The Department of Labor’s (DOL’s) FY2024 budget requests $15.1 billion, up 3.4% from FY2023, to expand employment pathways and protect workers’ health and safety, wages, and retirement.
Of the funds, DOL has requested, $11.5 billion would go toward the Employment and Training Administration (ETA), an increase of 9.4% from FY 2023. The ETA administers Federal workforce development and worker dislocation programs, Federal grants to states for public employment service programs, and Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits. Funding supports initiatives that aim to expand and create good jobs and protections for American workers; these include:
Additionally, DOL’s budget calls for $2.3 billion, also up from previous years, to strengthen worker protection agencies. One of those agencies is the Wage and Hour Division (WHD), which enforces labor standards. The increased funding will allow WHD to enforce prevailing wage, minimum wage, and family leave requirements. Funding also increased for the Office of Federal Contractor Compliance Programs (OFCCP), enabling them to enforce anti-discrimination laws and ensure Federal contracting.
The DOL budget can be found at https://www.dol.gov/general/budget
President Biden has announced his $6.9 trillion budget proposal for 2024, which lays out his policy priorities for the next fiscal year. Biden’s budget addresses many of the items he laid out in his most recent State of the Union address.
The budget details the Administration’s plans to lower costs and cut taxes for working families; expand access to childcare, education, housing, and healthcare; and protect and strengthen Medicare and Social Security.
Overall, the discretionary portion of the budget promotes non-defense programs. Specifically, the budget seeks $688 billion in non-defense programs, up 7.3% from the current year, and calls for a lesser increase for military and national security, requesting $842 billion for Defense programs, up about 3%. The rest of the spending is for mandatory programs.
Another important aspect of the proposed budget is lowering the deficit by nearly $3 trillion over the next decade by raising trillions of dollars in taxes on corporations and the wealthy, including by instituting a 25% minimum tax on the top 0.01% of the most affluent Americans.
Biden’s proposed budget faces strong opposition and is unlikely to be adopted as is with narrow majorities in both the House and Senate. However, President Biden will need to work with lawmakers to establish some budget agreements before the summer deadline for raising or suspending the nation’s borrowing limit to avoid a potential default.
President Biden has nominated Julie Su to serve as the Secretary of the Department of Labor (DOL). Since 2021, Su has served as the Deputy Secretary of Labor and has been called a “champion for workers” and is expected to advance Biden’s vision of a resilient and inclusive economy with worker well-being at its core. If confirmed, Su will become the first Asian American to join Biden’s cabinet at the rank of Secretary.
Before joining the DOL, Deputy Secretary Su served as the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency Secretary. There she worked closely with unions and employers to build partnerships to connect people to union jobs.
The Senate must confirm Su, where she has the backing of the Congressional Asian-Pacific American Caucus and the Congressional black caucus. However, her confirmation could still be contentious as she is facing opposition from republicans who are citing her role in crafting state law AB5 that classifies some contract workers as employees. Critics say AB5 severely restricts businesses’ ability to hire freelancers.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has announced that it invites the public and workplace safety stakeholders to share their comments regarding the best way to encourage employers and honor those who commit to workplace safety and health.
By opening the program to public comments, OSHA seeks input from all viewpoints to assist the agency as it modernizes and enhances its Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) and continues to promote the use of workplace safety and health management systems.
Through a series of questions to elicit practical responses, OSHA is seeking input regarding such issues as:
The deadline for comments is April 14, 2023. Those interested should submit comments and attachments, identified by Docket No. OSHA-2022-0012, using the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal.
The Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) will be hosting compliance seminars to provide information on the requirements governing payment of prevailing wages on federally funded service and construction contracts. These seminars are a component of WHD’s ongoing efforts to improve compliance and increase awareness concerning the prevailing federal wage requirements.
The seminars are intended for contractors, agencies, unions, workers, and other stakeholders who will have access to training videos on various Davis-Bacon and Service Contract Act (SCA) compliance topics. Additionally, there will be an opportunity to participate in corresponding virtual Question & Answer sessions with WHD staff.
These Q&A Sessions will be offered live on several dates throughout the year to accommodate participants’ schedules. The dates for the Davis-Bacon-specific topic will be March 8, June 27, and September 13, 2023. The SCA-specific Q&A sessions will be on March 9, June 28, and September 14, 2023.
The seminar attendance is free; however, registration is required. Participants may register at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/2023-department-of-labor-prevailing-wage-seminars-tickets-519169428737?aff=ebdsoporgprofile
The U.S. Census Bureau announced construction spending for December 2022 was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $1,809 billion, 0.4% below the revised estimate of $1,817 billion in November. Compared to last year’s same period, construction spending in December was up 7.7%. The overall value of construction in 2022 was $1,793 billion, 10.2% above the total construction spending in 2021.
While private construction spending in December was $1,427 billion, 0.4% below the revised November estimate of $1,433 billion, public construction spending was $383 billion, 0.4 % below the revised November estimate of $384 billion. However, the one strong contributor to public construction was highway construction at $117.3 billion, 1.1% above the revised November estimate of $116 billion.
Compared to the previous year, the value of public construction in 2022 was $364 billion, 4.8% above what was spent in 2021. Again, highway construction was a leading contributor of growth with $109 billion, up 8.6 % above the $100.2 billion in 2021.
More information may be found at https://www.census.gov/construction/c30/pdf/release.pdf
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) that bans employers from imposing noncompete clauses on their workers. The NPRM is based on preliminary studies that find noncompetes create an unfair method of competition, therefore, violating Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act.
Noncompete agreements are widespread and can block the creation of new businesses and suppress wages. The NPRM would prohibit new and existing noncompete clauses to address these issues.
The NPRM would apply to independent contractors and anyone who works for an employer, whether paid or not. The FTC estimates that the NPRM could help increase wages by nearly $300 billion annually and expand career opportunities for about 30 million American workers.
The public is invited to submit comments regarding the NPRM by March 10, 2023. After this, the FTC will issue a final rule that will include changes based on the comments received and any further analysis of this issue.
The White House has issued memorandum M-23-08 requiring all federal agencies to formally designate a labor advisor whose role will ensure government contracts comply with federal employment laws. This comes in response to the White House Task Force on Worker Organizing and Empowerment (Task Force) report recommending strengthening federal contractor employment and labor practices.
The memorandum guides agencies on the Task Force’s recommendation to designate labor advisors in all federal agencies and to provide more coordination and training among agency labor advisors. These labor advisors would help to improve implementation and uniform compliance with contract labor law requirements for Federal contracts.
The objective is for labor advisers to help agencies prevent employment violations that can result in costly lawsuits, back pay, and erosion of trust in the federal procurement system. Labor advisors will have many roles, including helping promote federal workforce understanding of longstanding labor laws such as the Service Contract Act (SCA), Davis-Bacon Act (DCA), and the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
The Department of Labor and the Office of Federal Procurement Policy within the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) will establish and jointly manage the agency labor advisers, known as the Contract Labor Advisor Group (CLAG). The CLAG is expected to focus training on non-displacement and project labor agreements to support their implementation.
At this time, the OMB and DOL are asking Agencies to designate at least one career employee as a labor adviser by Feb. 15.
The State of New York has recently signed legislation establishing a new registration system for all contractors and subcontractors engaged in public work and covered private projects to enforce existing labor laws better. As a result, any contractors planning to bid on covered projects should know they must register with the NY Department of Labor (NYDOL) beforehand.
This new law creates a registration system that allows the NYDOL to vet the contractor to see if they had any previous labor law violations, including prevailing wage, and ensure that only responsible contractors are approved to bid on New York covered projects. The intent is to ensure transparency, reduce fraud, and ensure taxpayers’ money goes only to contractors who treat their employees well.
Under this new law, a contractor must register with the NYDOL by providing a series of disclosures about their businesses every two years. This legislation is now in effect. Details may be found at https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/bills/2021/S5994.
The U.S. Census Bureau announced construction spending for November 2022 was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $1,807 billion, 0.2% above the revised estimate of $1,803 billion in October. Compared to the same period last year, construction spending was up 8.5%. During the first eleven months of 2022, spending amounted to $1,658 billion, up 10.5% above the same period in 2021.
While private construction spending in November was $1,426 billion, 0.3% above the revised October estimate of $1,422 billion, public construction spending was $381 billion, just 0.5% below the revised October estimate of $382 billion, with education construction as the primary contributor at $81.3, which is just 0.1% above the previous month. However, compared to last year’s period, public construction spending is up 10% from $345 last November.
More information may be found at: https://www.census.gov/construction/c30/pdf/release.pdf