WASHINGTON, D.C. -- A new federal executive order requires contractors seeking to do business with the federal government to disclose any labor law violations. The order also offers direction to hiring agencies regarding how to consider any such violations in the awarding of contracts.
In a July 31 release, the White House cites inadequate pay and faulty hiring practices as reasons for the order. “While the vast majority of federal contractors play by the rules,” the release asserts, “every year tens of thousands of American workers are denied overtime wages, not hired or paid fairly because of their gender or age, or have their health and safety put at risk by corporations contracting with the federal government that cut corners. Taxpayer dollars should not reward corporations that break the law, so today President Obama is cracking down on federal contractors who put workers’ safety and hard-earned pay at risk.”
The new “Fair Pay & Safe Workplaces” executive order will apply to companies seeking federal procurement contracts valued in excess of $500,000. It will require them to provide information regarding the company’s record of compliance with federal labor laws.
WETHERSFIELD — Job increases boosted by summer seasonal hiring and a June unemployment rate that dipped to 2008 levels are encouraging developments for the state’s labor experts. “Connecticut’s unemployment rate continues to decline for all the right reasons, such as broad industry job growth coupled with declining unemployment, and an expanding labor force,” according to Andy Condon, director of the state Department of Labor’s Office of Research.
The June unemployment rate was 6.7 percent, down 0.2 from May. More significantly, the June unemployment rate was the lowest for the state since December 2008, according to DOL. Of the ten major industry supersectors, seven added jobs in June. However, only 500 new jobs were in the private sector. The most nonfarm job gains were in the Government supersector, with a net of 1,200 new positions. All of the these job gains were in state government, as the number of positions in both the federal and local government sectors declined slightly (-100 for each). Other supersectors with significant job gains included Professional & Business Services (plus 700); Transportation & Public Utilities (600); and Educational & Health Services (400). The three supersectors posting job losses were Leisure & Hospitality (minus 1,000); Other Services (-600); and Financial Activities (-200).
The overall net gain of 1,700 jobs in June was “positive news,” according to Peter Gioia, Connecticut Business & Industry Association economist. But he added a caveat. “All this good news, though,” he stated, “is tempered by the fact that we still have concerns that we only have recovered 62 percent of the jobs lost during the recession, whereas the nation overall has added back over 100 percent of the jobs lost.”
NEW HAVEN — A Yale University employee has been indicted on charges that he operated a kickback scheme while working at the school. According to the indictment, 57-year-old George Dobuzinsky arranged to receive kickbacks totaling tens of thousands of dollars when he was a project manager responsible for soliciting vendors for audio and visual projects at the university between 2005 and 2013.
Dobuzinsky, who lives in Durham, was indicted June 11. He pleaded not guilty in Bridgeport federal court to conspiracy to commit wire frauds as well as three counts of honest-services wire fraud. Each count carries a maximum prison sentence of 20 years. He posted the $300,000 bond and was released pending trial.
NEW HAVEN — Marking its first anniversary at the beginning of June, New Haven Works announced it had helped some 330 city residents find employment. New Haven Works has built partnerships with Yale University and other employers who hire new workers for regular employment; provided paid on-the-job trainings for in-demand skilled work in fields such as information technology; and created a pipeline of qualified, vetted New Haven residents ready for jobs. New Haven Works provides a wide range of support services for both employers and prospective employees, and utilizes state incentives like the Governor’s StepUP program.
“We are prepared to work hand in hand with organizations like this,” said Gov. Dannel P. Malloy at a press conference marking the anniversary, “organizations that are doing everything in their power to have a properly-prepared workforce to fill the needs of employers with great-paying jobs and good benefits in the community in which they live.”
Connecticut residents seeking work might want to consider a job as a retail salesperson, operations manager or customer-service representative. Those are among occupations in the state with the greatest number of positions, according to the Department of Labor’s Office of Research. The top-rated job, retail salesperson, boasts more than 50,000 positions, and maintains 1,936 job openings each year, according to DOL. The average annual wage is $27,453. Annual pay is much higher for accountants and auditors: $75,185. However, there are far fewer yearly job openings in this field, 528. State residents might want to reconsider starting a career in fields in which the number of jobs is expected to decline. This category includes U.S. Postal Service workers, word processors and typists, and architectural and civil drafters. For more information visit the DOL website at ctdol.state.ct.us.
Among the more controversial bills that Gov. Dannel Malloy recently signed into law is one that allows advanced practice registered nurses to practice independently after collaborating for three years with a licensed Connecticut physician. The measure had been at the center of a clash between healthcare professional groups.
The Connecticut State Medical Society rallied against the bill, claiming that it opens the door to potentially inadequate care for patients.
“It is fundamentally an issue of patient safety and health-care transparency,” said CSMS President Michael Saffir, MD in a statement. He asserted that patients would be better served by a physician-APRN team approach to care.
“Studies have shown that the team-based model, where physicians and APRNs collaborated to provide coordinated patient care, is the most effective approach to quality patient care,” Saffir said. “This bill moves in the opposite direction, by removing collaboration and fragmenting the care team. It is difficult to see how this change will improve patient care, and it does nothing to address the need for health-care transparency in Connecticut.”
Of primary concern among CSMS members were nurse-practitioner educational training, practice oversight and how the three-year collaboration with a physician would be structured.
The bill, titled “An Act Concerning the Governor’s Recommendations to Improve Access to Health Care” (SB 36) passed both the House and the Senate in April. CSMS called on Malloy to veto the measure when it got to his desk. However, the governor signed it in late May.
That was good news for Laima Karosas, health policy chair of the Connecticut Advanced Practice Registered Nurses Society (APRNS).
“It’s a wonderful thing that happened,” says Karosas. “We are exuberant because this is a long time in coming. I think there was an overwhelming cry out there where [people said] ‘You know what? We do need all hands on deck.’”
Karosas, who is director of the nurse practitioner program at Quinnipiac University’s School of Nursing and is a clinical associate professor of nursing there, believes fear of competition might be a contributing factor for at least some resistance to the bill.
“The scope of practice remains the same, so I think their fear is unfounded,” she says. “I think the places where we work and the services we provide are just to a different clientele.”
Plus, nurse practitioners who are independent will continue to work in concert with a physician, Karosas says.
“I want to have someone I can go to [to consult with],” she says. “I see us as very complementary. I think we need to support each other. It’s a very fragmented system we have, and nurse practitioners are part of the solution.”
Karosas adds that the training and educational requirements for nurse practitioners at Quinnipiac are substantial and she does not foresee any changes because of the bill.
“No, I don’t think we’ll change at all,” she says, adding that “the world has changed tremendously” in terms of healthcare delivery needs. Through the Quinnipiac nurse practitioner program, she says, “I also think we’re keeping up with the times.”
Over the past 26 years, about one-fifth of Connecticut’s working population has held a part-time job, according to the Connecticut Economic Digest. In a May article, author and Department of Labor Economist Matthew Krzyzek notes that reasons for securing part-time work vary from inability to find full-time work to medical limitations to school enrollment to family/child-care obligations. Data from 2012 show that 69.5 percent (266,000) of the state’s 383,000 part-time workers were female. Part-time was defined as less than 35 work hours per week. Krzyzek writes that the lowest number of part-time hours worked were in the following sectors: leisure and hospitality, other services and education and health services.