By Ted Hesson | 05/17/2017 10:00 AM EDT
With help from Marianne LeVine, Mel Leonor and Ian Kullgren
KELLY TALKS TO HAITI: Homeland Security Sec. John Kelly earlier this week discussed with several Haitian officials a possible extension of humanitarian relief for Haitian immigrants, according to Paul Altidor, the country's ambassador to the U.S.
The meeting came after the ambassador sent Kelly a May 8 letter urging the secretary to renew "temporary protected status," extended initially after Haiti's 2010 earthquake and then renewed multiple times while Haiti struggled to contain a six-year cholera epidemic and repair new damage from last year's Hurricane Matthew. Haiti's TPS, which allows an estimated 50,000 Haitians to live and work legally in the U.S., is set to expire in July; the Trump administration will decide the policy's fate by May 23.
In his letter to Kelly, Altidor said an extension of at least 18 months would be "in the mutual interest" of both countries, partly because repatriating Haitians prematurely could "lead to a humanitarian and economic crisis" that would prompt more Haitians to flee to the U.S. Kelly met Monday with Altidor and Haiti's foreign minister, Antonio Rodrigue, according to the ambassador. DHS did not comment about the meeting.
"Obviously, we kind of wanted to get his viewpoint," Altidor said. The pair told Kelly that Haiti needed to develop an economic development plan (President Jovenel Moise took office in February following a year during which the country was run by a transition government). "We walked out feeling OK," the ambassador said, adding that, to their knowledge, "no decision has been made." Read the letter here.
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ACOSTA ABROAD: Labor Sec. Alexander Acosta will be in Germany today to tour the BMW Group's headquarters and to learn more about its apprenticeship programs. On Thursday and Friday Acosta will participate in G20 sessions to talk with labor and employment ministers about "apprenticeships, job training programs, and empowering women in the workforce."
HOTEL LOBBY: Roughly 500 hoteliers from around the country will head to Capitol Hill today and tomorrow, according to the American Hotel & Lodging Association, which will organize the effort with the Asian American Hotel Owners Association. They'll stress the industry's role in job creation and press for policy changes such as a revision to the Obama administration's joint employer standard, which made it easier to hold businesses liable for the labor practices of subcontractors and franchisees. (Many hotel employees these days--bellhops, cleaning staff, kitchen workers--work for subcontractors.)
Immigration issues will likely surface, including a possible expansion this year of the H-2B guest worker visa program. President Donald Trump's travel ban and "extreme vetting" policy are another likely topic, as these threaten to reduce the flow of foreign tourists this summer. "It's definitely an issue that our members care about and are prepared to discuss in their meetings if it comes up," AHLA spokesperson Katie Longo told Morning Shift.
** A message from SIFMA: The Department of Labor must delay its harmful fiduciary rule, until the review directed by President Trump is completed. Up to 14.7 million consumers could face significant changes to their retirement and financial advice and lose up to $109 billion over 10 years. Protect retirement savers. Delay the DOL Rule. https://t.e2ma.net/pages/1780301/1131. **
APPEAL REJECTED IN LAS VEGAS UNION CASE: The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals denied a petition from two former members of the Las Vegas Culinary Workers' union, Natalie Ruisi and Michael Peluso, after the pair filed a complaint against the union for allegedly stonewalling their efforts to leave it.
The NLRB sided with the union, but the employees appealed, saying the board ruled improperly. The court did not agree. "We hold that the board reasonably concluded that the union's disputed policy was not arbitrary," Judge Harry Edwards wrote. "The board also reasonably found that the union neither discriminated against Ruisi and Peluso, nor acted in bad faith in requiring the employees to submit written requests in order to receive their authorization dates." Read the opinion here.
'BOOTS ON THE BORDER' MARKUP: The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will take up a measure today to loosen U.S. Customs and Border Protection hiring standards. The so-called Boots on the Border Act sponsored by Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) would eliminate a polygraph requirement for certain applicants who have law enforcement and military experience.
The Border Patrol's lie detector test is notorious for its high failure rate (more than double the average of other law enforcement organizations, according to a January survey by the Associated Press). Brandon Judd, president of the National Border Patrol Council, said in March testimony before the committee that the problem was "well documented" and that even former Border Patrol agents who left the job to work at other law enforcement agencies failed it when they tried to return.
Still, immigrant rights advocates fear easing standards could lead to "more corrupt cowboys," in the words of Lynn Tramonte, deputy director of America's Voice. The DC Immigration Hub, comprised of former Hill staffers, issued a written statement Tuesday against the Flake bill and a similar measure in the House. "These bills threaten to repeat recent disastrous history, when agents hired during a 2006 CBP surge frequently were corrupt - some working for international drug trafficking organizations - and prone to abuses such as excessive uses of force and sexual assault," the group said. The HSGAC meeting will take place at 10 a.m. in Dirksen 342.
CLAIRE GRADY NOMINATED FOR DHS ROLE: The White House announced Tuesday the nomination of Claire Grady for DHS undersecretary for management. In June 2015 Grady became director of defense procurement and acquisition policy at the Defense Department.
MICHIGAN PUSH TO REPEAL PREVAILING WAGE: The Michigan Board of Canvassers will meet Thursday to consider a petition, led by the state Associated Builders and Contractors, to lift a 1965 state law requiring contractors to pay prevailing wages for state-sponsored projects, Jonathan Oosting reports for The Detroit News.
"Republican state legislative leaders want to repeal the prevailing wage law, which they argue inflates the cost of taxpayer-funded construction projects," Oosting writes. "But GOP Gov. Rick Snyder has threatened to veto any legislation that reaches his desk, suggesting it could hurt his efforts to build interest in skilled trades careers."
"A successful petition drive would allow prevailing wage foes to bypass Snyder," Oosting reports. "With majority support from state legislators, the initiated legislation could become law without the governor's signature or statewide voter approval." More here.
DOL CANDIDATE DISSED MCCONNELL: Curtis Ellis, a reported contender to head up the DOL's Bureau of International Labor Affairs, has a colorful history on Twitter, according to Bloomberg BNA's Ben Penn and Josh Eidelson. Ellis, who is currently a member of the DOL beachhead team "called Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) 'China's bitch' in a 2014 tweet," Bloomberg BNA reports.
"Ellis' tweet was still visible the afternoon of May 16 but was apparently deleted following Bloomberg reporters' inquiries about it," Penn and Eidelson write. "Other controversial Ellis tweets were still live at publication time, like a September 2014 comment that 'hedge funds have done more damage to USA than Al Qaeda.'" More here.
EEOC SUES XPO OVER ALLEGED RELIGIOUS DISCRIMINATION: The logistics company XPO Last Mile faces charges that it discriminated against a Jewish worker by revoking his job offer when the man said he could not work on Rosh Hashanah, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The lawsuit, which came out of the EEOC's Philadelphia district office, says that the company refused to make a reasonable accommodation when the employee asked to delay his start date by one day, and later refused to settle with the EEOC over the issue, prompting the suit. More here.
LOOKING TO 2020: The left-leaning Center for American Progress is sharpening its pitch to workers whose education ended in high school. In a report released Tuesday, CAP proposed an infrastructure "Marshall Plan" that would create jobs for non college-educated workers. This group has "faced years of economic dislocation and wage pressures from rising globalization, outsourcing, and automation," the report reads, "factors that likely increased the appeal of Trump's message of economic nationalism." More here.
INFRASTRUCTURE PRESSER: Reps. David McKinley (R-W.Va.) and Donald Norcross (D-N.J.), co-chairs of the Building Trades Caucus, will hold a 3:30 p.m. press conference today on federal infrastructure policy.
MINNEAPOLIS RESTAURANTS WARN AGAINST MINIMUM WAGE HIKE: Restaurants in Minneapolis are warning customers about a forthcoming city proposal to raise the hourly minimum wage to $15, up from the current $9.50, and to eliminate the tip credit. "A coalition of restaurateurs and servers has hired a professional lobbyist to help create a campaign called 'Pathway to $15,'" Mecca Bos writes in City Pages. "The coalition argues that restaurants and bars compensate their employees in a unique way, and that way should be considered as the city forges ahead with the wage increase. So far, Mayor Betsy Hodges and the Minneapolis City Council have indicated that a tip credit will probably not be considered." More here.
MCDONALD'S FACES 'FIGHT FOR $15' PUSH: "Thousands of Americans have taken to the streets this year to march for women's equality, environmental issues and an overhaul of the president's immigration policies," writes Abha Bhattarai in the Washington Post. "Now for the first time, the anti-Trump resistance movement is setting its sights on a corporation: McDonald's."
"Organizers from the Women's March, MoveOn.org and the Bernie Sanders campaign spinoff Our Revolution will join forces next Tuesday to march from Trump Tower in downtown Chicago to the Rock N Roll McDonald's, a half-mile away. Their goal: to rally the fast-food giant - and the country's second-largest employer - to pay an hourly minimum wage of $15 and allow its workers to unionize." More here.
FOURTH CIRCUIT DECLINES TO REVIVE FMLA CASE: The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals declined to revive a case about whether Sotera Defense Solutions discriminated against an employee for taking medical leave. The employee claimed the defense contractor violated the Family and Medical Leave Act by placing him in a different position and laying him off after he returned from medical leave.
A lower court granted summary judgment to Sotera and the appeals court agreed. In the court opinion, Judge William Traxler wrote that the FMLA "does not require an employer to restore an employee returning from leave to his previous position no matter what" and noted that "employment benefits were exactly the same for both positions." He added that "undisputed evidence" indicates the employee's new position "was not slated for layoffs at the time [the employee] returned from leave." Read the court opinion here.
8TH CIRCUIT SIDES WITH MCGRAW-HILL: The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals sided with publisher McGraw-Hill in an appeal filed by a black employee who argued he was unfairly compensated, subjected to a hostile work environment, and wrongfully discharged on account of his race.
The fired worker claimed he overheard one supervisor say to another, "I wish I had never hired his black ass." But judges in the Eighth Circuit agreed with the district court's ruling that "one race-related comment ... does not constitute harassment sufficiently severe and pervasive to support a hostile work environment claim." Judges also wrote that while other employees who were white and performed similar duties were paid more, the fired employee failed to prove that the pay disparity was due to discrimination. (The other employees were hired from competing firms and had more experience.) Read the opinion here.
-"Despite promises, car makers are set on jobs cuts," from the Wall Street Journal
-"More American workers are testing positive for drugs," from the Wall Street Journal
-"Lowe's is testing exoskeletons for its employees," from the Washington Post
-"Uber's CTO and a board director are under pressure in its sexual harassment investigation," from Recode
- "Along Texas-Mexico border, Trump's wall faces barrier of public opposition," from the Dallas News
-"Immigrant detainee dies in ICE custody," from CNN
-"E-Verify has delayed or cost half a million jobs for legal workers," from the Cato Institute
-"Ex-Snap employee says user metrics concerns led to firing," from Law360
-"Two Frontier flight attendants sue for right to pump breast milk on job," from the Dallas News
** A message from SIFMA: The Department of Labor's fiduciary rule is harming retirement savers and it must be delayed. Financial professionals helping millions of American households save for retirement urge the DOL to delay its harmful fiduciary rule for a minimum of 180 days. Recently, the DOL proposed a rule to provide a 60-day delay of the fiduciary rule, which temporarily helped prevent further service changes, customer confusion and market disruptions. However, this is not enough time to fully review the consequential impact of the entire rule, as requested by the president. American investors saving for retirement deserve better. DOL needs to take the time to get this right and review the entire rule. A 180-day is needed to conduct the review and protect retirement savers from additional harm and turmoil. DOL must delay the rule. https://t.e2ma.net/pages/1780301/1131. **
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