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Transforming Apprenticeships for the 21st Century

UPS apprenticeship

Today’s post was shared by US Dept. of Labor and comes from social.dol.gov

On Wednesday, President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden visited Pennsylvania to announce new actions to enhance job-driven training across America. A key focus of the president’s remarks was how apprenticeships are one of the clearest paths to good, high-paying jobs. As he mentioned, 9 out of 10 apprentices get hired for full-time jobs after completing their program, and the average starting wage for apprenticeship graduates is more than $50,000. Expanding apprenticeship opportunities will give more Americans a chance to secure a foothold in the middle class.

Several new efforts will help double the number of apprenticeships over the next five years, a goal the president laid out in his State of the Union address. For the first time, the Labor Department is making $100 million available help more workers participate in apprenticeships. The grant competition will launch this fall and will be funded by fees employers pay through the H-1B visa program to hire temporary high-skilled foreign workers.

Using these existing funds, the new American Apprenticeship Grants competition will focus on partnerships between employers, labor organizations, training providers, community colleges, local and state governments, the workforce system, nonprofits and faith-based organizations. These partnerships will help expand tried-and-true apprenticeship models to newer, high-growth fields like information technology, health care and advanced manufacturing; making sure…

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Lawsuit challenges a Hollywood pillar: Unpaid internships

Eric Glatt

Today’s post was shared by The Workers’ Injury Law & Advocacy Group and comes from www.latimes.com

Melvin Mar’s entrée to Hollywood was far from glamorous. As an unpaid intern for "Platoon" producer Arnold Kopelson, Mar was responsible for fetching his boss’ lunch of matzo ball soup every day.

Mar calculated to the minute how long it would take to walk from the production company’s Century City offices to the Stage Deli nearby, buy the soup and decant it into a bowl on Kopelson’s desk, still piping hot, at precisely 1 p.m.

Mar parlayed his internship into jobs at DreamWorks and Scott Rudin Productions. Now Mar is a producer for "Bad Teacher" filmmaker Jake Kasdan — and he says he owes a lot to the lessons he learned as a humble Hollywood gofer 15 years ago.

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"The soup — it was about getting it right, the details," said Mar, 35. "It prepared me for everything else."

Uncompensated minions are as central to the movie business as private jets, splashy premieres and $200 lunches. But the Hollywood tradition is under assault.

A class action by former interns on the 2010 film "Black Swan" could radically change the industry’s reliance on unpaid neophytes. The suit seeks back pay, damages and an order barring use of unpaid interns at Fox Searchlight Pictures and other units of Fox Entertainment Group.

A legal victory for the plaintiffs "would bring to a halt the many unpaid internships that offer real value to participants, giving them experiences and opportunities they would not otherwise receive,"…

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Lawsuit kicks off class action claims against GM

General Motors Co’s new chief executive Mary Barra addresses the media during a roundtable meeting with journalists in Detroit, Michigan January 23, 2014. REUTERS/Carlos Osorio/Pool

Today’s post was shared by The Workers’ Injury Law & Advocacy Group and comes from www.reuters.com

NEW YORK (Reuters) – General Motors was hit on Friday with what appeared to be the first lawsuit related to the recall of 1.6 million cars, as customers claimed their vehicles lost value because of ignition problems blamed for a series of fatal crashes.

The proposed class action, filed in federal court in Texas, said GM knew about the problem since 2004, but failed to fix it, creating "unreasonably dangerous" conditions for drivers of the affected models.

"GM’s mishandling of the ignition switch defect….has adversely affected the company’s reputation as a manufacturer of safe, reliable vehicles with high resale value," the lawsuit said.

The recall has led to government criminal and civil investigations, an internal probe by GM, and preparations for hearings by Congress. All ask why GM took so long to address a problem it has said first came to its attention in 2001.

A GM spokesman, Greg Martin, said the company has apologized for how it handled the recall and that taking care of customers was its first priority. He did not comment on the lawsuit.

The plaintiffs are seeking damages from GM that include compensation for loss of the use of their vehicles and repairs and diminished resale value. They are not claiming they were injured in accidents stemming from ignition problems.

The lawsuit is reminiscent of claims faced by Toyota Motor Corp, which recalled more than 10 million vehicles starting in 2009. Toyota last year received approval for a settlement…

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After Bangladesh Factory Collapse, Bleak Struggle for Survivors

Today’s post was shared by Gelman on Workplace Injuries and comes from www.nytimes.com

SAVAR, Bangladesh — Inside the single room he shares with his wife and young child, Hasan Mahmud Forkan does not sleep easily. Some nights he hears the screams of the garment workers he tried to rescue from the wreckage of the Rana Plaza factory building. Or he dreams the bed itself is collapsing, sucking him down into a bottomless void.

A few miles away, at a rehabilitation center for the disabled, Rehana Khatun is learning to walk again. She lost both legs in the Rana Plaza collapse and worries that she is not improving because her prosthetic replacements are bulky and uncomfortable. She is only 20 and once hoped to save money so she could return to her village and pay for her own wedding.

“No, I don’t have that dream anymore,” she said, with a cold pragmatism more than self-pity. “How can I take care of a family?”

Eight months ago, the collapse of Rana Plaza became the deadliest disaster in the history of the garment industry, and many of the survivors still face an uncertain future. The shoddily constructed building pancaked down onto workers stitching clothes for global brands like Children’s Place, Benetton, C & A, Primark and many others. Workers earning as little as $38 a month were crushed under tons of falling concrete and steel. More than 1,100 people died and many others were injured or maimed.

But while the Rana Plaza disaster stirred an international outcry — and shamed many international clothing companies…

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“60 Minutes” Misses the Mark on Social Security Disability

Today’s post comes from guest author Kristina Brown Thompson, from The Jernigan Law Firm.

What happens when a major journalism program runs a program without interviewing both sides? You get something like what “60 Minutes” aired in early October in “Disability, USA.” It’s one of the media’s favorite topics, “exposing” disability fraud on the part of the claimant. But how much truth is there to the allegations made on “60 Minutes”?

After watching the show, the viewer is lead to believe that almost anyone with any medical condition could be approved for Social Security Disability. You hear from an administrative law judge that the standards are too lax. However, over 66% of all disability claims are initially denied. Thereafter, only about 10% win disability benefits on appeal. The application and appeal process alone takes months, if not years. This sure doesn’t sound like an easy way to survive. Even if benefits are ultimately awarded, they are taxable and paid only on a monthly basis with the average disability payment of about $1,100.00.

While it’s true the number of disability claimants has increased, this is hardly surprising. Overall, we have an aging population which increases the ratio of disabled claimants. Likewise, with jobs scarce, those with disabilities are having an increasingly difficult time finding work.

It’s very disappointing that no one at “60 Minutes” took the time to interview a single disability applicant. If they had taken the time, they would have learned that the application is an arduous process. Failure to present your medical records or respond within strict timeframes, results in an automatic denial. Recently, one of our workers’ compensation clients reported that he underwent two separate disability applications and four appeals (cumulatively) before finally being approved in 2013. He has been out of work since 2006.

For more information, check out “Just the Facts” as well as this article published by the National Organization of Social Security Claimant Representatives in response to “Disability, USA.”  

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Temporary Work, Lasting Harm

Today’s post was shared by Jon Gelman and comes from www.propublica.org

Ninety minutes into his first day on the first job of his life, Day Davis, pictured above, was called over to help at Palletizer No. 4 at the Bacardi bottling plant in Jacksonville, Fla. Above is a composite image of the times Davis is seen in a surveillance video before an all-too-common story for temp workers unfolded.

A version of this story was produced by Univision and will air tonight at 6:30 p.m.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – This was it, he told his brother Jojo. He would finally be able to pay his mother back for the fender bender, buy some new shoes and, if things went well, maybe even start a life with his fiancee who was living in Atlanta.

After getting his high school diploma, completing federal job training and sending out dozens of applications, Day Davis, 21, got a job. It was through a temp agency and didn’t pay very much, but he would be working at the Bacardi bottling plant, making the best-selling rum in the world.

Davis called his mother to tell her the good news and ask if she could pick him up so he could buy the required steel-toe boots, white shirt and khaki pants and get to the factory for a 15-minute orientation before his 3 p.m. shift.

Word spread quickly through the family. “Me and my brother was like, ‘Don’t mess up now, you got to do good, don’t mess up,’ ” said his younger sister, Nia.

It was a humid 90 degrees as Davis walked into Bacardi’s Warehouse No. 7 to the rattle of glass bottles,…

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As Robot-Assisted Surgery Expands, Are Patients And Providers Getting Enough Information?

Today’s post was shared by Gelman on Workplace Injuries and comes from www.kaiserhealthnews.org

The use of robotic surgical systems is expanding rapidly, but hospitals, patients and regulators may not be getting enough information to determine whether the high tech approach is worth its cost.

Problems resulting from surgery using robotic equipment—including deaths—have been reported late, inaccurately or not at all to the Food and Drug Administration, according to one study.

The study, published in the Journal for Healthcare Quality earlier this year, focused on incidents involving Intuitive Surgical’s da Vinci Robotic Surgical System over nearly 12 years, scrubbing through several data bases to find troubled outcomes. Researchers found 245 incidents reported to the FDA, including 71 deaths and 174 nonfatal injuries. But they also found eight cases in which reporting fell short, including five cases in which no FDA report was filed at all.

The FDA assesses and approves products based on reported device-related complications. If a medical device malfunctions, hospitals are required to report the incident to the manufacturer, which then reports it to the agency. The FDA, in turn, creates a report for its Manufacturer and User Facility Device Experience database.

The use of surgical robots has grown rapidly since it was first approved for laparoscopic surgery (a type of surgery that uses smaller incisions than in traditional surgery) by the FDA in 2000. Between 2007 and 2011 the number of da Vinci systems installed increased by 75 percent in the United…

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FEMA: No extensions to file superstorm Sandy insurance suits

Originally published: November 21, 2013 6:27 PM
Updated: November 21, 2013 7:13 PM
By JOE RYAN  joe.ryan@newsday.com

Greg Snow attempts to clear debris from superstorm
Greg Snow attempts to clear debris from superstorm…

Photo credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara | Greg Snow attempts to clear debris from superstorm Sandy from his yard on Atlantic Street in Lindenhurst. (Nov. 1, 2012)

The National Flood Insurance Program Thursday rejected requests from Sen. Charles Schumer and others to extend the deadline for homeowners to file lawsuits arguing for more money to cover damage from superstorm Sandy.

The government insurer, run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, issued a memo to private companies that administer flood policies, saying the 12-month statute of limitations is dictated by federal law and cannot be moved.

“FEMA lacks the authority to extend the time limit to file a lawsuit established by statute,” wrote James Sadler, director of claims for the flood insurance program.

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According to FEMA, homeowners must sue within one year of having any portion of their flood insurance claim denied in writing.

Schumer (D-N.Y.), Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) and others have argued that the deadline doesn’t give Sandy victims enough time. They asked…

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