The Consumer News and Business Channel, which went live in 1991, is a network dedicated to promoting business, especially the CEO stars de jour. Most newspapers publish a business section that generally adulates and cheers for business owners.
The invention of so-called “job creators ” entered into the political parlance in the 2012 race to the White House between Mitt Romney and Republicans, whose declaration of “We built this” was a verbal counter offensive to “You didn’t build that,” a phrase President Obama and Democrats used that admonished those who conveniently forget that everyone pays for infrastructure like roads and bridges that every business needs to succeed.
There is no network that promotes workers exclusively, in the same way CNBC bastes and flavors the business chefs it raises like fatted calfs. And most newspapers do not publish either a section dedicated to workers, workers rights or the stories that portray their treatment by businesses as a cost to contain, or include the many episodes wherein job-creators ignore, abuse or defraud their workers.
But the Department of Labor, a federal agency in business since 1913, has its hands full everyday in regulating the treatment of workers by their bosses, some of whom do not earn the gold stars good job creators should be proud to earn.
As a reminder of what DOL does, it’s job description reads: “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.” To carry out this mission, DOL administers and enforces more than 180 federal laws and thousands of federal regulations. “These mandates and the regulations that implement them cover many workplace activities for about 10 million employers and 125 million workers,” the agency Website displays.
In the July 17 edition of DOL’s online newsletter, three Ohio-based companies were among 15 companies whose violations of federal labor laws, and the penalties for those violations, made the cut to go public.
Formed Fiber Technologies, located in Sidney, where it produces motor vehicle interior trimmings for automotive manufacturers, including Toyota and General Motors provides false abatement documentation, provided false documentation and making false representations claiming that previously cited hazards related to hydraulic presses had been corrected. The company has been issued 14 safety citations, including willful and repeat citations, as well as a notice of failure to abate with proposed fines totaling $816,500, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, a division of DOL.
Miami Valley Polishing, located in Piqua, struggles with its responsibility to protect the health of its workers, failing to establish required engineering controls for dust exposure and to provide hearing tests at least annually to evaluate occupational hearing loss. OSHA fined the company $50,820 for repeat and serious safety violations related to exposing workers to excessive noise and respiratory hazards.
Another Piqua-located company, Champion Foundry Inc., exposed nine employees to dangerous levels of silica dust, respiratory hazards and unsafe work conditions,while grinding castings and relining a furnace. OSHA knows silica exposure can cause silicosis, an irreversible lung disease, and other serious health hazards, and following its January 2014 inspection cited the company for 20 safety violations—including seven repeat and 13 serious—and imposed penalties of $57,140.
Workers and workers unions are under fire today, and while media does a great job of either not reporting this news or burying the myriad reports that involve fraud, abuse or mistreatment of workers if it does, it appears DOL is a steady sentinel working for workers and workers rights, which any great CEO worth his golden parachut knows is at the heart of any business.
John Michael Spinelli is a communications professional and former credentialed Ohio statehouse journalist with a professional background in economic development and experience working with the Ohio Senate, the Ohio Public Works Commission and the Office of Ohio Secretary of State. John is one of Ohio’s leading independent reporters and journalists, and a regular contributor to Plunderbund.com and AllVoices.com.