you that MSHA will continue its
impact inspections and its strategic and comprehensive use of all of
its enforcement powers. Furthermore, in 2011, we will conclude the
investigation into the cause of the UBB disaster and will share
whatever additional lessons that tragedy has to teach us. We have
learned much already, from our post-UBB efforts, and first and
foremost, have learned that if we want to truly change the behavior of
the worst of the worst in the mining industry, as I am sure we all do,
MSHA needs additional tools. This Committee has a proud history of
standing up for miners and being a vigilant protector of their safety
and health. I look forward to working with all of you in the coming
year on using the lessons of UBB to give MSHA the tools it needs to
better protect miners.
Finally, I would be remiss if I did not bring the Committee up to
date on MSHA's campaign to finally end the scourge of black lung
disease in coal country. Last year, MSHA published a proposed rule to
reduce miners' exposure to respirable coal mine dust. This year, MSHA
is moving forward with public hearings on the proposed rule and will
continue its comprehensive strategy to end Black Lung which, along with
the proposed rule, includes enhanced enforcement, collaborative
outreach and education and training to help prevent this terrible
Securing Retirement and Health and Welfare Benefits
My definition of a good job encompasses not only fair pay and safe
conditions, but also fair benefits and a secure retirement. The
Department's Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) works to
protect the security of retirement and other employee benefits for
America's workers, retirees and their families and to support the
growth of our private benefits system. In fulfilling that role, EBSA
oversees approximately 708,000 private sector retirement plans,
approximately 2.8 million health plans, and a similar number of other
welfare benefits plans that provide benefits to approximately 150
million Americans. These plans hold over $5 trillion in assets.
This year, EBSA took many important steps to help the many who fear
that they will never achieve a secure retirement. For those Americans
who must rely on 401(k)-type plans to finance their retirements, the
Department proposed a new rule to improve the transparency of 401(k)
fees to ensure that their hard-earned savings are not unwittingly being
eroded by unreasonable fees. In addition, we extended a helping hand to
workers and retirees who need better information about how to manage
their plan investments. Our proposed rule on investment advice will
make the whole process of choosing investments more transparent and
comprehensible. We hope to make these rules final in 2011.
When your constituents' hard earned retirement savings or other
benefit plan assets are put at risk, EBSA's enforcement resources are
put to work. In 2010, EBSA had tremendous success in protecting
employee benefits through both civil and criminal enforcement actions.
EBSA achieved total monetary results in Fiscal Year 2010 of $1.05
billion. Although EBSA always tries to pursue voluntary compliance or
civil enforcements actions first, when necessary we will use our
criminal authority. In 2010, EBSA closed 281 criminal investigations
that led to the indictment of 96 people.
In fact, this year EBSA initiated a Criminal Enforcement National
Project to target the worst abusers of the trust given to those who
administer benefit plans. The Project pursued people like Gary Merritt,
Vice President of Bemcore, Inc., a company located in Ohio. When a
Bemcore employee left the company and sought to move the balance of his
401(k) account at Bemcore to an IRA, Mr. Merritt instead deposited this
employee's life savings into a Bemcore account and then spent the
money. Mr. Merritt pled guilty to one count of embezzlement.
As with all of our worker protection agencies, EBSA tries to finely
calibrate the type of action needed. Our Office of Participant
Assistance is dedicated to providing compliance assistance, education
and outreach for workers, retirees and their employers. In 2010, our
Benefits Advisors helped more than 370,000 participants and employers
and recovered over $164 million through informal negotiations. One
example in Chairman Kline's home state of Minnesota shows how Benefits
Advisors are helping your constituents. When a resident of Northfield,
Minnesota contacted our Benefits Advisors about his employer's denial
of his application for the COBRA subsidy provided for in the Recovery
Act, the Benefits Advisor brought together the participant and the
employer to work out the problem. The Benefits Advisor was able to
determine that the denial was inadvertent--due to an administrative
error. Together they fashioned a solution that allowed the participant
to apply his overpayment to future premiums. EBSA will continue to
protect your constituents as zealously in the coming year using all of
our tools--from compliance assistant to criminal enforcement--according
to the common sense of our professionals.
I also intend to continue to look at issues facing defined benefit
plans and proposals to help these plans keep their commitments to
workers and retirees. Defined benefit plans play a critical role in the
retirement security of millions of Americans by providing workers the
ability to have a secure and dignified retirement. The President's
Budget proposes to strengthen the defined benefit system by shoring up
the solvency of the Federal agency that acts as a backstop to protect
pension payments for workers whose companies have failed. More than 1.5
million workers and retirees already look to the Pension Benefit
Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) for their benefits and PBGC insures plans
covering 40 million others. The Budget would give the PBGC Board the
authority to adjust premiums and directs PBGC to take into account the
risks that different sponsors pose to their retirees and to PBGC. This
will both encourage companies to fully fund their pension benefits and
ensure the continued financial soundness of PBGC.
Another top priority for the Department in the upcoming year is to
continue our commitment to the highest level of accountability. I see
three main facets to our commitment to accountability: transparency,
evidence-based decision making, and fiscal responsibility. In his State
of the Union address, the President made clear that now is the time to
make the hard choices to reduce our deficit without sacrificing the
investments we need to win the future. Through smart budget choices and
rigorous program evaluations, we can ensure that public funds are being
used wisely and effectively.
Our commitment to transparency can best be seen in how we set our
strategic plan and regulatory agenda. We embarked this year on an
unprecedented outreach effort to inform our strategic planning process.
We directly engaged Congress, our career staff, stakeholders, and the
general public in the process. This outreach effort was multi-layered--
not just posting a one-time notice. We conducted listening sessions in
the field, held web chats, posted the draft Strategic Plan on our
website, and solicited public comments to a dedicated email address. In
addition, our staff sat with congressional staff to talk through an
early draft of the plan and invite their input into the process. These
efforts started early and continued throughout the strategic planning
process. The result is strategic goals that are about workers,
accountability, and doing what works. These goals reflect the desires
of the American people and they guide everything we do.
There has been much in the news lately about the efficiency of the
regulatory process and the wisdom of particular regulations. I have no
doubt we will this morning and in the future have a healthy debate
about the Department's regulatory agenda and particular regulations we
have promulgated. I welcome that exchange. What is beyond debate,
however, is the extent of our efforts to engage a wide swath of the
public in our regulatory process. The Department of Labor goes above
and beyond the requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act to
ensure that the public has a voice in our process. We are the only
Department in the Executive Branch that has held public webchats for
every regulatory agenda we have published in this Administration. To
date, more than 17,400 people have participated in our webchats. That
includes reporters, advocates for workers, business owners, and
congressional staff. During these chats, the public has a chance to
pose hard questions directly to our Assistant Secretaries about why
they are or are not proposing to regulate in a particular manner.
Anyone who tells you that we only talk to one segment of society or our
doors are closed to a certain group is not paying attention.
We are not afraid of scrutiny at the Department of Labor. That is
because we are constantly scrutinizing ourselves. We have adopted a
rigorous self-evaluation program of which I am extremely proud. By
using data and evidence to drive our budget development and program
planning, while constantly evaluating the impact and outcomes of our
work, we ensure that our collective efforts are as effective as
possible. This year, we have brought on board a Chief Evaluation
Officer, Jean Grossman. Dr. Grossman is helping us plan and design
rigorous evaluations to measure the impact of our programs and build
knowledge of what works and what doesn't. She is also working closely
with our program offices to make sure evaluation and data collection
are carefully considered as we execute our programs.
We are emphasizing outcome measures that will tell us by how much
we are actually improving the lives of American workers. For example,
our worker protection agencies will now focus on developing strategies
that leverage our interventions to create a deterrent effect, reporting
on compliance levels for all workplaces covered by our laws, not just
those that are investigated in a given year, and looking for evidence
that workers are in fact safer each year.
In addition, we are not assuming that just because we have done
something before it is necessarily the best way to accomplish our
goals. We are committed to improving how we do our job. That is why the
President's budget includes almost $300 million in Labor's budget for
the Workforce Innovation Fund, which would be funded through 8 percent
set-asides from the Youth, Dislocated Worker, Adult, and Employment
Service formula programs. Programs within the Department of Education
would also contribute to the Innovation Fund with the goal of promoting
collaboration and the development of bold systemic reforms to improve
program delivery and outcomes for individuals. If our Innovation Fund
grantees can find better ways to achieve our workforce training and
education goals, we will happily adapt our programs to take advantage
of these new ideas.
Accountability also means being cognizant of the difficult
budgetary times in which we find ourselves. As I have mentioned, I have
sat where you now sit so I know how seriously you take your
responsibility to ensure that the Executive Branch is wisely spending
the money you vote to give us. We have looked for duplication in our
programs and cut where necessary. For example, last year we eliminated
the Employment Standards Administration, which created an unnecessary
layer of bureaucracy and interfered with the effectiveness of its
component programs. The President's budget includes many difficult
choices. The funding of the Workforce Innovation Fund is an example of
having to make tough choices. When first proposed in the FY 2011
budget, these innovations were largely funded by additions to the
budget. This year, the proposal is largely financed out of current
resources, by shifting resources from an underutilized, slower-spending
set-aside within the Workforce Investment Act (WIA). In this way, we
are putting our money where our beliefs are.
Tough budget times also require that we look for more and better
partners in our work to leverage and align resources to support working
families. ETA is leading our efforts in this area. ETA will work
closely with the Department of Education in particular to ensure that
training and education policies and procedures are coordinated to help
students and workers access all the services they need to obtain good
jobs and avoid any duplication of effort between the two Departments.
We also are working with the Departments of Health and Human Services,
Interior and Agriculture on new opportunities for disadvantaged youth
for summer employment that open up pathways to further education and
career success. ETA also has an active partnership with DOE's Office of
Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. Together these offices are
leveraging investments made in information technology to help workers
address the mismatch between skills needed and the skills available in
the workforce by accessing sophisticated online training. Partnerships
must not only be at the federal level, and so we are also working
closely with partners at every level of the workforce system. For
example, through a collaborative federal-state workgroup, ETA has
developed a new vision and framework for connecting UI claimants to
workforce services and getting them back to work as soon as possible.
Moving Forward Together
As I mentioned at the outset, I believe the American people are
counting on us to work together. I hope in my testimony you will find
many areas where we can all agree that the Department is doing its job
of training and protecting American workers and leveling the playing
field for employers who play by the rules. In addition, I believe that
there are legislative areas in which we can come together to improve
the Department's programs.
Reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act remains at the top
of my list of legislation that should be able to garner bipartisan
support. It has in the past and it should again in the current
Congress. The reauthorization process presents a unique opportunity to
promote innovation in the public workforce system, build on its
strengths, and address its challenges. We can help more workers gain a
foothold in the middle class by making sure that they have the skill
set to succeed in the 21st Century. The Administration's goals for the
reauthorization of the WIA include:
1. Streamlining service delivery--providing easy access and clear
information to individuals and employers in need of service;
2. One-stop shopping for high quality services--One-Stop Career
Centers should provide access and referral to comprehensive employment,
training, and education services across different programs and better
utilize technology to improve customer service;
3. Engaging employers on a regional and sectoral basis--training
programs are often most effective when they are developed on a regional
basis reflecting the labor market or on a sectoral basis focusing on a
4. Improving accountability--performance measures must be designed
to hold programs accountable for better results, without creating
incentives to deny services to those most in need of assistance, and
results should be made available in a transparent way to all; and
5. Promoting innovation--WIA should promote the funding of new and
creative practices and support the replication of those practices that
are successful throughout the workforce system.
We stand ready to provide assistance to the members of this
Committee from both parties as you move forward with your efforts in
As I mentioned earlier, I believe that we can find a way to pass a
bipartisan mine safety bill. It has been done before and we it owe it
to the memory of the lost UBB miners, their families, and those who go
into the mines every day to do it again. The full resources of MSHA and
my office are available for any assistance we can provide.
We at the Department of Labor come to work every day to do our best
to create economic opportunities for the American people. I hope I have
shown you that we are making a difference in the lives of your
constituents and workers throughout the country. We are:
Providing job seekers the skills necessary to land good paying jobs
of the future and linking employers looking to hire with Americans
looking for work;
Ensuring that every employer takes responsibility for the safety
and health of all their workers and leveling the playing field for
employers who want to do the right thing; and
Fighting to make sure that workers are paid the hourly and overtime
wages they have earned, that they do not encounter discriminatory
barriers to work, and that they get the health and retirement benefits
for which they bargained for.
These goals may seem basic and modest, but for American workers
they mean a life of dignity and security. We will undoubtedly have a
vigorous debate about how best to achieve these goals, but if we can
agree that we all want to end up in the same place--in a country with a
robust economy that works for everyone--our debate will be constructive
and civil. I look forward to working with you and together ultimately
ensuring good jobs for American workers.
Chairman Kline. Thank you very much, Madam Secretary, for
Thank you for encouraging a Minnesotan to escape the
Minnesota winter and join us here, a very smart move. I know
that in my home in Lakeville, Minnesota, we have more snow than
we have seen in over 15 years, and it is doggone cold. So, very
We have had some discussion here--the ranking member talked
about it in his comments. We are engaged, as you know, Madam
Secretary--you mentioned it--in a great debate on the floor
here in the House about where we can cut money. And many of us
think we need to cut substantially in order to get at the
runaway government spending and reduce the deficit and, as you
said, get the business community back to creating jobs, not the
In this debate, we are determining priorities, and we are
going to have differing views about what should be cut and so
forth. And I think that is a very healthy exercise that we are
engaged in. But budgets do have an indication of where
priorities might be set, and so I want to address your budget,
if I could, for just a minute.
You have indicated your pride, and I think justifiably, in
the work that the Office of Labor-Management Standards does on
behalf of workers. And yet, when I looked at the budget, you
keep the budget for OLMS about the same level that it had back
in 2010. Yet, on the other hand, your budget increases funding
for the Bureau of International Labor Affairs by, according to
my notes here, almost $9 million.
How do you justify providing new grants to labor
organizations in foreign countries as being more important than
funding the only organization, the only office that you have in
the Department whose job it is to protect union workers here in
America? It seems to me to be an imbalance. How did that come
Secretary Solis. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
What I would say to you is that our funding level has
actually, in the last 2 years, gone up back towards 2001
funding. It is actually now being proposed at a level funding
amount. So we really have not decreased.
What has happened is we have actually become a leaner, if
you will, meaner machine. And we have actually been able to
conduct more audits, election investigations. In fact, on an
average, I would say that, in terms of indictments and
convictions, we are actually much higher than we were in the
previous 2006 and 2009 average. And I have those figures for
convictions: 130 in this fiscal year, 2010, and during fiscal
year 2006 and 2009, it was 119.
We are working more effectively. We are also monitoring
elections, which I know is a big item of concern to many
people, and especially with respect to how elections are
conducted by unions. And I am happy to say that, in this
instance, in 2010, we actually conducted 145 investigations
and, in the prior year, 2006 to 2009, there were only 127. So
we have done a remarkable job with limited funding that we have
been given by the Congress.
And I would say to you that we are really looking at
enforcing the most egregious types of efforts. And let me just
share with you, former secretary-treasurer of an ATU local in
New York was convicted of stealing nearly $2,170 by conducting
unauthorized ATM withdrawals and failing to deposit incoming
receipts payable to local bank accounts.
I would say to you also something that we are doing--we
monitored elections in Puerto Rico. OLMS negotiated a voluntary
settlement agreement with the union called UITICE, an
independent union in Puerto Rico, after discovering that they
hadn't held an election of an officer in 12 years. Quite
remarkable for us to have to expend staff in that way.
Your second question about ILAB, what I would say to you
there is, because we are now at a point, I believe, in this
administration looking at fair trade agreements and how we work
collectively with partners that we have been working with in
the past years, we are trying to establish better standards so
that workers, for example in Central America, will have some
monitoring tools on a tripartite level with the ILO, with the
government of that country, as well as the business community.
So let me give you an example. In a country like Nicaragua,
they have a big textile industry. There has been a potential
agreement to help begin a program that we call Better Work that
actually started in the previous administration. It has been
ongoing now for more than a decade. And what they do is try to
level the playing field in terms of providing support for those
individuals that are working in that workplace, many of whom
are women, vulnerable women; taking youngsters out of that
industry so you don't abuse children, you know, you are not
trafficking or not using children to compile the materials that
are eventually going to be brought back to the U.S., in many
cases, or the world. And it is a discussion to have people then
focus in on how you can lift the standard of living of people
who live in that country so there won't be a magnet to attract
them to come to our country.
So it has different purposes and one that, I believe, has
bipartisan support. And I would hope that we can continue to
engage. If it is necessary for me to have my Under Secretary
come and speak to you and staff about it, I would be more that
happy to do that, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman Kline. Thank you very much, Madam Secretary.
We must have messed up the clock here. I couldn't have used
up 5 minutes already. Could I have done that?
Mr. Miller. It seemed like a lifetime to me.
Chairman Kline. Seemed like only seconds to me, because the
Secretary was very engaging, Mr. Miller.
So I did want to follow up a little bit more on OLMS, but
we have other Members on both sides who want to ask questions.
So I will yield to Mr. Miller.
You are recognized.
Mr. Miller. Thank you very much.
And, again, Madam Secretary, thank you for your testimony.
I believe that you do outline a remarkable record.
I would assume some of this foreign money also is in
anticipation of the passage of some trade agreements. I may not
agree with them, but it sounds to me like they are on their
way. And the implementation of that for the business community
and the employee community is very important.
One of my concerns--and others will touch on the overall
issue, but--is the impact of closing down One-Stop centers on
our veterans. I know, I think, in your budget, there is
additional money--or I don't know if it is your budget or the
veterans budget--to help reintegrate our returning troops into
the economy of this country and into the workplace.
Many of them left straight from high school to go to Iraq
and to go to Afghanistan and are now coming back and seeking
skills in trades that they may not have acquired in the
military or they have and they want to build on those skills by
going here. And one of the big integration points that has been
successful, apparently, is using the VETS money, the V-E-T-S
money, to take those vets to the One-Stop centers and give them
full exposure to the training opportunities, to the employment
opportunities that exist in their communities, you know, where
they came from, where their homes are.
But I am making the assumption, I am asking you, in April,
should these cuts go into place that are slated to go--this is
a continuing resolution, so it would happen in March--that, in
April, those One-Stop centers would be shut down. I assume that
they shut down for the vets also.
Secretary Solis. Well, it would impact a great number of
people, including those vets that have one of the highest rates
of unemployment, especially the returning vets from Iraq and
Afghanistan. And they are the youngest. Their unemployment rate
hinges around 11 percent.
We have tried to roll out programs more aggressively to
identify opportunities, working with the Chamber of Commerce
here in Washington, D.C., on a national level, to try to
encourage employers to immediately hire up these returning vets
and create that opportunity.
Mr. Miller. I think this would be very unfortunate. I had
the honor, 2 night ago, of having dinner with a former Navy
Seal, who, himself, was shot 27 times, survived, has recovered,
and is now working with a foundation. And they are taking
seriously injured Navy Seals and reintegrating them into
college or the workplace. And it is rather remarkable. The
other soldier that was with us was a Navy Seal who was injured
and took a direct shot to the head. He is now going to be
enrolling in college, through a lot of hard work, to become a
history teacher. That is what he always wanted to do as a
And the point is this: that, as we realize the trauma of
the trauma that our veterans have received in terms of brain
injuries and others, as time goes on, we are also finding out
that there are more opportunities to reintegrate them over time
as we are able to work with their injuries. And employment,
obviously, is key. Many of these veterans are returning to
And the One-Stop centers have been a place where, instead
of having this veteran having to run from place to place to try
to sort out the resources to provide the training, that is the
key to the One-Stop centers. And I just think we should be very
concerned about the idea that the lights are going to go out in
that One-Stop center in April.
Let me turn to another subject, and that is, again, this
idea that--in the hearings we had at the beginning of your
administration was this whole question of employees not being
paid for the work that they do and, really, the Department of
Labor becoming a handmaiden for some of those employers, by
covering for them and lying to the employees who were seeking
wages that there was no question that they were due.
And I see that--you know, I said $300 million. It appears
to me that it may be closer to $400 million.
Secretary Solis. Yeah.
Mr. Miller. And I look just in your testimony, you say in
Pennsylvania you recovered over $10 million in wages for over
16,000 workers. In Tennessee, it was $7 million for 1,400
cases. Throughout the country, you say $400 million, impacting
about 52,000 cases.
I mean, this is almost--I hate to say it--it is a little
bit like an epidemic that was going on here, because there was
no price to be paid for running out on the wages. And I just
wonder, are you able to continue that kind of prosecution on
behalf of these employees?
Secretary Solis. Well, actually, we will be impacted if
there are cuts made to our budget. It would also mean that we
would have to dislocate a lot of the new investigators that we
brought on board in the past 2 years. So we are looking at
approximately anywhere from 300 new investigators that we hired
up in the last 2 years to conduct compliance as well as
outreach and, more importantly, helping those vulnerable
workers who oftentimes aren't even aware that, in some cases,
they are even misclassified. And that is another problem that
we are trying to address.
But the fact of the matter is that this is a problem. And
it hurts our economy. It hurts those legitimate businesses that
actually pay overtime, minimum wage, that pay into the workers'
comp system, the disability system. That is money that is
robbed by other workers and folks that have to end up paying
for that through other types of taxes that are increased
because people are utilizing services that should have been
paid correctly by an employer to begin with.
What we are trying to do is level the playing field, inform
workers, but also have more compliance with business, in
particular small businesses, who may just not understand what
the rules are. And it is really trying to create a sense that
the Wage and Hour division can be more of a help and not always
the heavy hand here. And, in the past, as you know, that wasn't
the case. People would call and make complaints; people on our
side would not handle those complaints unless they were the
bigger cases that came about.
What we are doing now is strategically using our resources
also to look at industries where we see that there are patterns
of abuse. I gave you one example in the construction industry.
We have problems there with people not being paid appropriately
over time. And when there are injuries there and they are not
covered and they are misclassified, they go to the emergency
room, guess who picks up the tab? We do, the taxpayer.
That is why it is important to go after these industries
that are not playing by the rules and undercut our economy and
then go directly to those vulnerable workers, abuse them. And,
in many cases, because they may not be documented, they
purposely abuse that population.
So we are trying to clean that up, while also making the
businesses comply with the laws.
Mr. Miller. Thank you.
Chairman Kline. Thank you. The gentleman's time has
Mrs. Biggert, you are recognized.
Mrs. Biggert. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you for having
And thank you, Madam Secretary, for being here.
I have a question concerning something that you and the
Department of Labor proposed in October of 2010, and that was a
rule that would amend the 35-year-old definition of who can be
considered an ERISA fiduciary. And I do think that this
proposal expands the universe of people who owe fiduciary
duties to ERISA plans by broadening the concept of rendering
investment advice for a fee.
And I hope that this doesn't happen, but I think that it
does increase liability and the cost of advice and reduce
choice for plan sponsors and participants and IRA account
owners. And you have had a comment period, and there is going
to be a public hearing in March.
But my concern really is that, after the President recently
announced an effort to ensure regulations do not cause undue
burdens on businesses and on customers, the Department
redrawing the fiduciary lines at the same time that the SEC is
considering proposing new rules under the new Dodd-Frank
financial services law for broker-dealers in this area.
Now, I also serve on the Financial Services Committee, and
yesterday Chairman Schapiro from the SEC was there, and I asked
her this question, too. Have you considered the possibility
that conflicting standards could result from the SEC and from
the Department of Labor?
And I would think that it would really make sense to
coordinate efforts with the SEC. And I asked Chairman Schapiro
if you two had gotten together to discuss this issue, and I
would like to know your response.
Secretary Solis. Sure, thank you, Congresswoman.
As you know, the standard, set definition of a fiduciary
was actually established about 35 years ago. So it is somewhat
outdated when you look at the new kinds of plans that we have,
for example, 401(k), which has dramatically changed----
Mrs. Biggert. But, really, if you would just answer the
Secretary Solis. Yes.
Mrs. Biggert. Have you and Chairman----
Secretary Solis. My staff has. My Assistant Secretary for
EBSA, Phyllis Borzi, has been working with them. So, yes, all
the way through, we are working with them in dialogue. And I
know that we are going have a planned comment forum in March,
March the 1st, so there will be more opportunity to hear from
everyone, all the stakeholders. And we are working very closely
with the SEC. Yes, that is an affirmative.
Mrs. Biggert. So would you possibly submit a follow-up
communication addressing how the proposed rule would interact
with the authority granted the SEC under Dodd-Frank?
Secretary Solis. To the extent that I can give you as much
information, I would be happy to do that and have my Assistant
Secretary respond, absolutely.
Mrs. Biggert. Okay. Thank you.
Then, you know, as people are really taking more ownership
of their savings--I think we actually have people trying to
save more money now--investor education has become even more
critical. And the Department's proposal appears to make it more
difficult to provide investment education without substantial
risk that the activity would later be determined to constitute
fiduciary advice. And this would restrict access to much-needed
investment education and guidance.
How can we ensure that the Labor fiduciary rule and the
ongoing efforts in the SEC are aligned and help offer investors
more, and not less, education and guidance on planning for
Secretary Solis. Well, I have the belief that what we are
attempting do in this administration is really provide more
opportunity, more transparency, and more options for the
particular individuals that would benefit from these types of
plans, and making sure that the fiduciary--that there is a
responsibility in making sure that that information is
transparent and that there is no conflict of interest. That is
what the purpose of this particular rule is, to look at that,
to make sure that it is unbiased investment advice.
And I know that creates some possible concerns by the
industry itself, but this is something that I believe consumers
are owed. And because we have found in the last few years that
there have been problems in this industry, this is a way of
helping to address that information and make it more
And I definitely will work with you. I would like to follow
up with you and with my staff.
Mrs. Biggert. Thank you.
I yield back.
Chairman Kline. Thank you.
Mr. Kildee, you are recognized.
Mr. Kildee. I thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Madam Secretary, about 30 years ago, the merchants in the
largest mall in my district called me to come out and have a
meeting with them. They begged me not to increase the minimum
wage. They said that the minimum wage would ruin many of them
if that were to happen. I disagreed with them and came back and
voted for the increase in the minimum wage.
But within a year, less than a year, they called me for
another meeting and pushed me to vote for the appropriations
for the TAA, because the TAA requires an appropriation, and the
Appropriations Committee was rather slow on that. And they were
rather angry that we were not pushing. And I told them, you
know, I was pushing it very, very hard. And we did, indeed,
increase the TAA, or appropriate the money for it.
They could see the link between, themselves, minimum wage
and their profit, by they could not see any link between
workers having purchasing power and their success.
Can you tell that, in addition to how individual workers
are helped by TAA, how the economy is helped by the TAA?
Secretary Solis. Thank you, Congressman Kildee.
The TAA program, as you know, was not passed by the
Congress, and, therefore, it is expired, at this point.
Unfortunately, we have come up with a decision that says that
we believe we can still move forward, but we are going to need
legislation to help restore that program.
What happened since 2009 is that we actually were able to
help certify workers, over 400,000 in the year 2009, and that
approximately allowed for 170,000 workers, who may not have
been eligible, to be eligible for TAA, especially during this
recession, because we had the additional ARRA moneys available.
TAA provides, also, a safety net for health care. So many
people that lose their health care because they lost their job,
because their job went overseas or was outsourced, provides a
safety net in terms of COBRA, so people could have assistance.
They also, in some cases, get a wage. And they also get
And I have seen it work very well in places that have been
hard-hit, whether it was in Florida, for example, with the
discussion about closure of NASA and that particular industry,
helping to provide a safety net for people who had to start
looking for new jobs or people that were dislocated.
The perfect example that I look to is in my own home State,
in Fremont, with the NUMMI plant, the auto plant that was
closed there, Toyota; 4,200 workers lost their jobs. We were
able to help provide, in cooperation with the local workforce
investment boards there, to come together and help these people
find training, but also be able to draw down some assistance so
that they wouldn't be forced out of their homes or could
continue to pay rent for where they were staying.
This is a tremendous help for many people who have been
impacted. I would urge the Congress to think seriously of
passing and restoring the TAA program. It has been around for
many years, and it has had bipartisan support. So I am not
quite understanding why we haven't been able to do it, but I
hope that we can work together on that issue.
Mr. Kildee. Thank you very much.
What effect will the draconian cuts, particularly in OSHA,
have on the economy?
And what effect will it have on the Web site? You know,
knowledge is power, and the more power that the worker has, the
more he or she can help themselves access certain programs.
Secretary Solis. Well, Congressman, what it would
immediately do is push off us promulgating any new standards.
That is number one. There could be a potential layoff of the
new staff, many of the new staff that we brought in 2 years ago
as a result of ARRA funding. So we are looking at, perhaps,
possibly, the range of 415 new hires and investigators that
were brought into OSHA. That would include 200 inspectors and
17 whistleblower investigators that would also be impacted. In
addition, that would also mean 8,000 fewer workplace hazard
inspections conducted by States. That is not the Federal
Government. And, in addition, it would also, overall,
throughout the country, impact about 18,000 fewer inspections
in total. That is just to give you an indication of what would
With the elimination of the Web page, as you asked, that
also would cut off, I think, a lot of assistance that is
provided for millions of workers but also for small businesses
that look for compliance assistance. I think that is the
second-highest-rated Web site that is used by the public in the
Federal Government, is what I am told by my Assistant Secretary
Mr. Kildee. Thank you, Madam Secretary.
Chairman Kline. Thank you. The gentlemen's time has
Mr. Roe. Thank you.
Thanks for being back.
Madam Secretary, how many times have you met with the
President one on one to discuss labor and jobs issues since you
have been in office?
Secretary Solis. I have met with him several times, in
Mr. Roe. One on one, where you discussed the labor issues
of this country, not in a group, a large group? Where you went
in with your staff and met with the President individually?
Secretary Solis. I think that I would tell you that I have
had several opportunities to talk to him when we have been in
private locations, when we are visiting.
Mr. Roe. But, not to interrupt you, but, I mean, to have a
meeting set up where you are going to discuss labor issues with
the President of the United States.
Secretary Solis. We have had--we have had several meetings.
Mr. Roe. The second question I have is, the Federal
Government--there is an article in USA Today--the Federal
Government spends about $18 billion a year on 47 different job-
training programs run by 9 different agencies. And all but 3
programs overlap with others to provide the same services to
the same population, according to the GAO--this is not me, but
this is GAO--and found that little is known about the
effectiveness of the programs because half haven't had a
performance review since 2004, and only 5 have ever had a study
to determine whether job seekers in the program do better than
those who don't get in the program.
So it would be like, you know--have you done anything to
pare down this huge, enormous bureaucracy into something more
Now, we certainly know that there are programs that work.
And I think you can show they do. But I will bet you there are
programs that overlap that don't work, that don't give you much
bang for your buck.
So have you done an overall review of the Department of
Labor and looked and say, how can we put these together to be
more efficient? It doesn't sound like it has happened.
Secretary Solis. Well, I would tell you that, yes, it is
happening. And we conduct reviews and evaluations internally of
our programs. And the minute I became Secretary, I asked for
reviews of all of our training programs.
And, as you can understand, this will now be my second
year, but we are looking at trying to make sure that we catch
things that we know--for example, if there are problems with
acquisition of equipment or things of that nature, things that
haven't appropriately been conducted, or training that perhaps
may have not been reported accurately by our contractors----
Mr. Roe. We have 47 programs that overlap. And it is
confusing. I have been a mayor of a city and trying to figure
out what we can use.
Have you looked at that and done away with any of them and
said, these are just not effective, they don't work, and let's
combine into WIA or something that does?
Secretary Solis. Well, I would say that not all of the
training programs that you are talking about are under the
Department of Labor. But we have made an effort to work and
coordinate, for example, with programs that deal with summer
youth. And I know, at many levels, the locals have a lot of
responsibility, also, for helping to implement the money that
goes to the State or goes to the local county or the city.
And trying to minimize duplication a big priority for us.
That is why we have a whole new evaluation--a chief evaluation
officer that is also looking to see how we could make strategic
movements and amend some of our resources.
But I think this is where WIA reauthorization really comes
in. Because I do believe we can streamline, I do believe we can
do a better job and, kind of, look at how we structure that
program so that we don't miss the boat, that we really connect
to the employers and the businesses and make sure that we are
not duplicating our activity.
Mr. Roe. A year from now, are we going to be here--could we
have this meeting a year from now and say there has been
coordination of these agencies? Because I think there is a lot
of redundancy in these.
And I will go to the next question I have. I have been an
employer for over 30 years, and I worked and--was on the
pension committee. So I am very familiar with ERISA, and did
this for about 30 years.
And here, as an employer, are some of the frustrations that
we have. It is when you--and the President said he wanted to
cut down the rules and regulations, and I could not agree more
with him. We have OSHA, and we have TOSHA, which is Tennessee's
department. We have workers' comp, ERISA, Family Medical Leave
Act, Affordable Care Act, Department of Labor, Medicare,
Medicaid. I mean, all these things have burdensome rules, and
it makes it almost impossible to run your business.
And back to Ms. Biggert's comment a minute ago, I think it
is--in the financial sector, they are having the same problems
we are, not knowing whether to follow the SEC rules, whether to
follow ERISA rules, what to follow. So it is the confusion in
these different agencies that don't coordinate.
And these rules I have just gone through here, I could give
you example after example about how it cost our business money.
And, quite frankly, I look at OSHA as a heavy-handed
organization. And, I mean, I view them as somebody not to help
me but that can hurt me and not improve safety in my shop.
Secretary Solis. Well, Congressman, I would say to you that
one of our goals is providing for retirement security through
our EBSA, you know, agency there. And what we have been able to
do is--one is emphasize participant assistance, so that is to
give information, transparency for people who participate in
the programs, but also enforcement, because we know that there
is a lot of fraud, quite frankly. And I think that the public
realizes that we have to have tools to be able to detect when
there is fraud and abuse.
And that is pretty much where we are coming from. And I
would very much like to have the opportunity to ask my
Assistant Secretary, Phyllis Borzi, to come in and meet with
you personally to talk about any of these issues where you
might have concern.
Mr. Roe. Thank you.
I yield back.
Chairman Kline. Thank you.
Mr. Payne. Thank you very much.
It is really a pleasure to see you here. And, you know, I
commend you for the outstanding work that you have been doing.
And I think that it is important that our Nation continues
to protect its workers. You know, we are the top nation in the
world because we have a concern about people. And I think that
many of the laws, although business people say how intrusive
they are because, you know, an OSHA inspector will come in and
say, ``This employee should have on earplugs because it is more
than 85 decibels,'' is a nuisance.
I think that, unfortunately, many businesses feel their
only responsibility is to their stockholders or to their
investors. Therefore, they must make the most profit that they
must do. And, therefore, they are going to take the shortcuts.
And I think that, you know, if you get into the philosophy
of government, John Locke and Jean Rousseau, they talk about
whether, you know, you have to impose constraints on people.
Because if you allow business to simply have a system where
everything goes, then we get back to the way it was with the
robber barons and when we had children working in factories and
people working 12 and 14 hours without overtime.
So, unfortunately, because business--and I am not a
businessperson; I have been a worker--but, evidently,
businesspeople feel that we shouldn't have taxes, shouldn't
have regulations, we ought to do what we want to do, because
our responsibility is to the bottom line.
And I can appreciate that. As a union person, my whole
argument was, I think we should protect workers against things
that--as a matter of fact, we are having more deaths in the
construction industry in the New York-New Jersey area than we
have had in the past years.
We have faulty equipment. We have had equipment that people
knew was inappropriate, and deaths have come about. So when we
hear about how we can't make a dollar in the U.S. because of
all of these labor and government constraints, I think that the
thing is being blown out of proportion.
Let me just ask a quick question about community college
programs. We have heard a lot of discussion about employers who
are struggling to find workers with skill sets required for
today's challenging job markets in spite of high unemployment
rates. As a result, nontraditional students, which includes
adults and dislocated workers, are enrolling in community
colleges at record rates, making up the largest pool of
students in such schools.
Yesterday, representatives from a community college in my
district shared their excitement for the current competitive
grant program for community colleges from your department. Can
you expand on these opportunities, as well as the Department's
overall strategy for helping community colleges meet the
educational and training needs for students and employers to
improve job growth?
Secretary Solis. Thank you, Congressman Payne.
We have, in the past few weeks, put out a solicitation for
grants for TAA career community college opportunities. And that
money has been set aside to help provide for expansion and
retention for programs at community colleges that partner with
businesses. So every aspect of the program has to include an
employer, and it has to look at programs that are worthy of
So we hear oftentimes of the impaction of programs
occurring in the nursing industry, where you have so many
candidates that want to get into nursing but there aren't
enough slots. I have heard heartbreaking stories of people who
had to wait 5 years to get into a nursing program at their
And, with this money, it will help to drive that expansion,
so that capacity building, acquisition of equipment can be
handled. And new areas that need to be expanded, so high-tech,
renewable energy, those sources of new fields in the green
sector can also be expanded. That is, I think, a shot in the
arm for community colleges, especially right now.
I look at my own State of California, where there is a
budget crisis and where the first hits are going to be lodged
at the community colleges. Every State that participates will
receive an amount of money, but it has to go through the
community colleges. And they should partner with other groups
that are nontraditional, community-based as well. They can
partner also with, obviously, businesses through the WIA
But it is an opportunity, I think, for people to begin that
discussion and to really make decisions at the local level, not
be driven by the Federal Government, but what is needed at the
regional level. So, say there is an opportunity to create
lithium batteries in Ohio, and there is a community college
system that knows they have a need for the equipment. They have
a class size, but they need to expand that more because there
is a big need. Those are opportunities that are going to
benefit the local participants, but, more importantly, be able
to grow to capacity.
And I think, again, that is an important program. And I
hope that the Congress will understand that we need to preserve
that program. Because my understanding is that there have been
proposals to cut back in the fourth year of funding for that
Chairman Kline. I thank the gentleman.
Mr. Walberg. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
And thank you, Madam Secretary, for taking our questions
and our concerns, as well.
I represent a district in Michigan right next-door to where
you had the opportunity to tour the GM plant. I have a Chrysler
proving grounds. I have probably the newest and finest GM plant
in Delta Township, up near Lansing, in my district, that I
believe makes the cars people want to buy there.
But we also, in my district, have 11.7 percent
unemployment, on average. In several counties in my district,
there is upwards of 15, 16 percent unemployment still. So,
truly, it is an issue where there has to be concern about
employee safety, but also employee employment and the success
of businesses that are enabled by having reasonable and
understood regulation that goes through.
And so, Madam Secretary, OSHA recently pulled back two
proposals, as you know, a noise standards and musculoskeletal
disorder proposals, citing the need for more study on how these
proposals would affect small businesses and to better
understand, as they said, how these would impact business.
The question I would like to ask first for you to respond
to is, can you explain how these proposals were put forward
without clear understanding of the harmful economic impact on
businesses and, I would hasten to quickly state, concurrently
on employees as well, with little to show for improved worker
Secretary Solis. Thank you, Congressman Walberg.
I would say to you that the reason why we pulled both regs
back is because we know--we heard, we had a lot of comments
from the business communities, as well as from other
stakeholders, and we felt, again, in our best interest, that we
take our time with getting more information from those groups
that would be affected. I think that is the right thing to do--
Mr. Walberg. Forgive me. I guess the key question is, if,
indeed, you came to the conclusion that we needed more time and
needed to take more care, why wasn't that the first order?
Secretary Solis. Well, we do take in comments. And it is
not to say that we close those comments off. But I would tell
you that we are making every effort to make sure that we work
with the Small Business Administration advocacy office, as we
plan to do, and have more comment from the public.
So it is actually taking a step in a direction that will
allow for more thoughtful discussion from all stakeholders and
from employees, as well. Because we equally get a lot of
concerns and letters from people who feel that we should be
moving forward. So we also have a lot of, how could I say,
interest on the part of those employees that feel, why are we
not taking action when we know that there are certain issues
out there that are impacting them currently on the job.
Mr. Walberg. Thank you.
Secondly, last year, the Department rescinded the final
regulations concerning union financial reporting on Form LM-2.
That was promulgated by the past administration. And, as I
understand it, the rescinded rule would have increased the
information provided by large unions on Form LM-2 that they are
required to file about parties buying or selling union assets
and the compensation of union officers and employees, and it
would have required considerably more detail and itemization in
these categories than under the 2003 rule.
And so, can you explain to me why the Department rescinded
the final LM-2 rule issued by the prior administration and how
that doesn't mean less information and less transparency for
rank-and-file union members about how their dues are spent?
And I ask that with the context that, since 2001, OLMS,
using information from LM-2, 900 convictions and $93 million of
court orders were issued in restitutions to workers. And that
is a concern. And that is their benefit. So I am concerned that
we would rescind those rules. Why?
Secretary Solis. We rescinded that rule because we found
that it was duplicative in nature, and we were already
receiving information that was already fulfilling its purpose.
So there was no need to burden and provide more paperwork for
information that was going to be made public anyway. And that
is, quite frankly, our position.
And I would tell you that, even though we have restructured
the OLMS office, I did talk about the fact that we have
actually been able to indict more individuals, bring more
criminal prosecutions, and conduct, I think, a more robust,
concentrated effort, where we are really looking at the bad
actors. And I mentioned some of the folks that we were
successfully able to prosecute--some, I mentioned earlier, in
New York. There was a case also in New York, CWA Local. Someone
there, a former president of CWA in fact, was guilty of
embezzlement; $200,000 to $400,000 was taken. And we were able
to handle some of these very large cases.
So I don't think we have pulled back from our enforcement.
What we are doing is trying to make sure that we have a level
playing field, that all have access to information. And
transparency is first and foremost in our mind.
Mr. Walberg. Thank you.
I yield back.
Chairman Kline. I thank the gentleman.
Mr. Andrews. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Madam Secretary, we are very proud that a young woman who
sat at the kitchen table, worried about how to pay for her
education, now sits at Cabinet table. We are very proud of you
and proud of your service to our country.
Let's say that a constituent of mine runs a supermarket,
hired a teenager this morning, 17-year-old, and had a question
about what he was able to have her do, as far as duties in the
store with respect to certain worker-safety standards. Could
that supermarket owner call your department and get an answer
to that question?
Secretary Solis. Absolutely. And we are encouraging it, in
Mr. Andrews. And so, they wouldn't have to hire an attorney
or they wouldn't have to spend money on something; that there
is a Web site, I assume, that they could go to with some of
Secretary Solis. Our OSHA division, I think, has done a
terrific job in making information accessible to everyone, in
fact, for, in particular, business owners, small business,
grocery types, many are immigrants. Many don't have a good
command of the English language. So we also provide information
and tools to them in their language that is more accessible and
more appropriate, for them to understand our laws.
Mr. Andrews. I know this, frankly, is the Korean-American
grocer in Camden, New Jersey, that I represent. It is the
bodega and many others. There is a Polish market in one of my
Now, I understand that the budget on the floor today would
cut nearly $100 million from OSHA's budget, almost a 40 percent
cut, because you have to cut that by September 30th. So, in
other words, if this becomes law, you would have to cut about
40 percent of what you spend in OSHA to get to the end of the
Would there be somebody to answer that call from the
supermarket owner this morning if you had to do that 40 percent
Secretary Solis. I think, well, if that happens, we are not
going to have that Web site available and that information, and
we definitely will have fewer staff available to----
Mr. Andrews. But my understanding is that one of the cuts
that is proposed, which is the technology and information
account, is the account from which the Department's Web site is
Secretary Solis. That is correct.
Mr. Andrews. So you wouldn't have the personnel to update
and run the Web site.
Secretary Solis. That is correct.
Mr. Andrews. What other kinds of changes would it mean if
you had to reduce your budget by 40 percent between now and the
end of the year? What would it mean to the taxpayer who is
sitting at home watching you testify today?
Secretary Solis. Well, I think you would being seeing that
there may be more injuries taking place. And, obviously, that
has a cost to business, for the business owner but also for
society if they are not given coverage, if there is no
insurance or health insurance available. That also would have a
Mr. Andrews. I assume that you get a number of complaints,
I am sure, that are not valid, that perhaps a person who has a
grudge against her employer, his employer calls and make an
accusation, and you go out and look at it and find out that
there is nothing wrong. I assume what would happen is you
wouldn't be able to investigate those claims as quickly as you
do right now. Is that right?
Secretary Solis. That is correct. And I would tell you that
one of the things that happens with OSHA is that, in many
cases--and you don't hear about this regularly--is that we will
sit down and we will negotiate with the business owner. And
oftentimes it doesn't lead to a particular citation or penalty
because there was or will be corrective action. If they
participate also in our consultation or our programs that
provide compliance assistance, we will look at that favorably.
So those are things that the business community may not be
Mr. Andrews. Let's pursue that for a moment. Let's say that
there is what--and Mr. Kline will want to pay attention; this
is a lawyer's phrase coming--a de minimis violation, where
Chairman Kline. Is that Latin or Greek or----
Mr. Andrews. It is Latin.
Chairman Kline. Oh, Latin. Okay.
Mr. Andrews. Yes, it is. It is Latin. It is high mass.
But let's say there is a de minimis exception. Notice is
not posted on a bulletin board or something of that nature. It
is your practice, as I understand it, to try and negotiate that
out and perhaps just write a letter saying, ``Please put the
Would you have the personnel to have those negotiations as
frequently or as quickly?
Secretary Solis. Probably not.
Mr. Andrews. Which I assume would lead to worse outcomes.
I just want to make the point that a reckless cut like this
obviously has a severe impact on the Department, and that is
regrettable. But it has an impact on the public: on the
supermarket owner who wants to make that call, on the worker
who is working in unsafe conditions, on the employer who has
been wrongfully accused and wants to get the matter resolved
more quickly, or the employer who maybe wants to have a
negotiation so you don't turn a molehill into a mountain.
And my sense is that the cuts that have been proposed would
really impair what you are trying to do. We are going to do
what we can do to make sure that you don't have to deal with
Thank you, Madam Secretary.
Chairman Kline. I thank the gentleman.
Mr. DesJarlais. Good morning, and thank you for being here.
It was great that you bring us good news, at the beginning
of the hearing, that we have 600,000 new jobs to report. Can
you tell me how many of those were private-sector and how many
Secretary Solis. I would tell you that, on the payroll
survey, we reported that there were about 50,000 jobs. And that
is based on the payroll figures.
The household survey that I am talking about, the 600,000,
are actual calls that the Bureau of Labor Statistics makes in a
week and they call into different households. And what happens
there is we are finding that people are attesting to their
self-employment. That is, they gave up on an employer hiring
them, and they are starting their own business.
That is why I think it is also important to make sure that
we have training available so people can start up their
businesses legitimately and know how to do it and have a
business plan and understand what the tax structures are.
But, secondly, I would say that what we are finding also is
that those 600,000 people came on-line, in terms of having
jobs. They weren't employed before. Some of them also had two
jobs. You find that there are people that had, say, a second
job during the holidays, working at a department store, they
gave up that job and now are working full-time at the job that
pays them a lot better salary.
Mr. DesJarlais. Okay.
Secretary Solis. So we are seeing that transition that is
occurring right now. Some of that will play itself out as we go
through and readjust our numbers. And every month they have
actually been going up when they are readjusted, almost 10,000
to 20,000 jobs additionally, that were lost originally when
they were not calculated, that now get put back in by the BLS.
Mr. DesJarlais. Okay. Thank you.
Turning to MSHA, recently a media outlet examined a
December 22nd, 2010, MSHA press release highlighting 22 impact
inspections. In the release, Assistant Secretary Main was
quoted saying, ``MSHA's impact inspection program is helping to
reduce the number of mines that consider egregious violation
records a cost of doing business.''
At least two of the mines were erroneously placed on the
list, which MSHA attributed to coding and clerical errors. If
the Department believes that regulation by shaming is one way
to achieve workplace safety, what is the Department prepared to
do when it makes mistakes like this?
Secretary Solis. I would say that what we have attempted,
under our Assistant Secretary there, Joe Main, is to really
take a good view at where those most egregious coal-mine
operators are and try to get to those places, so that we can
also give those folks, the operators, information about what
safety plans they have in place, where we see hazards, and try
to prevent that.
We actually have a new tool that is available. We call it
the pre-contest safety tool. And what it allows is for cases to
be settled in a preconference mode before there are actual
penalties or citations issued. And that is a good tool that is
just coming about because of what happened at the Upper Big
Branch explosion, where 29 miners were killed last year, April
Mr. DesJarlais. How many people work for MSHA?
Secretary Solis. I would say we about roughly maybe 400. I
could be off, give or take. But it is not as big an agency as
you would think. But they are working more strategically.
Mr. DesJarlais. Does the agency fund itself with its fines
that are levied?
Secretary Solis. Those fines help to provide for--I would
have to get back to you, to give you how that breakdown is.
Mr. DesJarlais. Okay. I have had some complaints from my
district that that occurs, and sometimes they actually have
said what they see is kind of a good-cop/bad-cop-type
situation, where an agent will come in and they will say,
``Well, you know, I am the easy guy.'' And they will only fine
him a little bit. But when you get the guy next week, he is
tough, and he will fine them a lot. So, you know, if that is
true, that may not be the greatest policy, at least in terms of
Do you know, when there is an accident like the one you
spoke of in Virginia, does MSHA view that as a failure on
themselves, or is it always the mine's fault when you have a
Secretary Solis. Well, I could only speak to the time that
I have been on board and as long as my Assistant Secretary has
been in place there. And what we have attempted to do, as I
said, is really go out and do these impact studies to look at
the more egregious mines, but also trying to extend more
information to those other mines, the metal mines also, that--
Mr. DesJarlais. Excuse me, I am sorry to interrupt. I know
we are running out of time. Have we seen a pretty significant
decrease in accidents, mining safety records over the past
decade with intervention?
Secretary Solis. I would is say that, over the course of
the last 2 years, that we have helped to provide more
prevention. Because I believe there is that culture that is
changing, in fact, because of what happened at the Upper Big
Branch. I believe that more mines are being more proactive.
And we are trying to standardize what our inspectors do, as
well, so you don't have that incident that you said, where
someone comes in one day and charges a fine that is less or
higher. We want conformity, and so we are doing our very best
to make sure that all our field investigators have the best
training and that we are working with industry to do that.
There are a lot of good actors out there, and we want their
stories to be told, as well.
Mr. DesJarlais. Thank you for your time.
Chairman Kline. I thank the gentleman.
Ms. Woolsey, you are recognized.
Ms. Woolsey. Thank you very much.
In response, Madam Secretary, to what happens with the OSHA
and MSHA fines, it is my understanding that these fines go
directly into the U.S. Treasury and the agencies do not even
And I would like to say as an aside, the fines are so
minimal, they wouldn't have covered anything anyway, unless we
brought those fines into the 21st century.
Well, what a relief it is to have you here with us,
Secretary Solis, and have you at the helm of the Labor
Department, a department that is responsible for fairness and
safety for workers--and, by the way, responsible for supporting
businesses, because you are so obviously dedicated to improving
and making sense out of the concerns of our workers and our
employers regarding work-life concerns and regulations. Thank
you very much. You have brought some clarity to us today.
I thought and I felt really confident in the last Congress
that we were on our way to bringing OSHA and MSHA into the 21st
century, working with your department and with the House and
the Senate. But now, and particularly this week when we are
debating the Republican continuing resolution in the House, I
fear that these spending cuts that we have been talking about,
most of us, this morning would have an absolutely devastating
effect, particularly on the health and safety of our workers.
I don't know how we can bring OSHA into the 21st century if
we don't have the wherewithal to make it happen. In fact, my
concern is that we may be backing ourselves into the early 20th
century and we will have gone nowhere by the end of this
So, in order to maybe make me feel better, if you can
possibly--some of the issues we were working on last year, and
we learned so much in our hearings and we got such good input
from outside of the Congress and from the Department of Labor--
where can we go with bringing OSHA into the 21st century and
enacting a more vigorous law to protect our workers?
Where are we going with the misclassification of
independent contract workers, so we can level the playing field
for the employers that actually play by the rules?
And how are the mine safety laws coming into effect?
I mean, is there a way we can do this? One, if we don't cut
your budget 40 percent? I mean, that is the obvious answer. We
can't do that. But how are we going--can we work together in a
bipartisan way to make these things happen?
Secretary Solis. Congresswoman Woolsey, I think at the
beginning of my statement I said that I am willing to work
across the aisle to achieve the goals to help provide for a
recovery, but also underscoring the importance of having worker
safety and protections in place.
It is going to be difficult, given the proposals that have
been presented by the Congress to cut back so dramatically. I
hope that we can come to some agreement on what should be done.
And I do believe that the path that we are going down with
respect to MSHA, all the success that this committee has had--I
mean, we had an on-site hearing out in West Virginia after the
Upper Big Branch mine explosion, and I thought there was a good
level of discussion, hearing not only from people that were in
the industry but also some of the causes of that.
And I think that it is the job of the Congress to help us
move legislation so that we can rectify where there are
problems, where we have violators that actually skirt the law
and are able to game the system and, thus, create a bigger
backlog. And they contest many of those violations. We never
are able to get to them. In fact, we got assistance from you,
the Congress, to have a supplemental fund to help address that
backlog, but I am here to tell you that, even with that, it is
not enough. And if we cut that back, then it will eliminate the
casework that we are doing even now, as it reflects the ongoing
investigation with the Upper Big Branch.
So there are consequences to what we do. I would hope that
we could work with the chairman here and also with folks in the
Senate that are interested in addressing MSHA.
And then, secondly, on the misclassification, there are
scores and scores of details about how people are not
appropriately told that they are misclassified. They find out
perhaps at the end of the tax period or they find out when they
are injured that they have not been receiving appropriate
information so they could make those adjustments to have
health-care coverage or to know who is paying in for their
workers' compensation if they get injured on the job.
We know that this is something that goes across all
industries, misclassification. And it hurts because it doesn't
provide the type of revenues that the Federal Government and
State governments are robbed of that help to provide these
structured programs that help to keep people safe and provide
assistance that people so sorely need. So that is a big
initiative on our part.
And I would just say, with Wage and Hour, it would
devastate if there are further potential cuts there, because we
done such, I think, a good job in targeting, with the limited
resources, to go after those industries where we know there are
the most egregious violators and people that really do need to
have the information. It isn't just going after the business;
it is also empowering the employees to understand what rights
and protections they have in place.
Chairman Kline. The gentlelady's time has expired.
Mr. Rokita. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Thank you, Secretary, for coming.
Dr. Bucshon, my friend to my right here, and I are both
from Indiana. We are very concerned about MSHA and some mining
regulations. I would like to, Mr. Chairman, yield a minute of
my time to Dr. Bucshon.
Mr. Bucshon. Thank you, Madam Secretary, for coming.
I am concerned about MSHA's proposed regulation concerning
respirable coal dust. To give you a little background, my
father was a united mineworker for 37 years in an underground
coal mine. Both of my grandparents were coal miners. I
understand exposure risks, and I also understand that--I am a
physician, and I see a lot of patients with workplace-related
respiratory problems, some of which are, to put it bluntly,
their own issue because they refused to wear safety equipment,
regardless of whether there were regulations in place to do so
My understanding is that this potential regulation may cost
the industry about a billion dollars. And I would like to know,
since the stakeholders requested the data that you used to
establish this and were denied that information, what are the
assumptions that MSHA made in coming up with this new
regulation, when, from my perspective as a medical physician
and understanding the coal industry, I don't see what the
really big push for regulating this was at this time?
The other thing to know is, in a coal mine, most of the
exposure is not actually to coal dust but it is to silica dust
because of rock dusting of the coal mine walls.
So I would like you to comment on the assumptions and why
you guys feel like that this is something that needs to be in
Thank you. I yield back.
Secretary Solis. Thank you, Congressman.
I would just refer you back to a promise that was made 40
years ago by the passage of the Federal Coal Mine Health Act
that was passed in 1969 to eradicate black lung disease. And
what we are finding is that it kills hundreds of miners, and
former miners each year are severely impacted and impaired. And
we are also finding that there is a rise even amongst young
miners. So there is cause for concern.
We know that we have to work with industry, and we
certainly want to hear their comments. I am not opposed to
that. But I would tell you that I think that black lung disease
is one that has not been dealt with by this Congress for many
years. And we believe that now is the time to act and to work
as best we can with the industry.
I don't recall hearing this figure that you threw out, but
I will certainly get back with my Assistant Secretary, Joe
Main, and ask him to come and speak with you directly to tell
you about exactly how we arrived at----
Mr. Rokita. Thank you, Madam Secretary. I appreciate that.
Reclaiming some of my time, do you plan to make the underlying
assumptions available to the industry?
Secretary Solis. I will discuss this with my Assistant
Secretary, Joe Main. And we can have that discussion, surely,
with you and the other congressmen here.
Mr. Rokita. When can you get back with me on that decision?
Secretary Solis. I will get back to you once I speak to my
Assistant Secretary and we arrive at what parameters we can
Mr. Rokita. I know. Can you give me a day or time frame? A
week, a month? How long before you think I would hear on your
decision on whether or not you are going to make your
underlying assumptions public?
Secretary Solis. I have to ask my Assistant Secretary
when--I mean, we can certainly push this as soon as we can. I
will make that commitment to you.
Mr. Rokita. A week?
Secretary Solis. Can't put me on record for that because
I--you know, I----
Mr. Rokita. I mean, how long does it take to talk to
someone that works under you?
Secretary Solis. It doesn't take that long.
Mr. Rokita. Okay. So maybe----
Secretary Solis. I am not trying to shy away from----
Mr. Rokita. So just give me a time frame. A week, a month?
I know it is Washington, D.C., and all, but just some time
Secretary Solis. Give me at least 10 working days.
Mr. Rokita. Thank you very much.
The number-one focus of the administration, according to
the President, is jobs. I know you are a fan of card check. It
doesn't appear--and I stand to be corrected, but it doesn't
appear card check is going to get through this Congress.
What is your position on card check? Do you intend to
implement elements of card check through the administration or
Secretary Solis. I don't have the authority to do that
through regulation. And, as it stands, my priorities are to,
again, look at job creation and worker safety and protection in
Mr. Rokita. Okay. Thank you.
You mentioned that we need new mining regulations, when you
testified, because people have died, unfortunately. From that,
can I assume that MSHA enforced the current law perfectly and
that no mining interests violated the current law, therefore
needing new law?
Secretary Solis. I would tell you that what we found is
that there has been a history where there are operators who
have been able to game the system because of the way that the
violations are set up, that they can be contested. And so there
tends to be a backlog of those contested violations, where we
can't really move forward. We don't have all the tools that we
need in place to actually come down and say, ``Wait, stop,
halt,'' and really have, I think, the support that we need from
the operator at that time.
So that is why we need additional legislation, additional
tools, so that we do understand and that we work with industry
on this. There are a lot of good actors who want to see
And, certainly, my agenda is not to put people out of
business. I understand how important the coal-mining and the
mining industry is to this country. But we also want to make
sure that people, at the end of the day, can go home after
their shift, and hopefully that we have compliance by those
miners. And that is what we are attempting to do.
And our program agenda really is to go out and start to
talk to people. MSHA, in the past, I didn't think really did a
good job of working with the operators on both sides, the coal
and the metal mines. And that is something that is equally
important to us, as well.
So I would urge my Assistant Secretary--I mean, it is not a
problem. We will make available time to see you and talk with
you and to answer any further questions that you might have.
Mr. Rokita. That wasn't my last question, but thank you. I
am out of time.
Chairman Kline. The gentleman's time has expired.
Mr. Hinojosa. Thank you, Chairman Kline and Ranking Member
In this economic climate, it is imperative that our Nation
create jobs, protect the rights of American workers, and
prepare youth and adults for family-sustaining jobs. I am very
pleased that we have Secretary Hilda Solis before us, that we
can address some of the critical issues that concern me.
Let the record show that I am very concerned and very
disappointed that the Republican-proposed budget for the
continuing resolution contains over $3 billion of cuts that
zeros out our State and local workforce development system.
Madam Secretary, in your testimony, you mentioned the need
to reauthorize WIA. Can you elaborate on why we should update
the WIA that we reauthorized back in 1998 and should have been
reauthorized 6 years later?
We must move forward to improve our Nation's youth work
development and adult education system in the 112th Congress.
And I ask you to tell us and elaborate on why we should do it
and how you recommend that we do it as expeditiously as
Secretary Solis. Thank you, Congressman Hinojosa.
It is a pleasure to be working with you again. I know, last
year, we had many discussions on the reauthorization of WIA,
and I hope that this committee will be able to work together in
a bipartisan effort, as the Senate has. They have been working
on legislation this past year. Our staff has been able to
provide technical assistance to both Senator Murray, Senator
Harkin, as well as Senator Isakson, and all those who are
interested in this discussion.
I would hope that the urgency of looking at how we can make
this program more effective is a priority for the Department of
Labor. So we are ready and immediately available to help
provide whatever technical assistance to both sides of the
aisle so that we can get at resolving some of the problems and
the hearsay that you hear about duplication of programs.
We realize this program hasn't been reauthorized for some 8
to 10 years. Now is the time to act, now is the time to work on
a bipartisan level so that we can very much target and be more
effective and strategic and streamlined and get to those
industries that need workers right away.
So the urgency is now, is to have this done. And I look
forward to your leadership. I know you have been involved with
this for a long time.
And with respect to safety and protection of workers, you
and I know that, on an average, about 12 Latino workers lose
their life every week--every week. And a majority of that is in
the construction industry. That is why our department of OSHA,
as well as Wage and Hour, held a summit in Texas, where we drew
about a thousand individuals--business community folks,
employees, employers, faith-based groups--to talk about how we
could provide protections in that vulnerable population.
Since that time, we have seen more participation on the
part of industry. And we hope to provide more assistance to
them through our compliance programs and some of our other
efforts that we offer through OSHA, as well as through Wage and
Mr. Hinojosa. Going back to the first part of my question,
on WIA, I understand that the administration and you, as our
Secretary of Labor, have thought out of the box and are talking
about helping us think regionally instead of just the small
As an example, where I come from in deep south Texas, we
have a workforce group in McAllen working with the county next
to it, in Starr County. But the regionalization that you all
talk about is one that is much broader, that possibly brings
two Members of Congress, or three or more, to work together so
that we can train individuals and help them get to where the
job is--engineering, science, technology, all those jobs.
Tell us how you envision that this type of regionalization
that you mentioned in one of my talks with you could be done
and put into WIA.
Secretary Solis. Well, I think that what we are really
looking at here is bringing together a better partnership that
really is driven by the business community and what is being
offered and what is available in that particular region.
So, as an example, in Detroit or Michigan, where you have a
large number of people who have been dislocated because the
automobile industry is no longer there, many of those skill
sets that are there from those dislocated workers can be
retooled and looking towards renewable energy, solar panel
installation, or lithium battery manufacturing. We are already
finding that that is happening in places around the country.
So we are looking to see what is generated from the region.
And if we can get States to partner, that is a great idea. We
are looking at funding----
Mr. Hinojosa. Forgive me for interrupting you, because my
time is up. Can we work with the community colleges and
universities and the business community to maybe go after large
amounts of money that could help us train and put them into
those good-paying jobs?
Chairman Kline. Can I ask that the Secretary respond for
the record? The gentleman's time has expired.
Mr. Hinojosa. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman Kline. Mrs. Noem?
Mrs. Noem. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
And thank you, Madam Secretary, for being here.
I know the chairman has covered a topic that I had a
question about, so I would just like to make a comment on that.
And if you have something to add, you certainly could, but then
I would like to follow up with another question.
So, you know, the President's budget has been in the
headlines over the past several days. And from what I have
found, comparing it to previous years' budgets, the Department
of Labor's enforcement agencies are certainly--the majority, or
the vast majority of them are receiving increases, some of them
quite large, except for one, which is the Office of Labor-
Management Standards, which you know receives unions.
For example, the Wage and Hour's total budget is increasing
from fiscal year 2010 to fiscal year 2012 by 15.5 percent. The
OFCCP's budget will increase by 3.8 percent. And then also,
when you go to the EBSA's, theirs will increase 26.4 percent.
However, OLMS's budget will decrease by 8 percent.
So this is concerning to me because the OLMS has remained
the same while the number of staff in the division has
declined. And I would like to you elaborate a little bit on
that, on why this divergence in enforcement funding
specifically just for this one area that oversees--and then I
would like to follow up with a different question.
Secretary Solis. Well, I would just reflect that our
budget, actually, for the Department of Labor is a reduction of
about 5 percent. The President did ask for all of us to look
within, where we could get rid of programs or remove them from
And one that I would just want to talk to you briefly about
really has to do with taking funds from the current, existing
job-training programs and putting up a new effort, what we are
calling an innovation fund, where we can look to experiment and
audit and evaluate where we have inconsistencies and where we
can make our programs that are doing green jobs, youth build
programs, Job Corps programs, dislocated worker programs, to
really do some more finite evaluation of that.
That is going to be an evaluation tool, and we are doing it
also in partnership with the Department of Education. So that
is a new thing that is happening. It is not new moneys,
necessarily, but it is taking from other pools and directing
With the OLMS, I would say again, restate for the record
that it is the level playing field again. We are looking at the
same level of funding, but we are actually asking them to be
more strategic in terms of their auditing, their investigations
and convictions. And a lot of that, as I have already
testified, has gone up. So we are going after the bad actors,
and we are doing our best to go into elections where we see
that there are improprieties, as well.
Mrs. Noem. Could I follow up with you on that? Per the
levels of funding for these enforcement agencies, was that per
your request to the President, at the levels that you
specifically would like to see them at?
Secretary Solis. I would say to you that all of us are
looking at, in particular, how we can become more efficient,
become also very consciously aware that we have to address the
deficit. So all of us had to make some changes.
And there are some programs that will no longer be under--
one program, in particular, that deals with--a senior
employment program that will be sent over to the Department of
Aging in HHS, where it is more appropriately housed, so people
that need additional help, counseling and things, can be
offered that assistance. That program is going away, and that
is a significant amount.
Mrs. Noem. Okay. Thank you.
On a separate issue, I have just a quick question.
President Obama also issued a memorandum on January 18th of
this year, noting his intent to eliminate excessive and
unjustified regulatory burdens on businesses. So, on the same
day, your department issued a new rule that some small
businesses noted extremely burdensome by artificially
increasing the wages of H2B workers without regard to economic
reality. So, seasonal industries of all kinds throughout this
country have sent a letter to the President, noting the rule's
departure from that commitment and raising their concerns.
I would like you to comment on that, specifically if you
recognize that letter has been sent and what your opinion would
be as to this burdensome----
Secretary Solis. Well, we were also attempting to address a
lawsuit that was brought against the Department of Labor for
holding up these regs, in particular those salaries. So we are
moving ahead. We know that--we are not going to be making those
changes this year. We have actually put them off.
Mrs. Noem. Okay. Thank you. Thank you for your answer.
Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.
Chairman Kline. I thank the gentlelady.
Mr. Tierney. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Madam Secretary, nice to have you with us. I appreciated
having you as a colleague, and I am proud of the job that you
are doing in your new position.
I particularly had the pleasure of working with you on
authoring the Green Jobs Act and enacting that, as well. And we
were both pleased, I think, when the Recovery Act put in $750
million for competitive grants for high-growth industries,
training and job work there. Five hundred million dollars of
that, of course, was targeted to the Green Jobs Act.
Now, you told me, or your staff, I guess, told our staff,
that when the solicitations for grant applications went out on
the green jobs, it actually received between double and triple
the response compared to solicitations of a similar size.
Secretary Solis. Uh-huh.
Mr. Tierney. I see that reflected in my district alone,
where the interest was very, very high on that.
And I know some, you know, want to eliminate it altogether,
you know, think that not enough people have gone to work quick
enough. Apparently they wanted 1 day's training and a job the
But I wondered if you would go into a little bit of detail,
tell us what the facts are on that and the success of that
Secretary Solis. Well, I want to congratulate you,
Congressman, for spearheading that legislation, as well. We
worked very closely with this committee and with, I know,
Congressman Miller on that, as well. And that was signed by a
Republican President, George Bush, in 2007.
Mr. Tierney. Amazing.
Secretary Solis. I could see that the fruits of our
investment are paying off. And, in fact, I think, because we
have taken that bold step, that the industry is responding, and
they are actually telling us that they would like to have more
individuals that are fully skilled and trained; therefore, the
need to continue this effort.
I was reading in the National Journal, there was a study by
the Pew Charitable Trust that, even going back as far as 2007,
there were already 770,000 jobs created in the clean energy
industry and more than 68,000 businesses that are going in that
In my State of California, the employment development
department also said just recently that a million jobs were
created in the clean energy sector. And this is positive,
because I think that is a motivator for more people, businesses
and community colleges, as well as our partners, to utilize our
Given the fact that we are going to have some moneys
available through the TAA program and the community colleges,
that is another way of helping to expand our effort and our
reach, so that we really do home in on what the smaller
industries--particularly, I am concerned about the small
business, that they also have an appropriate level of trained
We have some people here that are representing our Job
Corps program from Woodland. Every Job Corps program since I
started as Secretary has to provide curriculum on green jobs,
so they are also getting a dose of that training and exposure.
Some of them have already been given job offers, in some cases.
But, nonetheless, it is something that it is, I find, very
refreshing for people to hear, that they can make the
transition from, say, a welding job to now someone who has,
with additional training, got into welding and providing
support for a wind turbine. And up in your part of the country,
that is a big demand, and that industry continues to grow.
And we are being outcompeted, quite frankly, by our friends
in China and other countries. So we need to have a capable
workforce. Business needs to know that they can rely on a
trained workforce, so they can make that account in their
budget and make it possible.
Mr. Tierney. I suspect it is not different in other
districts. In my district, the biggest champions of the
Workforce Investment Act and boards are employers, businesses
in particular, small businesses who participate in that.
I am struck by the recklessness of an effort to cut $3
billion out of our job-training program, just what that would
do to devastate the One-Stop shops, what it would do for youth
worker programs, some 250,000 youth affected by that. You are
talking about young people getting an opportunity; that is gone
if we take this kind of reckless action on that. It just goes
on and on.
But, you know, tell me about an individual whom I met in my
district, a 58-year-old gentleman who lost his job--first time
he has been unemployed for an extensive period of time. First,
he held on, thinking he was going to get the same job back.
Then it became clear that is not going to happen. Now he is
getting some education and training so he can get back into the
workforce. Found out he had prostate cancer, dealt with that.
You know, if we take $3 billion out and decimate the
workforce investment boards and all of that, where does a
fellow like that go to get his life started again, to build
back his ability to sustain his family?
Secretary Solis. It becomes very hard, especially when we
still have 14 million people that are out of work, and more
than half have been off of work for more than 6 months to close
to a year. And many of them, quite frankly, half of them have
just above a high school education. It is no longer acceptable
just to have a high school education. You have to have more
training certificates, and you also should have the ability,
when made available, the ability to go to a community college.
That is why the TAA program that we are rolling out is so
important--the need to underscore that we want more people to
get that certification, because that is the first thing I hear
from the business community: ``Secretary, we don't have enough
people that meet the needs of what I need in my particular
business.'' And it is about having high-tech capability. It is
about having people that have adaptable skills and understand
how to be flexible, also, with respect to their training.
And for the dislocated worker that you just described, it
is very typical of what we are seeing across the country. And
it is going to take more time, more training to get them up to
speed, to get them ready and accessible for, say, a new place
Mr. Tierney. Thank you.
Chairman Kline. The gentleman's time has expired.
Mr. Ross. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Madam Secretary, one of the things that I have seen--and if
you were responsible for this, I want to thank you--and that is
a rescission of the MSDS, or the musculoskeletal disorders,
provision last month. Because, to me, it creates not only an
unduly burden on employers, but it also may give rise to other
causes of actions--inside the ADA, in tort law. And, as you
know, employers are strictly liable under workers' compensation
laws, regardless of fault.
And so, under the MSD, when a Log 300 is filed out and they
have to report these repetitive trauma injuries or conditions,
then they are essentially guilty until they can prove that
there is no causal relationship. That was rescinded, but I
think what is important is not so much that it was rescinded
but that it took so long for OSHA to consult with the small-
Are there other regulations that we can anticipate that
might be of such egregious nature that are on the forefront of
Secretary Solis. Congressman, what I would say is that we
withdrew those two regs that you spoke about. One had to deal
with noise, as well.
What we are doing, as I said, is we are consulting with the
small-business advocacy office there to make sure that we do a
thorough analysis and we get all the comments that are
necessary. And then at a time which is appropriate, those regs
may come back or they may not. It depends, quite frankly, on
what the staff that are looking at all the comments and the----
Mr. Ross. But wouldn't you agree that there should be a
closer representative between those impacted by the regulations
Secretary Solis. We absolutely need to hear from everybody,
all the stakeholders, including those people that are injured.
Mr. Ross. Would you agree that probably one of the best
things that we can do to recover from this recessionary period
that we have been in is to have the creation of sustainable
Secretary Solis. I believe that we--we need to have
partners with the private industry, with the business sector.
And in all of our partnerships, regardless of what is said, we
do partner with the business community. They have to be a part
of our workforce investment funds and----
Mr. Ross. But getting the private capital in the market to
create jobs is a necessary function of a recovery, wouldn't you
Secretary Solis. Well, I would agree that what the
President did last December to allow for tax breaks and credits
for entrepreneurs, I hope, to begin to make that adjustment to
hire people up will be an incentive. The tax credits that were
given alone, I think, is one part of it, one part of the
solution, but we definitely need to do more.
Mr. Ross. Two years ago today, the President signed into
law the stimulus package. And as we look back over the last 2
years, we still have 9 percent unemployment. We have seen a
greater creation of Federal jobs than we have seen in private-
sector jobs. It has not been, I think, the panacea that those
who supported it at the time thought it would be.
In your opinion, do you think that the stimulus plan has
been a success or a failure?
Secretary Solis. I think the Recovery Act money actually
helped to prevent 3 million people from losing their job, where
unemployment would have been much higher.
If you recall, last October we had an unemployment rate
above 10 percent. It has now dropped----
Mr. Ross. To 9 percent.
Secretary Solis [continuing]. To 9 percent. And what we
have seen in the last year is that we have created 1.1 million
private-sector jobs. I am not talking about public sector; I am
talking about private sector.
Mr. Ross. The public sector has----
Secretary Solis. That is the first time that we saw an
increase in private-sector jobs than we did in the last 2 and 3
years, even before this President took office.
Mr. Ross. You know, as a consumer, I am sure that you
choose to buy that which you find to be the best product at the
best price. In other words, competition does have its benefits
to the consumer. And the more choices you have as a consumer,
the better price and, I think, the better market you can have.
When we look at project labor agreements, we are
essentially shunning away a marketplace environment to allow
for nonunion contractors to hire nonunion labor at a better
price to be just as effective and, yet, save money.
Wouldn't you agree that we need to revisit the project
labor agreements and allow for a market wage, as opposed to a
union wage, in the implementation of these contracts?
Secretary Solis. Well, I would beg to differ with you. I
think that many successful project labor agreements have been
created and instituted by the private sector. In fact, Toyota
has been one of those proponents of project labor agreements,
as have other major industries, as well.
What we are finding is that the costs are actually, in many
cases, lower. You find agreements both with labor and
management. They are able to come to agreement on what the
timelines are and trying to minimize any labor disputes that
might occur during the life of that contract.
And, actually, that is something that I think helps to
incentivize the local community to hire local, so that we can
address that big issue of unemployment that you talked about.
Mr. Ross. But it does favor union labor as opposed to
nonunion labor, wouldn't you agree?
Secretary Solis. I think that it isn't just labor. There
are many opportunities for different segments of the community
to be a part of that PLA.
Mr. Ross. One last question. You spoke about the Employee
Free Choice Act, and I agree with you, I don't think that that
is something that can be implemented by way of regulatory rule.
But, in your opinion, would you support the Employee Free
Choice Act as----
Secretary Solis. The President and I agree that collective
bargaining should be a right. But whether or not there are
votes to change that, currently I don't see that happening in
at least the near future.
Mr. Ross. I see my time is up.
Chairman Kline. I thank the gentleman.
Mr. Holt. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Madam Secretary, it certainly was a pleasure to serve with
you in this body, and it is a pleasure to see you at work in
Let me touch quickly on four points.
First of all, I wanted to applaud you and Assistant
Secretary Oates for tying the WIA to public libraries. Public
libraries are so important for people to get the job training
and connect to jobs. And I would like to you keep us informed
on how that effort is going.
Secondly, you spoke to Ms. Biggert about her concern to get
better investment information and education in your
coordination with the Securities and Exchange Commission. I
hope you will keep me informed, along with Ms. Biggert, on that
Secretary Solis. Certainly.
Mr. Holt. With regard to OSHA, which, you know, 40 years
ago, New Jersey Senator Pete Williams helped to enact OSHA. And
I am just--I can't emphasize too strongly the importance that
OSHA has. There are millions of Americans who have their arms,
legs, eyesight, and even lives--and they don't know who they
are--they have those because of OSHA, but they don't know that
those were saved because of OSHA.
You know I have been a big proponent of reinstituting the
Office of Technology Assessment, this important congressional
agency. Before OTA was defunded, it did a review of OSHA, quite
a detailed review. And it came out with quite positive
conclusions about the effectiveness of it, about the
methodology and analytical priorities, and even about the cost
burden that OSHA imposes.
I think it is time for an update on this, whether it is
done through the GAO or otherwise. I would like to talk with
you about how we might update that. Because I am sure the
results will be useful in actually making the case for how
important OSHA is to keep going.
And then, fourth, I just wanted to mention the legislation
that Representative Petri and I introduced in this Congress,
the Lifetime Income Disclosure Act, which will help workers
prepare for retirement by providing them with information about
how their savings will address their monthly living expenses on
And I know, last year, the Departments of Labor and
Treasury held a well-publicized request for information on
lifetime income. And I think this is a good way to go, and I
wanted to ask you how Congress should be working with the
Department on this issue.
Secretary Solis. Well, your last question, Congressman--we
are very interested in working with you. We know that there are
different populations that are affected with respect to how
they save and what information they get or they don't get. And,
typically, a widow, for example, may have had a work situation
where she may not have had 20 or 30 years in the workplace
because she had to take care of her family and now finds
herself in a situation where she doesn't have adequate
retirement funds that she should have known earlier to set
aside in some way. And there are tools to do that.
So, through our offices of EBSA, Phyllis Borzi, I believe,
has done a really great job in making sure that we provide as
much information, as much transparency and options, so that
individual, consumers can make better decisions about what they
Typically, in some cases, when someone retires and they
want to tap into that fund, it may not be wise to get a lump
sum at one time. They may need to have it staggered. As you
know, that is a very important part of managing one's budget in
that particular situation, when people are living off that one
last amount of funds that is going to keep them going for a few
So it is so deeply important, and it is something that we
care very much about. We want to work with you on that.
With respect to OSHA, as you know, if OSHA wasn't in place,
I think we would have a much higher rate of injury. And because
of OSHA and the passage back in 1970--and they are going to be
celebrating their 40th anniversary, as well--we have been able
to see reductions of 65 percent in occupational injury and
illness. And that has been a tremendous factor that has helped
keep people on the job, keep them safe, and to also minimize
disturbances that might have occurred with their employer,
bankruptcy or what have you, because someone was injured or
someone was killed.
Mr. Holt. Thank you.
Chairman Kline. I thank the gentleman. The gentleman's time
Let me note, the Secretary and I talked before the hearing
about what time we would wrap up. It looks to me like we have
about 15 or 20 minutes more of questions, which would take us
to about 12:15. Is that all right? Something like that?
Okay, thank you very much.
Mr. Thompson, you are recognized.
Mr. Thompson. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Madam Secretary, thanks for coming today, for your
testimony and your response to questions.
It is probably appropriate--I represent Punxsutawney,
Pennsylvania--because I feel like I am caught up somewhat in
the movie ``Groundhog Day.'' It was about a year ago, February
2010, you were here, and we had a discussion about project
labor agreements. And I had mentioned a new construction
project for a Job Corps center in Manchester, New Hampshire,
that was subject to the PLA. And then, mysteriously, Department
of Labor canceled the solicitation for bids in November of
I also drew a comparison between that project labor
agreement that was imposed on a contract in my home State of
Pennsylvania, when Governor Rendell required a PLA for Rockview
State Prison. Yet again, no one bid, and the project was put on
The Obama administration contends that PLAs control cost
factors, and the President put forth an Executive order
encouraging PLAs. However, in areas like New Hampshire and
Pennsylvania, this removes about 85 percent of the eligible
firms from bidding.
Madam Secretary, I would rather not revisit the past, but
last February our 5 minutes ran out before you actually
answered my question. It was asked by then-Chairman Miller that
you would follow up in writing, and, well, we are still
waiting. That is the ``Groundhog Day'' part.
So I want to come back to that question from a year ago.
Why was the New Hampshire project put on hold?
And, secondly, since there have been PLAs successfully
challenged in other cases, most recently in Pennsylvania, a VA
center in the Pittsburgh area last December, has the
administration begun to reconsider Executive Order 135022?
Secretary Solis. Well, Congressman, I would just say to you
again that we believe that PLAs actually help to bring down the
costs and provide conformity.
With respect to withdrawing the Job Corps New Hampshire,
that bid is actually--we wanted to take more comments. We felt
that we didn't do a sufficient job in making sure that we had
actually provided more opportunity for people to make comments
and to be a part of that process. So we realized----
Mr. Thompson. Was there any implication----
Secretary Solis [continuing]. That we had to bring that
Mr. Thompson. Was there a similar experience at all in
Pennsylvania, where, frankly, I mean, 85 percent of the
eligible companies in Pennsylvania--I know that is a State
project, but it was a PLA--chose not to bid. It really
excluded, frankly, all of the workforce. I think, in central
Pennsylvania, companies 3 hours away that were totally union
that would have bid. It drove the costs up, and even Governor
Rendell saw the perils of that.
Secretary Solis. Well, I can't really comment on what the
State is doing because we don't----
Mr. Thompson. Well, I know that. But I am asking, what are
the experiences in New Hampshire with the Job Corps?
Secretary Solis. I don't think--I can't go into detail
because I don't know all the particulars about the State
Mr. Thompson. Okay, well, if you wouldn't mind, we have
been waiting a year. You know, an Under Secretary or someone,
if you could have them, like, within 2 weeks get back to me.
Secretary Solis. Absolutely. I apologize.
Mr. Thompson [continuing]. This is obviously very important
I had the opportunity--and one of the things I wanted to--
we have done some things on mine safety, obviously, in the
111th Congress. And one of the things that I know that has been
added--there was a Pittsburgh office that was opened for the
Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission, you know, I
think as part of the effort to address the backlog. And I think
the cases were around 10,000, or something like that, in the
backlog queue. And, frankly, I think there are some creative
things going on there. They are trying to get retired judges.
They have staffed up to about 20 judges is my understanding,
and using some retired folks and some part-time.
The issue of backlog at the Mine Safety and Health Review
Commission certainly has been highlighted through those
hearings, as I said. Do you believe that MSHA's pilot
conference program is working to relieve that backlog at all?
Secretary Solis. Well, we just started it. And I do believe
that it is making a difference. And I had a discussion with our
Assistant Secretary, Joe Main, about it just last week to find
out how that is coming along, because I am very interested in
finding out how we are able to prevent us from having to go out
and cite different operators.
So I believe the more we do that and we engage, we give
people information up front--and I know that Joe has traveled
all over the country to make sure that we reach out to the
associations. And they have been very supportive, especially in
the metal mines, in particular. They seem to be very receptive
So I am very open to seeing that happen, and I would love
to have my Assistant Secretary stop by and see you and give you
a preview of what we are doing and what our intent is.
Mr. Thompson. Thank you.
Secretary Solis. I will make sure we get back to you. Thank
Mr. Thompson. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman Kline. I thank the gentleman.
Mrs. Davis. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Secretary, good to see you.
I am sorry that I wasn't able to be here earlier, and you
may have answered some part of this question, I think, in
talking about veterans. I know recently you had an opportunity
to visit Camp Pendleton and, certainly, to tout the Department
of Labor's strategy of No Veteran Left Behind, and I greatly
Could you elaborate a little bit more on how the Department
of Labor could better work with the Department of Defense?
Because we know that, no matter--I mean, there is quite an
effort going on, and I appreciate the work that has been done
and what you stated in your written statement here. Are there
some disconnects there? How can we be more helpful? How can the
Department of Defense, as well?
The other issue that I think is really critical and, in
speaking to a number of individuals on the boards and working
within the community colleges, we have a number of schools that
have veterans centers but very few, really, to meet the need.
Does the Department of Labor play any role in that? And
would there be a role there in trying to help facilitate so
that our veterans at our community colleges, particularly,
where the need is so critical, have the support system as well
as the training supervision, mentoring that is required there?
Secretary Solis. Thank you, Congresswoman Davis.
We are working with the Department of Defense on a new
effort to revitalize the Transition Assistance Program, known
as TAP. I think you are aware of that. That program has been
around for many, many years, but very little evaluation had
been done in terms of the quality and the service that was
So my Assistant Secretary, Ray Jefferson, has been leading,
for the last year and a half, on helping to revise and expand
and make that program more meaningful, so that it isn't just
dropping information but actually following up at every point,
so that the veteran, whether they are still in the service
waiting to exit or if they are already out of the system, that
there is a way that they can continue to get information about
careers, job training, and other assistance, mental health,
other things that they might need, as well as their family. So
military families are also a part of that component.
And much of it is being funded, actually, out of Department
of Defense, because our budget is very minimal, as you know,
with respect to being able to roll out something that big. But
they have bought into the idea that our office would help to
provide supports to structure this new program.
I am very excited about it, and I think you are going to be
hearing more. And I would love to have my Assistant Secretary
come by and see you.
With respect to community colleges, without a doubt, we
need to coordinate more our veterans programs that we have that
are offered by the State. We actually provide funding that goes
to the States, and they then hire up and place those
individuals throughout the State, usually through our workforce
investment programs, the WIA, or the One-Stop centers.
They need to be collaborating with the community colleges.
There is no reason why we shouldn't be targeting--and I believe
through the TAA program, the new funding that is being offered
to the community colleges. There could be an incentive, there
could be a demonstration project out there somewhere that could
use that funding to actually illustrate how important it is
that those two can connect, the veteran that is coming back
from war, the younger one that actually needs to have several
things going on--counseling, mentoring, but also a rigorous
curriculum that is going to help them make that transition. So
if they want to go into a short-term job or get a certificate
in 6 weeks, they can do it at a community college, or a 2-year
program. So we want to make those seamless for them as best as
But I would love to have the opportunity to talk to you
about that, as well as what we are doing with homeless women
veterans in our initiative to really go out and meet the needs
of these returning veterans. We are finding that there is a
high rate--and you know this--of suicide amongst our young
returning vets, as well as the fact that we are seeing many
women who were in the war, serving in Iraq and Afghanistan,
that are coming back, and you don't see that there are symptoms
per se physically, but you are finding out after that they are
not able to connect back home, to reintegrate. So we are very,
very concerned about that aspect.
And my Women's Bureau is working with our VETS department
to see how we can better conjoin and work with other agencies
to help provide that needed support for these women, in some
cases who have children as well.
Mrs. Davis. Uh-huh. I am really glad to hear that. Because
I think one of the concerns that we have in the community is
that there are a lot of efforts out there, but people don't
necessarily know what is going on, you know, whether it is
right, left, or center. I mean, people just don't understand
the efforts that others are doing. So I think there is a key
role, actually, for the Department of Labor.
Secretary Solis. And, by the way, visiting Camp Pendleton,
the Helmets to Hardhats program was, I think, very essential
for many folks that are getting ready to exit the military.
That happens to be the Marine base there. We are looking to
expand those efforts, I know DOD is, in other major States like
Washington and, I believe, maybe in Georgia, Lejeune, Fort
Mrs. Davis. Great. Thank you.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman Kline. Thank you.
Mr. Platts. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Madam Secretary, good to see you.
Secretary Solis. How are you?
Mr. Platts. Always a pleasure when we served together and
now in your new role--or, not new, but current role.
I have, I guess, two areas of a comment and question, and
they relate to the Office of Labor-Management Standards. And I
share these comments or questions as a former union member,
Teamster union, Local 430, as well as with many family members,
retired union members or current.
First is to associate my comments with the chairman and his
concern about the budget, which shows, I would say, a lack of
additional commitment to the Office of Labor-Management
Standards in comparison to the Bureau of International Labor
Affairs, which is getting about a 10 percent increase under the
proposed budget. Yet, an office that has seen its personnel be
cut by about 16 percent in recent years and is really the main
enforcement office for unions properly disclosing how they are
handling their union members' money--so, first, I associate
myself with the chairman's comments and his concern. I share
them, and think we should be better prioritizing protecting the
labor affairs of American workers before we are increasing
spending on labor elsewhere outside of this country and,
specifically, the Bureau of International Labor Affairs.
My specific question, I guess, is if you can share with me
the logic--you know, the Office of Labor-Management Standards
and the original law of the Labor Management Reporting and
Disclosure Act of 1959 is really about openness and
transparency, that union members know that their funds are
being handled properly by their leadership--a very important
law, now 50-plus years in the works. And there have been
efforts in recent years to strengthen disclosure and greater
transparency--improvements to the LM-2 form, the LM-30 form, a
new requirement, the Form T-1, to really require more
Instead of moving forward with that, what we have seen is
this administration go backwards. My understanding is, as of
October of 2009, the administration announced that they were
rescinding the improvements to the LM-2 form. They announced
also that they would not enforce the changes to the LM-30 form,
and, just in December, published a final rule rescinding the
Form T-1 completely.
I guess I would like to know the logic behind lessening
transparency if we really are serious about protecting union
members and how their money is being handled.
Secretary Solis. Thank you, Congressman Platts.
I would say to you that what we have done is kept the level
of funding consistent. So there really isn't a major increase,
as you state. And I would just say that one of the things we
are doing is also looking at technology----
Mr. Platts. But, Madam Secretary, there is not a major
increase for the Bureau of International Labor Affairs?
Secretary Solis. When you asked me about OLMS, their level
of funding is the same to what it was last year.
Mr. Platts. Right. But if you look at where you are in
several years total, your number of enforcement officers is
down about 16 percent. So instead of trying to, you know,
return some of those enforcement officers that go after misuse
of union dollars, instead we are increasing funding for
Secretary Solis. Well, I would say to you that we have
actually been able to target--more of our improvements that we
have seen is doing more auditing and actually having a higher
rate of conviction and indictments.
And I said earlier, I don't think you were here when I said
it, but back in 2010 we actually started looking at election
investigations. And we actually were able to ramp that up, in
comparison to what happened between 2006 and 2009 before I took
So I would say to you that we are being more targeted. We
are using more transparency in terms of using the computer,
actually, to be able to disclose information much more quickly.
We don't have to have as much, how could I say, emphasis on
getting a lot of paper when a lot of this can be posted and
made available to members.
And we certainly want to go after the bad actors. And I
said earlier that we have some major convictions of folks that
are in the labor movement that were not doing the right things,
and many indictments that were made. So we are not going to
move back on that at all.
Mr. Platts. The effort to crack down and have those
indictments I support, obviously. But I guess--there are two
issues here, and one is transparency. Why rescind the
regulations that were adopted to have more transparency? What
was the decision behind the changes?
Secretary Solis. Congressman, some of the information that
we were already--that we were initially getting from other
forms was duplicative. So we were trying to actually minimize
the amount of information that wasn't necessarily needed. We
are getting it to begin with, so we didn't need to have an
additional paperwork requirement.
So I think that is what we are trying to get at. It is not
that we are excluding information. By all means, we are
actually putting more information up so people can see it and
that members can have that information and knowing fully that
it is going to be available on the Internet.
Mr. Platts. My time is up. I guess my request would be if
you could submit to the committee the examples of duplication
that were in the----
Secretary Solis. Sure.
Mr. Platts [continuing]. LM-2, the LM-30, and the T-1, what
was duplicative that is now not necessary to be acquired, so
that I better understand. Because it doesn't seem logical to
Secretary Solis. I will have our director come and speak
with you directly, as well, John Lund from OLMS.
Chairman Kline. I thank the gentleman. His time has
Mr. Kelly. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
And, Madam Secretary, it is nice to be with you.
I have a concern as a small-business person, myself, and
understanding very much what wage taxes mean. In your
testimony, you said, ``The Department is focused on jobs of the
future. And we also understand that workers who are laid off
cannot wait until the future to get a paycheck. We are doing
everything we can to get workers into jobs quickly.''
Also in the testimony, you said, there are 23 million
unemployed workers right now who received $150 billion in
unemployment insurance benefits in 2010, and that currently
there are more than 6 million workers who have been unemployed
for more than 26 weeks.
My question is, how many of these recipients have been
required to take job training under the Workforce Investment
Secretary Solis. Well, I would tell you that many of the
programs that we do offer, in particular through our One-Stop
centers, we do require, in some cases, for people to come in.
Some States actually do that, where you have to come in if you
are a recipient of UI and go through some of the training
programs, get an assessment, and then find out exactly where it
is you want to go.
But what I think is important to underscore here is, the
Unemployment Insurance Program is supposed to provide a safety
net for people while they are transitioning and finding a job.
Keep in mind, you still have almost five unemployed people per
one job. And that isn't going to change as quickly as I would
like, but we are working on it.
In addition, that $1 of UI money that goes back to that
recipient, $2 are generated to keep some of the local
businesses' doors open. So the grocery store, the gas station
attendant, the dry cleaners, people are also seeing that money
then going back as kind of a short stimulus for areas that have
been heavily impacted.
Mr. Kelly. And I understand that. So, in December now, the
President made unemployment benefits available for up to 99
weeks. So do you support making enrollment in a job-training
program mandatory for accepting unemployment insurance after a
certain number of weeks?
Secretary Solis. I am not sure that, at this time, I can
say that I can do that. But certainly, working with the
Congress and figuring out ways that we can incentivize people
that are receiving UI or even those that may be shortly laid
off, giving incentives so that the Federal Government can
provide on-the-job training so we can consistently keep these
people from being laid off--those are different activities that
we offer now that many businesses are not taking advantage of.
Mr. Kelly. Okay, well, I am going to encourage you. Because
I have been involved in good investments and bad investments,
but when we talk about the Workforce Investment Act, I think
that the money we are spending, we deserve to have a positive
return on that. And so I am going to encourage that people
really get into looking into this. And, actually, if we are
going to do this, we have to get people back to work. And I
just don't think we are going in the right direction. I see a
lot of money being spent, and we don't see a lot of jobs coming
back to the forefront.
I yield back my time, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman Kline. I thank the gentleman. He set the example
at the very end of the hearing, but I appreciate it
Mr. Miller, any closing remarks?
Mr. Miller. Thank you.
Just quickly, one, I want to thank the Secretary, and I
want to thank her for her administration of this agency.
But back on the discussion you had with Mr. Platts, I would
hope that we would also have some transparency. I think the LM-
2, the LM-30s and the 20s, there really is an uneven level of
bureaucracy required here. Certainly, one, it is a question of
what the business consultants who do the anti-labor activities,
whether they are even filling this out and complying with this.
I am worried about that.
I would say to my colleagues on the other side, if you put
this level of regulation on a business, you would be screaming
to high heaven. Well, you know, but to do this to labor,
somehow that this is free. I don't think you should relish that
would you create that kind of system that is so costly and so
burdensome to these organizations.
But I would be interested in the compliance rates and the
disparities in terms of reporting requirements and liabilities
in this also.
But thank you very much for being before the committee
today and for your responses.
Secretary Solis. Thank you, Congressman Miller.
Chairman Kline. I thank the gentleman.
I want to take just a minute to address an issue that has
been kicked around here several times. You know, Madam
Secretary, that we are--in the last Congress, we didn't have a
budget and we didn't pass any appropriations bills. And so we
are in the business of working with continuing resolutions and
trying to debate how we should allocate that money.
The question came up, I think from the ranking member and
others, about the VETS, V-E-T-S, program and One-Stop shops. So
I just wanted to point out a couple of things about that.
One, it was mentioned by a number of my colleagues that we
have in this job-training business, you know, 9 agencies
spending $18 billion for 47 different job-training programs.
And then Mr. Miller and I have had this discussion a number of
times about how we need to address WIA and make this simpler
and, clearly, less wasteful.
But the question was raised about whether or not One-Stop
shops would have to shut down on April 1st or something like
that. Certainly, I don't have the definitive answer here,
except, clearly, there is money, there is $550 million in
carryover balances that are unexpended and unobligated for the
One-Stop system from 2010. There is another $1.1 billion in
unexpended dollars left from that program that is carryover
money. So I don't think we are looking at an April 1st
I know that your department will be looking at that. And I
am not purporting to give a definitive answer here. I am simply
saying that there is carryover money here, there is often
unexpended money. And it is somewhat of an indictment of a very
confusing system that this committee and this Congress and,
certainly, the Department are going to have to address.
I want to thank you, Madam Secretary, for coming, for your
testimony, for your very straightforward answers to our
If there is no other business, the committee now stands
Secretary Solis. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate the
[Responses by Secretary Solis to questions submitted
[The study, ``Project Labor Agreements,'' 2007, may be
accessed at the following Internet address:]
[Whereupon, at 12:20 p.m., the committee was adjourned.]