Judicial Watch • Department of Labor

Department of Labor Archives | Judicial Watch

Keeping with the big government mentality, various federal agencies are creating thousands of positions to meet the goals set by a new Obama initiative to find jobs for “low-income and disconnected youth.”

Announced by the president this week, the Department of Labor’s (DOL) Summer Jobs 2012 is being promoted as a private-federal partnership in which a quarter of a million unemployed, low-income youths will enter the workforce. Several major companies already operate similar programs though the DOL seems to indicate that they were inspired by this novel plan.

After all, the administration is touting it as a “new call-to-action for businesses, nonprofits and government to provide pathways to employment for low-income and disconnected youth.” The goal is to create 250,000 summer jobs for the disenfranchised youth, ages 16 to 24. An internet tool will soon be launched where the job-seekers can access openings and connect with participating employers.

Obama’s Labor Secretary, former California Congresswoman Hilda Solis, hinted that minorities will be heavily targeted, pointing out that “minority youth have had an especially difficult time funding summer employment.” To back this up Solis offered the following statistics; the unemployment rate for African-American youth last summer was 31% and for Latinos it was 20%. That means 900,000 African-American youth and 820,000 Latino youth didn’t work, according to the secretary’s figures.   

This is being presented by the administration as a crisis that requires government intervention. So far three federal agencies have committed to create a combined 19,424 jobs for the low-income, disconnected minority youth. The Department of the Interior, which manages the country’s national parks, will lead the way with 12,000 positions in various wildlife refuges, environmental restoration projects and tribal lands.

The Department of Agriculture will offer 7,100 low-income youth—referred to as “our future leaders”—with “valuable work experience” and the Department of Health and Human Services will chip in 324 jobs. Recalling her upbringing in a blue-collar Los Angeles neighborhood, Solis credits these sorts of summer youth jobs for setting her on a course that led her to a president’s cabinet.

Since making it to the prestigious post, Solis has launched a number of controversial programs, including a division with a 1,000 field investigators to protect illegal immigrants in the U.S. workforce. Her agency has also dedicated tens of millions of dollars to questionable initiatives that provide “meaningful job training” for low-income juvenile delinquents and “high-risk” adults, safety training for “low-literacy Latinos” and to promote collective bargaining in Vietnam.  

Last month, Judicial Watch uncovered a scandal behind the DOL’s wasteful, bilingual smartphone app to help hourly workers “stand up for their rights” and file complaints against employers. To create the app, the agency awarded a noncompetitive contract— intended for socially and economically disadvantaged businesses—to former DOL official who owns a profitable company called Cascades Technologies Inc.

The U.S. Secretary of Labor has warned local governments that try to crack down in illegal immigration that they cannot deny undocumented workers minimum wage, which is guaranteed under a federal law that establishes pay in both the private and public sector.

Obama Labor Secretary Hilda Solis singled out Alabama this month, reminding state officials that their new law to curb illegal immigration invalidates employment contracts for undocumented aliens who are guaranteed the federal minimum wage under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Alabama’s law took effect earlier this year and requires everyone to prove legal residency to get a job, enroll in school, register a car or rent housing. 

Shortly after the measure took effect, the Department of Justice (DOJ) challenged it in court, claiming that it conflicts with federal immigration law and undermines the federal government’s “careful balance of immigration enforcement priorities and objectives.”  The DOJ also hates that the law is designed to affect virtually every aspect of an “unauthorized immigrant’s daily life” and that it criminalizes their “mere unlawful presence.”

Solis, a former California congresswoman with close ties to the influential open borders movement, has vowed to help all illegal immigrants who have worked in Alabama and “whose right to the federal minimum wage or overtime pay has been violated.” In a DOL blog post this month she assures that the Obama Administration is fighting the state’s immigration control law but until the “courts strike it down” it is “critical that all workers in Alabama know their federal rights.” 

Here is another interesting excerpt from Solis’s article: “Our federal government—under both Republican and Democratic presidents—has long held that all people working in this country have the right to the federal minimum wage, regardless of immigration status…Farm workers must have their wages paid on time. Employers must provide their terms of employment in writing. And, if an employer provides housing or transportation, it must be safe.”

The nation’s Labor Secretary goes on to criticize the Alabama measure for making it a crime for an illegal immigrant to enter into a business transaction, such as signing an apartment lease or getting utility service. “Imprisoning those who seek shelter and basic sustenance runs counter to the universal rights of all free people. It’s beneath the dignity of this great nation,” she wrote.

Solis ends the piece with a tear-jerker, quoting Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at a Geneva speech where she reminds the world that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” Governments cannot confer these rights because they are the “birthright of all people,” according to the Clinton speech quoted by Solis. “These basic rights extend to immigrants living in Alabama,” Solis concludes.  

Since Obama appointed her to run the DOL Solis has launched a number of costly initiatives to help illegal immigrants and her agency has given the open borders most powerful group, the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), more than $5 million to promote its leftist agenda via a network of community organizations dedicated to serving Latinos.  

Under Solis the DOL launched a special program with 1,000 investigators dedicated to enforcing labor and wage laws in industries that typically hire lots of illegal aliens without reporting anyone to federal immigration authorities. The agency has also dedicated nearly $11 million to foreign-language programs that help workers with “low literacy or limited English proficiency” and entered formal agreements with Central American countries vowing to preserve the rights of their migrants working in the U.S.  

Based in two socialist Latin American countries, a group dedicated to helping indigenous populations in that region just got a generous $13 million grant from the U.S. government to combat “exploitative child labor” in Peru.

The allocation comes on the heels of a similar, $10 million grant by the same agency—the Department of Labor (DOL)—to fight child labor in Ethiopia. In that case the African country’s notoriously corrupt government, recently exposed for illicit financial flows in the billions, will likely handle some of Uncle Sam’s money. Corruption, kickbacks and bribery are on the rise in Ethiopia, according to a new report issued this week by a research group that aims to curtail the cross border flow of illegal money.

As if that weren’t bad enough, this week’s allocation will go to a Bolivian and Ecuadorian-based group called Desarrollo y Autogestión (Development and Self-management) that promotes social and economic development for “impoverished” and “marginalized” groups. Both Ecuador and Bolivia have socialist governments that have worked to redistribute wealth in the last few years. In fact, it’s been well documented that Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa is running a socialist-dictatorship similar to Venezuela’s.  

Obviously, any groups—such as Desarrollo y Autogestión— that operate in this system are approved or have some sort of ties to the regime. That makes U.S. government funding all the more outrageous. Just look at the wording of the DOL’s announcement. It says that the $13 million project is designed to “combat poverty and social exclusion.” How? By engaging “local indigenous leaders and communities.”     

This is all part of the DOL’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs (ILAB), which ensures that workers around the world are treated fairly and are able to share in the benefits of the global economy. ILAB’s mission is to use all available international channels to improve working conditions, raise living standards, protect workers’ ability to exercise their rights, and address the workplace exploitation of children and other vulnerable populations.

As is the case with most government bureaucracies of this magnitude, the mission requires generous funding by American taxpayers. In its congressional budget justification for fiscal year 2012, the DOL asks for more than $1.5 billion to fund its various causes abroad. This includes $40 million to combat exploitative child labor internationally, more than $18 million for “program evaluation” and nearly $14 million to implement worker rights programs through technical assistance.

A Judicial Watch investigation has uncovered a scandal behind the Department of Labor’s (DOL) wasteful, bilingual smartphone app to help hourly workers “stand up for their rights” and file complaints against employers.

The first-of-its-kind app was announced by the agency in May as an innovative electronic timesheet to help employees independently track the hours they work and determine the wages they are owed. Available in English and Spanish, the app was created to “help empower workers to understand and stand up for their rights when employers have denied their hard-earned pay,” according to Obama Labor Secretary Hilda Solis.

In October JW launched a probe into this questionable use of taxpayer dollars by requesting public records from the DOL relating to the smartphone app. The records reveal that the agency awarded a noncompetitive contract— intended for socially and economically disadvantaged businesses—to a former DOL official who owns a profitable company called Cascades Technologies Inc.

The owner of Cascades Technologies, Alfredo Casta, is a former information technology chief at the DOL, according to records obtained by JW. His company has 87 employees and takes in nearly $10 million in revenue. That means it would not qualify for a noncompetitive government contract, which is strictly reserved for firms owned and controlled at least 51% by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals.

The Small Business Administration, which sets the guidelines, says African-American, Hispanic American, Asian Pacific Americans, Native Americans (American Indians, Eskimos, Aleuts, or Native Hawaiians) and Subcontinent Asian Americans are presumed to be socially disadvantaged.

So far Cascades Technologies has billed the DOL $60,896 for 697 hours of work performed on the phone app, according to records obtained by JW. The DOL has apparently paid nearly $50,000 of the contract so far, the records indicate. The agency admits not having any data establishing a need to develop this app. In other words, a politically-connected entrepreneur needed to increase his profits.

The DOL has launched a number of costly and highly questionable programs since Solis, a former California congresswoman, took over the agency. Last year she appointed 1,000 field investigators to operate a program to protect illegal immigrants in the U.S. workforce. This year she has allocated north of $90 million to help low-income juvenile delinquents and “high-risk” adults with “meaningful job training.”

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