Proof that Government can Work
$74 Million in stolen wages paid to 100,000 people is just one example of how Obama made us all believers
As President Obama’s term enters its final days, the President and all his Department Secretaries are issuing exit memos about the work that their departments did over the last eight years. While many career government employees face an uncertain future in regards to their programs and work, this is also a time to reflect on the positive work that these men and women did over the last eight years.
Over the last eight years the Department of Labor has been tasked with overseeing the recovery coming out of the Great Rescission. As the economy changed and millions of people were desperate for work, many unscrupulous employers took advantage. In Secretary Tom Perez’s memo, he touted the great work that the Wage and Hour Division did to recover wages for these employees and hold bad employers accountable. Over the last eight years, the Wage and Hour Division has recovered $1.6 Billion in back wages for 1.7 million people. Additionally, the Labor Department has gone after employers who are misclassifying their workers. These investigations have resulted in $74 million being paid back to 102,000 mostly low wage workers. The Labor Department also helped out low wage workers with the Home Care Final Rule, which extended minimum wage and overtime protection to nearly 2 million previously exempt home health care workers.
The Labor Department also has the power to lobby for executive, legislative and state changes that will help the workforce. During the Obama administration, the Department successfully lobbied for an Executive Order to raise the minimum wage for federal contractors, extend anti-discrimination benefits to LGBT employees of Federal Contractors and an Executive Order that protected employees of these contractors who discussed their compensation. Since 2009, 18 states and the District of Columbia have also answered the President and Secretary Perez’s call to raise their minimum wage. As UCOMM Blog previously reported January 1 2017 saw the minimum wage increase for millions of working people around the country.
Beyond protecting the workforce Department of Labor also pushed to make the economy work for working people. Thanks to their lobbying, President Obama issued a challenge to double the number of construction apprentices in registered programs. Since 2014, 125,000 new apprentices have entered programs marking the largest increase in a decade. Thanks to the expansion of these apprenticeship programs, young men and women will now learn a skilled trade without incurring tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt. The Department of Labor also spent $260 Million over the last two years to invest in and strengthen apprenticeship training around the country.
These are just a few of the accomplishments that came out of the Labor Department during the Obama Administration’s eight year tenure. These changes helped to protect workers and train the next generation. The next four years are going to be rough but, those at the Labor Department should hold their heads high knowing that for the last eight years they have worked hard to ensure a better future for countless working families. You can read Secretary Perez’s entire letter here. Nice work.