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The Nation discusses the "new sheriff" Posted by on

If you think the Obama administration isn't doing enough for unions and workers in the United States, you might want to take a look at The Nation. Esther Kaplan has an informative piece on Department of Labor Secretary Hilda Solis and the work she and her team are doing to reinvigorate the department.

During the Bush years, the Department of Labor became a cautionary tale about what happens when foxes are asked to guard the henhouse. But since California Congresswoman Hilda Solis became labor secretary last winter, she has brought on board a team of lifelong advocates for working people--some of whom come from the ranks of organized labor--and has hired hundreds of new investigators and enforcers.

President Obama calls Solis part of his economic team, but the truth is she's not part of the daily huddle at the White House with Summers and Geithner and Orszag. She's tapped instead as a lead voice in the "jobs, jobs, jobs" choir, advocating for Obama's latest stimulus package. She has tiptoed into the realm of financial regulation, organizing a joint hearing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on the abysmal performance of target date retirement funds during the market crash, and she doles out hundreds of millions of dollars in job training funds, a decent chunk of which she has used to shape policy by channeling it to green industries. But Solis understands that her real influence lies in her power to enforce the nation's labor laws--the primary mission of the DoL. It's a role she embraced with relish at her swearing-in, where she announced with a grin, "To those who have for too long abused workers, put them in harm's way, denied them fair pay, let me be clear: there is a new sheriff in town."

Solis and her team are using techniques and personell that have been tested and succeeded on state levels, such as the crackdown on employee misclassification that was wildly successful in New York. The piece is an interesting look at the difference with a change of attitude.

MassINC to feature NYTimes labor writer Posted by on

MassINC, a nonpartisan think-tank based in Boston, will be hosting Steve Greenhouse, New York Times labor reporter and author of the book ??The Big Squeeze; Tough Times for the American Worker?? on April 7. The session, co-sponsored by the New England Regional Council of Carpenters, will focus on the book, which details how the culture and conditions of the American workplace have changed over the years and the significant impact those changes are having on both white- and blue-collar workers.

Greenhouse will be introduced by NERCC Executive Secretary-Treasurer Mark Erlich. The lunch meeting will take place at noon at the UMass club at the UMass Club, 225 Franklin Street, 33rd Floor in Boston. To register for the free event, please visit this link.

Visit Posted by on

The Greater Pennsylvania Regional Council of Carpenters has developed a website to spread the word about problems connected to Kohls department stores. All members are encouraged to visit regularly for updated information and to share a link for the site with fellow members, family and friends.

The national retail giant has run into numerous problems in the construction of its stores in multiple areas of the country, including New England. Click here for more information.

In addition to construction issues, the company seems to have a problem with inaccurate pricing in its stores, an issue that has also popped up in too many areas over too long a period of time to be considered an innocent mistake. Visit for more information.