Monday AM September 7th, 2009

The U.S. Secretary of Labor hosted a news conference in advance of Labor Day to talk about challenges facing the American worker. Ed Mayberry reports.

Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis sends greetings to the American worker for Labor Day.

"I want to wish all of you, as I begin a happy Labor Day.  This year, Labor Day comes at a time, you know, when we're facing unprecedented challenges in our country—challenges that severely impact American workers and their families.  Close to 50 million Americans, as you know, are currently out of a job or are looking for work."

Solis says her agency is focused on creating good jobs for everyone.

"These are more than just numbers.  They're real families.  They're real faces.  They're real people that are, that are right now confronting some major obstacles in the wake of our economic crisis." 

Solis says the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is beginning to show an impact on the economy.  She says she's optimistic.

"But as I travel throughout the country and our nation here, I see the irrepressible spirit of the American worker.  Our people are not looking for a handout.  They're looking to contribute to their families and to the nation as a whole.  And we at the Department of Labor are committed to help them do just that." 

Secretary Solis recently announced a push for increased OSHA enforcement.  She made the announcement in late June in San Antonio.

"Texas has had a large number of fatalities in the construction industry and I was very concerned about that, and wanting to make sure that we can deploy our resources there to help remedy that.  So that's something that, yes, I am very concerned and want to continue to work on.  And as a result we are, we are going and are committed to beefing up our staff that are going to be investigating these safety hazards.  So it's really more of an effort to educate people and those businesses that want to comply, because there are many, many firms and businesses that are doing the right thing, expending a great deal of money to get additional training and information and to help their staff and their employees.  And yes, we are going to be increasing the number of investigators that we bring on.  In fact, by the year 2010, we're looking at 1,275 in OSHA and as whistle-blowers, and in Wage and Hour, we expect to hire up to 980 as investigators."   

Solis says unannounced safety inspections will continue. 

Ed Mayberry, KUHF Houston Public Radio News.

Bio photo of Ed Mayberry

Ed Mayberry

Local Anchor, All Things Considered

Ed Mayberry has worked in radio since 1971, with many of those years spent on the rock 'n' roll disc jockey side of the business...