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Obama's unfair union-election tilt

Education & the Workforce Committee - Fri, 03/28/2014 - 12:00am


   
​By Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Representatives John Kline (R-MN) and Phil Roe (R-TN)

The president is waging a public-relations campaign about income inequality in this country, but rather than focus on growing the economy and encouraging businesses to hire, this administration has fallen back on stale, bankrupt ideas that don’t help workers achieve more.
   

The latest is a rule proposed by the National Labor Relations Board to speed up union elections, reduce the time workers have to decide whether or not to join a labor union, and force employers to hand over to union organizers their employees’ private information.

The board’s Democratic majority is expected to finalize the proposed rule later this year.

Congress must take action. On Thursday, we introduced legislation that will prohibit this administration from rigging union elections and ensure workers get adequate time to hear from both sides and make a decision, while maintaining control over their personal information.

Today, the union election process takes a median of 38 days — generally enough time for unions to make their case and for employers to make theirs, and for employees to have the information they need to make a fully informed decision.

The proposed rule would shrink that process to as few as 10 days — just enough time for unions to make their aggressive plug without giving employers adequate time to respond. It hamstrings employers from speaking to workers and making their case to the board, forcing them to raise all their concerns within seven days and essentially forfeit the right to raise additional concerns later.

The real loser is the American worker, who would be ambushed by the process and forced to make a decision without all the facts.

The current election timeline doesn’t favor employers. Unions win 60 percent of elections.

Labor unions are suffering dwindling ranks and need the kind of advantage that can only come by rigging the election. Unfortunately, the Obama administration is more than ready to help out their union allies.

 

If the proposed rule sounds familiar, it should. The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia already struck down the administration’s past attempt to rush through ambush elections on procedural grounds.

This time around, the National Labor Relations Board is going even further. The rule includes a provision that shows a startling lack of respect for workers. Employers would be forced to hand over the private cellphone numbers and email addresses, work location and shift information of workers to union officials.

This provision constitutes an unprecedented invasion of worker privacy.

Choosing whether or not to join a union is an important decision. If unions are certain they are best for workers, then they shouldn’t fear an election process that allows workers a real opportunity to make up their minds.

Our legislation will ensure sufficient time for employers and workers to prepare for an election and require the election take place no sooner than 35 days after the petition is filed. It will permit employers to raise concerns throughout the process, and it empowers employees to choose the personal information that will be disclosed to unions.

The federal labor board ought be an umpire rather than a biased advocate. Today’s board fails that test, as President Obama has appointed union advocates to serve in the roles of adjudicators.

In the face of this board’s union advocacy, Congress needs to stand up for fairness to workers and employers.

Rep. John Kline, Minnesota Republican, is chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. Sen. Lamar Alexander, Tennessee Republican, is ranking member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. Rep. Phil Roe, Tennessee Republican, is chairman of the House Education and the Workforce health, employment, labor and pensions subcommittee.

To learn more about the legislation introduced in the House, click here

***MEDIA ADVISORY*** Kline, Messer to Tour Minnesota Charter Schools, Discuss Importance of #SchoolChoice

Education & the Workforce Committee - Thu, 03/27/2014 - 5:40pm

On Monday, March 31, 2014 House Committee on Education and the Workforce Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Rep. Luke Messer (R-IN), chair of the House School Choice Caucus, will tour Global Academy in Columbia Heights, Minnesota, and Aspen Academy in Savage, Minnesota.

At each charter school, Chairman Kline will host a roundtable discussion with parents and area charter school leaders on ways charter schools support education opportunity and empower parents. After the roundtables, members will hold a press conference to highlight House efforts to support #SchoolChoice and promote charter school growth.


WHO
:        House Education and the Workforce Chairman John Kline (R-MN)
                   Rep. Luke Messer (R-IN)

WHAT:     Charter School Tour, Roundtable, and Press Conference
                   Note: Media are invited to observe and report on tours and roundtable discussions.

WHEN:      Monday, March 31, 2014
                   9:30 a.m. CT – Tour of Global Academy
                   10:30 a.m. CT – Roundtable Discussion
                   11:15 a.m. CT – Press Conference
                   (Media must be pre-set by 11:00 a.m.)

                   1:00 p.m. CT – Tour of Aspen Academy
                   1:45 p.m. CT – Roundtable Discussion
                   2:30 p.m. CT – Press Conference
                   (Media must be pre-set by 2:15 p.m.)

WHERE:   Global Academy
                   4065 Central Avenue NE
                    Minneapolis, MN 55421

                   Aspen Academy
                   14825 Zinran Avenue
                   Savage, MN 55378

RSVP:       Media planning to attend must RSVP to Alexandra Sollberger at alexandra.sollberger@mail.house.gov.

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Supreme Court Observations: Lexmark Int’l v. Static Control Components

WLF Legal Pulse - Thu, 03/27/2014 - 1:44pm
Guest Commentary by John E. Villafranco, Michael C. Lynch, and Paul R. Garcia, Kelley Drye & Warren LLP* (Ed. Note: Villafranco and Lynch authored an October 2013 WLF Legal Opinion Letter previewing the Lexmark case which can be accessed here) On March 25, 2014, a unanimous Supreme Court in Lexmark Int’l, Inc. v. Static Control […]
Categories: Latest News

Update: U.S. Government Fails to Answer Argentina’s Call for Help, Declines Filing Brief in Sovereign Debt Case

WLF Legal Pulse - Thu, 03/27/2014 - 1:00pm
Argentina this week received some support (in the form of several amicus curiae briefs) for its efforts to obtain Supreme Court review of the setback it suffered in Second Circuit at the hands of Argentine bondholders. Argentina needs all the help it can get; it is nearing the end of the line in its thus-far […]
Categories: Latest News

Joint Working Group on Improving Cybersecurity and Resilience Through Acquisition

Office of Advocacy - Thu, 03/27/2014 - 12:59pm
Page summary: 

On February 12, 2013, the President issued an Executive Order for Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity (Executive Order

13636). In accordance with Section 8(e) of Executive Order 13636, the General Services Administration (GSA) and the Department of Defense

(DOD) submitted recommendations on the feasibility, security benefits, and relative merits of incorporating security standards into

acquisition planning and contract administration and addressing what steps can be taken to harmonize, and make consistent, existing

procurement requirements related to cybersecurity.  On January 23, 2014, the GSA and DOD posted the Final Report of the Joint Working Group on

Improving Cybersecurity and Resilience through Acquisition on the DOD and GSA Web sites. The report makes six (6) recommendations to improve

cybersecurity and resilience in Federal acquisitions. 

On February 12, 2013, the President issued an Executive Order for Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity (Executive O

read more

Categories: Latest News, SBA Advocate

House, Senate Leaders Introduce Legislative Response to NLRB Ambush Election Rule

Education & the Workforce Committee - Thu, 03/27/2014 - 12:00pm

House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN), Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Ranking Member Lamar Alexander (R-TN), and Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee Chairman Phil Roe (R-TN), today introduced legislation that will protect the rights of workers and employers by rolling back the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) controversial ambush election rule.

“The Obama NLRB is on a mission to rush union elections that will stifle employers’ free speech and cripple workers’ free choice,” said Chairman Kline. “At a recent meeting with board Chairman Mark Pearce, we laid out our concerns with the proposal and its consequences for workers and job creators. However, it’s exceedingly obvious the board is determined to advance this radical scheme no matter the damage inflicted on our nation’s workplaces. Congress cannot just stand by and do nothing. The commonsense legislative approach we are proposing today will strengthen the rights workers and employers have enjoyed for decades.”

“The National Labor Relations Board ought to be an umpire,” said Senator Alexander, “but under this administration has lunged so far to the side of union advocacy that they’re willing to sacrifice every worker’s right to privacy and every employer’s right to free speech. Congress must act, first to stop this rule, second to reform this board.”

“Republicans have said time and again if there are ways to improve the current union election process, we are more than happy to do that,” said Rep. Roe. “Unfortunately, the board’s regulatory proposal upends decades of labor policies to fix a problem that doesn’t exist. Even more disturbing, it will make workers and their families vulnerable to harassment and intimidation at home or on the jobsite. Our legislation will empower workers to protect their personal privacy and help modernize the election process. This is a win-win for workers that deserves the support of our colleagues.”

Background: In February the NLRB proposed sweeping changes to long-standing labor policies in an attempt to speed up union elections. Nearly identical to a rule introduced in 2011, the board’s proposal provides employers only seven days to find legal counsel and appear before an NLRB regional officer at a pre-election hearing. During those seven days, employers will have to identify every legal concern or basically forfeit the ability to raise additional concerns during the course of the hearing. The rule also delays answers to important questions, including voter eligibility, until after the election has occurred. Finally, the proposed rule jeopardizes worker privacy by providing employees’ names, home and email addresses, work schedules, phone numbers, and other personal information to union organizers.

As a result of these changes, union elections could occur in as few as 10 days, providing employers no time to communicate with their employees and undermining the ability of workers to make an informed decision, and worker privacy will be compromised. The legislative response proposed by Chairman Kline, Senator Alexander, and Representative Roe would:

  • Guarantee workers have time to gather all the facts to make a fully informed decision in a union election. No union election will be held in less than 35 days.
  • Ensure employers are able to participate in a fair union election process. The bill provides employers at least 14 days to prepare their case to present before a NLRB election officer and protects their right to raise additional concerns throughout the pre-election hearing.
  • Reasserts the board’s responsibility to address critical issues before a union is allowed to represent workers. The board must determine the appropriate group of employees to include in the union before the union is certified, as well as address any questions of voter eligibility.
  • Empower workers to control the disclosure of their personal information. Employers would have seven days to provide a list of employee names and one additional piece of contact information chosen by each individual employee.

To learn more about the legislation introduced in the House, click here.

To learn more about the legislation introduced in the Senate, click here.

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Thursday’s Thoughts on Leadership: How To Enchant Your Boss

InteroMojo - Thu, 03/27/2014 - 9:15am

Since last week I talked about being an enchanting boss and how to enchant your employees, with keeping to the law of reciprocity, I thought this week I’d focus on how to enchant your boss.  This again takes us back to that great book by my friend, Guy Kawasaki: Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds and Actions.

The chapter titled How to Enchant Your Boss, provides some great ways to keep your boss happy and includes everything from making her the priority to asking her advice:

  1. Make your boss look good – If she looks good, you look good.
  2. Drop everything and do what your boss asks – This shows that you are hardworking, efficient and effective.
  3. Underpromise, Overdeliver – Set goals you’re 120% sure you can hit in 80% of the allotted time.
  4. Prototype your work – When you get an assignment from your boss, quickly complete part of the task and ask for feedback.
  5. Show and broadcast progress – On long term projects, volunteer your progress to keep you and the project on her radar.
  6. Form friendships – This makes you more effective as an employee and provides social proof of your wonderfulness.
  7. Ask for mentoring – With this, you get the benefit of her help, plus you flatter her by asking
  8. Deliver bad news early – This provides more opportunities to fix the problem.
Categories: Latest News

The Employee Privacy Protection Act

Education & the Workforce Committee - Thu, 03/27/2014 - 12:00am


THE PROBLEM:

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is advancing a proposal that would jeopardize the privacy of workers and their families. Buried in a draft rule designed to speed up union elections, the NLRB is attempting to require employers to disclose employees’ personal information to union organizers. The Obama board’s regulatory scheme would provide labor bosses access to employees’ names, home addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, work locations, and work schedules. The board’s proposal is a radical expansion of existing policies that already leave workers vulnerable to intimidation, threats, and coercion. Recent examples include:                      

  • A union in Missouri is accused of using “mafia style” tactics against employees of a local construction company. According to the company’s owner, “It wasn’t such a big deal until they started making threats of bodily harm, started following me and my wife to our home, started following my employees to their homes.”
  • A National Labor Relations Board regional office is charging a union in Washington state with destruction of property and threatening the families of company employees. According to the Daily Caller, the NLRB has charged the union with a “laundry list of violent and dangerous tactics.”

Employees provide personal information to employers expecting this sensitive information will be protected. Most employees would be shocked to learn the federal government was forcing employers to hand over their personal information to union bosses. The privacy of working families should be strengthened by policymakers, not weakened by an unelected labor board.

THE SOLUTION:

To safeguard the privacy of America’s workers, Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee Chairman Phil Roe (R-TN) introduced the Employee Privacy Protection Act. The legislation will give workers greater control over the disclosure of their personal information and help modernize an outdated union election process.

THE EMPLOYEE PRIVACY PROTECTION ACT:

  • Empowers workers to control the disclosure of their personal information. Employers would have seven days to provide a list of employee names and one additional piece of contact information chosen by each individual employee.
  • Modernizes the union election process. In the age of email and smart phones, relying on home addresses is both outdated and dangerous. The bill allows employees to choose the easiest and safest way to communicate with union organizers.
  • Rolls back the NLRB’s attempt to jeopardize the privacy of working families. When enacted, the legislation would prevent the board from achieving its radical invasion of employee privacy.

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The Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act: Protecting Workers’ Free Choice

Education & the Workforce Committee - Thu, 03/27/2014 - 12:00am


THE PROBLEM:

In February the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued a proposal that will dramatically alter long-standing policies governing union elections. The board’s proposed rule will significantly shorten the time between the filing of a petition for a union election and the election date by:                    
  • Giving workers as few as 10 days to consider all the consequences of joining a union before they have to vote in the election.
  • Providing employers just seven days to find legal counsel and prepare their entire case to be presented at pre-election hearing convened by an NLRB election officer.
  • Delaying answers to important questions – such as voter eligibility – until after workers have cast their ballots, and limiting an employer’s ability to raise additional issues or concerns throughout the pre-election hearing process.

As a result of these dramatic changes, the board’s proposal will stifle employer free speech and cripple worker free choice. As one committee witness recently testified, the rule “needlessly alters the delicate balance that exists in current law that provides for the opportunity for an employee to make an educated and informed decision.”

THE SOLUTION:

To protect the workers’ right to make an informed decision in union elections, House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) introduced the Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act. The legislation will codify existing NLRB election procedures, preventing an activist board from imposing sweeping changes on the workplace.

THE WORKFORCE DEMOCRACY AND FAIRNESS ACT:

  • Guarantees workers the ability to make a fully informed decision in a union election. No union election will be held in less than 35 days. Workers will have a chance to hear both sides of the debate and important issues that can determine how a worker votes will be decided before ballots are cast.
  • Ensures employers are able to participate in a fair union election process. The bill provides employers at least 14 days to prepare their case to present before a NLRB election officer and protects their right to raise additional concerns throughout the pre-election hearing.
  • Reasserts the board’s responsibility to address critical issues before a union is allowed to represent workers. The board must determine the appropriate group of employees to include in the union before the union is certified, as well as address any questions of voter eligibility.

The Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act will rein in the activist NLRB and reaffirm protections workers and job-creators have received for decades.

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Rockefeller: We Need a Strong Federal Standard to Protect Consumer Data

WASHINGTON, D.C.-- Chairman John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV today gave an opening statement at the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation hearing titled, "Protecting Personal Consumer Information from Cyber Attacks and Data Breaches." Below are his prepared remarks:

Protecting Personal Consumer Information from Cyber Attacks and Data Breaches

WASHINGTON, D.C.— The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation will hold a hearing on Wednesday, March 26, 2014 at 2:30 p.m. titled, “Protecting Personal Consumer Information from Cyber Attacks and Data Breaches”. The recent high-profile data breach at Target, and less-reported breaches at entities such as Neiman Marcus, White Lodging, Snapchat, and the University of Maryland, have highlighted the need to improve our protection of consumer data. Databases populated with sensitive information about large numbers of American consumers have been prime targets for cyber thieves for a number of years. This hearing will examine the risks to these recent data breaches pose for consumers, the current lack of federal data security protections, and several data security bills pending before the Senate Commerce Committee that would establish such federal standards.

Thune Data Breach Hearing Statement

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator John Thune (R-SD), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, will submit for the record the following prepared remarks at today’s “Protecting Personal Consumer Information from Cyber Attacks and Data Breaches” full committee hearing:

Thank you, Chairman Rockefeller, for holding this afternoon’s hearing on data breaches and protecting consumer information. Protecting consumers from identity theft, fraud, and financial harm is certainly a goal that all of us on this committ...

Hanna Subcommittee Exposes Job-Killing Business Regulations and Occupational License Requirements

House Small Business Committee News - Wed, 03/26/2014 - 12:00am

The Small Business Subcommittee on Contracting and Workforce, under the chairmanship of Rep. Richard Hanna (R-NY), today conducted a hearing to examine the impact of burdensome occupational licensing laws on business startups and the economy overall.
 
As the economy and employment situation remains sluggish, many unemployed and underemployed Americans are considering starting their own business or using a skill or talent to earn an income. However, for many of these workers, potentially costly and burdensome licensing requirements are presenting a significant barrier to economic opportunity.
 
“During the past five years, economic freedom and entrepreneurial opportunity have declined in America due to burdensome and unnecessary occupational licensing laws,” said Chairman Hanna. “For enterprising and motivated individuals to have every opportunity for economic success, we must repeal licensing laws and regulations that slow growth while serving no true public interest. The stories from today’s hearing demonstrate how these laws are creating barriers to entrepreneurship and putting a damper on competition, innovation, and prosperity.”
 
Materials from the hearing are available on the Committee’s website HERE.
 
Notable Quotes:
 
Melony Armstrong, Owner of Naturally Speaking in Tupelo, MS said, “Every day, hundreds of low-income families are housed because of my work. But I don’t run a shelter. They are clothed through what I’ve done. But I don’t run a second-hand clothing store. They are fed because of what I achieve. But I don’t run a soup kitchen. I have transformed the lives of hundreds of poor women in my state of Mississippi not because I sought out government assistance for them; rather, because I demanded that the government get out of my way so I could provide for myself and for my family, and so other women around me could do likewise in peace, dignity and prosperity.”
 
Patti Morrow, President of Interior Design Protection Consulting in Greer, SC said, “Two years ago, I moved to South Carolina, and it was déjà vu, all over again. In 2012 and 2013, I had to take time away from my business to drive to Columbia multiple times to speak with legislators and testify at hearings. As of right now, the latest bill has been tabled. But for how long? Licensing this industry is nothing more than restraint of trade and is a job killer.”
 
Timothy Sandefur, Principal Attorney at Pacific Legal Foundation in Sacramento, CA said, “Sadly, licensing restrictions have been abused for centuries by established businesses as a way to prohibit economic competition, enabling them to raise their prices while barring newcomers from the market. This harms consumers and restricts economic opportunity for precisely those who most need it. While these abuses generally take place at the state level, Congress has authority to protect economic freedom and secure the blessings for economic liberty for all.”

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Kline Statement: Hearing on "Reviewing the President's Fiscal Year 2015 Budget Proposal for the Department of Labor"

Education & the Workforce Committee - Wed, 03/26/2014 - 12:00am

The purpose of today’s hearing is to examine the president’s fiscal year 2015 budget request for the Department of Labor. However, as is often the case, budget hearings are about more than dollars and cents. As the old saying goes, budgets are about priorities. Naturally, budget hearings provide Congress an opportunity to examine and discuss the policies an administration intends to pursue in the coming years.

The authority of the Department of Labor governs practically every private business and affects countless working families. It is a great responsibility and one I am sure you take seriously, Mr. Secretary. Since taking office, you’ve shown a willingness to work with the committee on a number of important issues, such as the department’s unprecedented enforcement of family farms and health care providers serving active and retired military personnel. We haven’t agreed on every detail, but we appreciate the efforts you’ve made to address our concerns.

It is my hope that we can build on this progress in the weeks and months ahead. Our nation faces significant challenges that can only be addressed if we work together in good faith, and we all know there is a great deal that demands our attention.

For example, more than 10 million Americans can’t find work and roughly 7 million are employed part-time but need a full-time job. The labor force participation rate has dropped to levels not seen since the Carter administration – a sign millions of workers are so discouraged with their job prospects that they’ve left the workforce entirely. We have a health care law that is discouraging and destroying full time work. More than one out of every 10 African-Americans can’t find a job and nearly 47 million individuals are living in poverty. In the Obama economy, stock prices on Wall Street reach record highs while the wages of working families on Main Street remain flat.

We are told time and again a strong recovery is just around the corner if the president is allowed to spend more, tax more, and borrow more. Yet after $17.6 trillion in total spending and $6.8 trillion in new debt, we are stuck in the slowest economic recovery in our nation’s history. Despite the obvious fact that the president’s policies aren’t working, he has once again put forward a budget that doubles down on the status quo.

This fundamentally flawed approach is evident in the president’s request for six new job training programs at a cost of more than $10 billion. That’s right, the president wants to pile more training programs onto the more than 50 duplicative and ineffective programs that already exist, making a confusing maze of programs even more difficult for workers to navigate. Taxpayers will be forced to invest in more bureaucracy instead of in the skills and education that will help workers succeed. Spending more money on a broken system will not provide the support vulnerable workers and families need. 

The American people can no longer afford to invest in the president's failed agenda. We need to change course and adopt responsible reforms that will get this country working again; reforms that will help every individual who wants to enjoy the dignity of work find a job; reforms that will help ensure no one who works full time is forced to live in poverty; reforms that will help provide hope and prosperity for every working family. The policies embraced by the president during the last six years haven’t moved us toward these goals, and his current budget request won’t either.

Obviously there are stark differences on how best to move our nation forward. This committee will do its part to find common ground where we can and invest in real solutions that help grow our economy, create jobs, and expand opportunity for all who seek it. I urge the administration to be a partner in that effort. No executive order or unilateral action can put the country back on track and people back to work. Mr. Secretary, let’s stop recycling bad polices and start building on the small but encouraging progress we’ve made in recent months to work together on behalf of the American people.

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Subcommittee Explores House Priorities for CCDBG Reauthorization

Education & the Workforce Committee - Tue, 03/25/2014 - 3:00pm

The House Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education, chaired by Rep. Todd Rokita (R-IN), today held a hearing entitled, “The Foundation for Success: Strengthening the Child Care and Development Block Grant Program.” During the hearing, members discussed the committee’s priorities for reauthorizing the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) program, and examined opportunities to help improve the quality of the program’s child care services.  

In his opening remarks, Chairman Rokita said, "CCDBG is invaluable to parents who are struggling to provide for their families. As a father of two boys, I know firsthand child care isn’t just finding a place for your kids to go during your work day. It’s a far more difficult decision about choosing a provider where you can trust trained professionals will care for your child in a safe environment.”

“Child care is a way of life today for the majority of families. Times have changed over the years and more mothers are working today than 24 years ago when the Child Care and Development Block Grant was first enacted,” said Paula Koos, Executive Director of the Oklahoma Child Care Resource & Referral Association.

“Across the country, the most recent federal data shows that 1.5 million children on average every month are in CCDBG funded child care settings,” Ms. Koos added. “I believe it’s time to provide some minimum protections for all our children across this great country and to ensure that public dollars are spent in an accountable way.”

A recent review of the Child Care and Development Fund determined states face significant challenges in meeting suggested program standards. Gloria Jarmon, Deputy Inspector General for Audit Services for the Office of the Inspector General at the Department of Health and Human Services, provided an overview of the report’s findings.

“First, vulnerabilities exist in states’ standards and monitoring of child care providers that put the health and safety of some children at risk,” Ms. Jarmon said. “Two, weaknesses in certain states’ fiscal controls over obligation and liquidation activities put CCDF funds at risk of being misspent.” Ms. Jarmon emphasized the importance of ensuring the affordable child care services offered under CCDBG do not sacrifice quality or safety.

Linda Kostantenaco, president of the National Child Care Association, expressed support for raising the quality standards under CCDBG while also maintaining the program’s flexibility. “Such flexibility ensures parents the opportunity to find an appropriate child care center that satisfies their needs and the unique needs of their children,” Mrs. Kostantenaco said. “It is this array of choice that facilitates the best partnership between a family and their child care center.”

“As many of you know, our colleagues in the Senate recently approved the Child Care and Development Block Grant Reauthorization Act of 2014,” Rep. Rokita said. “While many of [the] provisions [in the Senate bill] will help to improve the quality of child care, we must also take steps to ensure these new requirements will help – not hinder – states in meeting the needs of children and their families…If we are truly here to fight for people, and to empower people so they can build better lives for themselves and their families, access to quality child care is something we must address.”

Rep. Rokita concluded, “The reauthorization of the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act provides an opportunity to work together to advance bipartisan legislation that will help our nation’s most vulnerable children and families. I look forward to examining the strengths and weaknesses of the CCDBG program, and discussing opportunities for consensus between House priorities for reauthorization and the Senate-passed legislation.”

To learn more about today’s hearing, or to watch an archived webcast, visit www.edworkforce.house.gov/hearings.

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Five Questions for the Secretary of Labor

Education & the Workforce Committee - Tue, 03/25/2014 - 1:00pm

Tomorrow Labor Secretary Thomas Perez will testify before the House Education and the Workforce Committee on the department’s budget and policy priorities for the upcoming fiscal year. This will be the secretary’s first appearance before the committee since his confirmation, so committee members are eager to discuss a broad range of topics and concerns. Here are five critical questions for the secretary that should help get the conversation started:      

  1. Mr. Secretary, where are the jobs? More than 10 million Americans can’t find a job and 7 million are employed part-time but need full-time work. Just as disturbing, the labor force participation rate stands at just 63 percent, a grim sign millions have given up their job search entirely. There are a number of pressing priorities that would help create jobs and put people back to work. For example, the president could work with Congress to reform a broken job training system (see below). Or approve construction of the Keystone Pipeline. Or expand foreign markets for American-made goods. All efforts would enjoy bipartisan support and help get the country working again.
       
  2. What exactly is the president’s job training plan? In 2012 President Obama called on Congress to “cut through the maze of confusing [job] training programs” and establish one program to serve job-seekers. Yet recently the president requested more taxpayer money to fund six new programs. Meanwhile, Congress is still waiting for the president’s plan to clean up the maze of confusing programs. Fortunately the House has taken action on one plan that would streamline the bureaucracy, strengthen federal job training support, and help Americans compete for in-demand jobs. House Republican priorities for job training reform are clear. The administration’s priorities are not.
       
  3. Does the administration agree with labor leaders that ObamaCare is hurting workers? Once upon a time, the administration dismissed Republican concerns that ObamaCare would destroy full-time jobs as speculation. But it’s a lot harder for the administration to disregard the law’s critics now that they include allies in organized labor. Three prominent labor leaders wrote ObamaCare will “destroy the foundation of the 40 hour work week that is the backbone of the American middle class.” A resolution endorsed by the AFL-CIO warned the law is leading to “a new underclass of less-than-30 hour workers.” The House will soon consider legislation that would help address this problem. The president and his administration should support this important effort.
       
  4. Will Secretary Perez help Congress resolve the multiemployer pension crisis? For two years the House Education and the Workforce Committee has been examining the challenges facing the multiemployer pension system. A number of large plans are on the brink of insolvency and the federal agency that assists troubled plans is on a path to bankruptcy. Action is needed to protect employers, workers, retirees, and taxpayers. Leaders representing labor and management have coalesced around a broad package of reforms, and the committee is working on its own solution to this looming crisis. However, this important effort cannot succeed without support from the president and his administration.
       
  5. Can the committee expect less interference and more cooperation with congressional oversight? President Obama promised an era of unprecedented transparency, yet the challenge of receiving adequate responses to basic oversight requests appears unending. The labor department has routinely responded to committee inquiries late, insufficiently, and sometimes not at all. On one occasion, the department slipped under the committee’s front office door a CD containing oversight materials along with the password to access the materials. This mysterious drop occurred after business hours and on the eve of an oversight hearing. Let’s hope our new secretary instills in the department greater respect for congressional oversight.

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