Tag Archives: OSHA

Questions For Andrew Puzder, Trump Nominee for Labor Secretary

 

(Post by Rick Dacri, January 12, 2017)

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President-Elect Trump has nominated Andrew Puzder for Secretary of Labor. Puzder is a successful businessperson, lawyer, and CEO of CKE Restaurants, the parent company of fast food chain’s Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr.

The mission of Labor is “to foster, promote, and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers, and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.” They are also responsible for investigating minimum wage violations, overtime infractions, and worker safety laws.

Puzder has taken positions in opposition to many of the regulations the DOL oversees, including the federal minimum wage, worker eligibility for overtime, the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and sick leave polices.

The U.S. Senate is scheduled to begin confirmation hearings on Puzder in February.

I have put together 18 questions that I believe the Senate should ask the nominee:

  1. What qualifies you to be the next Secretary of Labor?
  2. You have opposed the raising of the federal minimum wage. Why? What do you believe is an adequate minimum wage?
  3. You indicated a proposed $15 minimum wage would force businesses to automate their operations and thereby eliminate jobs. Do you believe that a minimum wage increase drives the need for automation or is automation a tool for productivity? If wages collapsed, would businesses stop automating?
  4. According to the Economic Policy Institute, CEO pay has grown 90 times faster than the typical worker pay since 1978. Due to this unequal growth, average top CEOs now make over 300 times what typical workers earn. Do believe wage disparity is a problem in this country and what, if anything, should Labor or the Trump administration do about this?
  5. The Department of Labor oversees the federal wage and hour division, which ensures that workers are paid for all the hours they work. Yet in California, your franchise restaurants have been fined over $20 million for wage and hour violations. Can you address this issue and what steps did you take to remedy this problem in franchises you control. Secondly, what steps will the DOL take, under your reign, to enforce wage and hour laws?
  6. A Roc United survey given to your franchise store employees in California, found that a third of those employees were not given meal breaks after working at least 5 hours, in violation of the state’s worker break laws. 79% said they also served or prepared food while they were sick. Can you address these issues and what steps did you take to remedy these problems in franchises you control. Secondly, what steps will the DOL take, under your reign, to enforce break laws?
  7. You are also on record opposing sick leave policies, yet many workers in your franchise restaurants are preparing and serving food while sick. Are you concerned about endangering both your customers and employees? Should sick leave laws be mandated?
  8. Bloomberg did an investigation of your company’s franchises. They found that in 60% of the DOL investigations in your restaurants, there were minimum wage and overtime violations. Again, can you address this issue and what steps did you take to remedy this problem? Secondly, what steps will the DOL take, under your reign, to enforce wage and hour laws?
  9. President-Elect Trump has indicated he supports 6 weeks of paid maternity leave. You have stated that mandatory leave creates undue burdens on business. How directly do leaves create a burden, and as Labor Secretary, will you support or ignore the President-Elect’s initiative?
  10. According to a review of inspection records with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration since 2000, the year your took over as chief executive of CKE, Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. locations have incurred at least 98 safety violations, 36 of them listed as serious. OSHA defines a “serious” violation as one that could result in death or grave physical harm that the employer should have been aware of. Can you address this issue and what steps did you take to remedy this problem in franchises you control? Secondly, since OSHA and worker safety fall under DOL’s responsibility, what steps will the DOL take to enforce these laws?
  11. Your company has introduced commercials that include women wearing skimpy bikinis and lingerie while eating burgers. In response, you stated in a 2015 Entrepreneur interview, “I like our ads. I like beautiful women eating burgers in bikinis. I think it’s very American. I used to hear, brands take on the personality of the CEO. And I rarely thought that was true, but I think this one, in this case, it kind of did take on my personality.” My questions, is this your personality, as you stated? Do you believe these ads objectify women? What kind of tone does this set in your workplaces?
  12. 2/3 of female workers in restaurants operated by you, claim that they have been sexually harassed by your customers. Many employees indicated that these customers mentioned those ads. Were you aware of this and what is your plan to address this?
  13. Do you believe that sexual harassment in the workplace is a legitimate issue and what steps should employers take to eradicate it?
  14. Are there any federal labor laws that you would eliminate and if so, which ones and why?
  15. Do you believe there are any new labor laws that should be initiated? What are they and why are they needed?
  16. President-Elect Trump stated that he would like to eliminate unemployment compensation fraud. How big a problem is it and how could you eliminate it? Please be specific.
  17. You have opposed the Affordable Care Act. What specifically is the problem with the Act? Are their components of it that you would like to keep? What would you replace the Act with, what would it cover and not cover, and will it be cheaper than the current ACA?
  18. You have stated that we should cut government benefit programs because workers turn down promotions to keep such benefits, such as food stamps. Please explain this and tell us how wide-spread a problem this is?

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Control Your Workers’ Compensation Costs

“Mary is still out with a back injury and I don’t know when she will be returning. I got a note from her doctor and it said she will be out indefinitely. Frankly, I can’t believe she was hurt that bad.”

This is often a typical exchange about a work related injury and the beginning of an out of control and costly workers’ compensation claim.

When the supervisor was asked about whether he had spoken to Mary or to Mary’s doctor, the response was “No, I don’t want to seem like I’m harassing her and I don’t think I have the right to speak to the doctor.” Unfortunately, this is the farthest thing from the truth.

No matter how good an organization’s safety program is, work related injuries will still occur. Employers must, therefore, develop a positive “post-injury response” system which is designed to care for their injured employee, to help them get the employee back to work quickly, and to minimize their workers’ compensation costs.

So what should employers do when an injury occurs? What should their post-injury response system look like? An effective multi-component system should include the following steps:

Take care of the injured employee: When someone becomes injured, this is your priority. Whether it is providing first aid or escorting the person to the hospital, the tone of the case will be established in the first few minutes after the injury. Employees are most vulnerable immediately after the injury. Questions are flowing through their head: “Will I be OK?” “Will I lose my job over this? “How will I be able to pay the mortgage if I’m out of work without a paycheck?” The employer needs to step in to reassure the employee that they will be OK and that they will have a job. There will be plenty of time later to fill out those insurance forms. The priority now is taking care of the injured employee.

Establish a medical provider relationship: If an injured employee needs medical treatment, a relationship with doctors, medical specialists and a hospital or clinic are key. You want to be able to get employees immediate medical treatment. You do not want them spending hours in an emergency room. Finally, physicians should know and understand your workplace so that they can work with the employee and the organization to provide quality care and to help the employee to return to work when they are medically fit.

Establish a modified or light duty program: This is the key to reducing your workers’ compensation costs. Studies show that when employees return to work, under proper medical supervision, they heal quicker, feel better about themselves and are able to remain productive.

Analyze all accidents: The true cause of all accidents must be determined so that it can be prevented in the future. What kind of message is sent to an injured employee who returns to work and sees the same situation exists that caused his or her accident? Analysis and correction form the basis of your safety program and sends a powerful message to all employees that safety is important.

Develop a relationship with the insurer: As your partner, they can be key to the early, successful resolution of this claim. Without their help, claims can linger indefinitely.

Reducing your workers’ compensation cost requires a comprehensive program where employers partner with their employees, medical providers and the insurer. Its key, however, is simple: if you take care of your injured employee, ensure that they get the best medical treatment, and provide an atmosphere of caring and trust, you will find that your workers’ compensation costs will drop and equally important, your employees will be happier, more productive, and have less work related injuries.

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