65th Annual Safety and Health Conference – Spokane, WA

One of the largest safety and health conferences in the nation will be held in Spokane, WA at the end of the month.

The 65th annual Governor’s Industrial Safety and Health Conference takes place on Sept. 28 and 29 at the Spokane Convention Center. Registration is open now.

The event is geared toward workers, employers and safety and health professionals. It brings together industry experts to deliver a program of cutting-edge education, special events, demonstrations and networking.

The two-day conference kicks off with safety trainer and motivational speaker Dale Lesinski talking about human nature and how it relates to safety at work.

Featured conference events and activities include:       

  • Two days of 70-plus industry workshops
  • An exhibition hall with displays of the latest products and services to improve your safety, health and wellness programs
  • The annual Forklift Rodeo
  • Pre-conference OSHA 10 General Industry Safety and Health Training
  • Pre-conference Bakken Oil Transport Emerging Risks Awareness Training

The 2016 Governor’s Lifesaving Awards will be presented during a luncheon at the conference on Thursday, Sept. 29. The awards, presented by KREM 2 news anchor Laura Papetti, recognize people whose heroic acts saved a life at work. People can attend the luncheon separately or as part of the conference. The luncheon costs $25.

A $200 advance registration fee covers the two-day conference, with special discounts for groups of five or more. Students and registered apprentices pay only $50. A box lunch is included on the 28th.

The Governor’s Industrial Safety and Health Advisory Board and the Department of Labor & Industries sponsor the conference with support from industry partners.

For more information or to register, visit www.wagovconf.org. For questions, call 360-902-5415 or email info@wagovconf.org. TDD users call 1-360-902-5797.

Photo credit: Peter Kaminski via Foter.com / CC BY 




Seattle Port Commission Approves Funding for Design of Solar Project

The Port of Seattle Commission approved funding for design of the Port’s first-ever solar demonstration project. The project at Fishermen’s Terminal is included as part of a routine replacement of net-shed roofs. The net-sheds house the fishing nets and gear for the North Pacific Fishing Fleet.

Solar power has sparked the interest of Commissioners who, this year, convened the Energy and Sustainability Committee to guide the Port’s policies related to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and increasing energy efficiency.

“As we explore innovative policies to guide the reduction of our carbon footprint, I am encouraged that this demonstration project could lead the way for additional solar project opportunities at the Port in the future,” said Port Commissioner Fred Felleman.

Planners estimate that the net-shed solar panels could produce 11,000 kilowatts of electricity per year, reducing carbon emissions by 279 pounds in the first year. The project could be in place by the end of 2017. The demonstration project will be designed to help the Port gain in-house knowledge about the benefits and challenges of solar projects, including installation, operation, and maintenance. The design will also include public education components for visitors to visualize the benefits of solar power.

Engineers are also looking at the feasibility of installing solar panels at Pier 69, the Port of Seattle headquarters on the Seattle Waterfront, as well as other Port properties. The potential exists to offset carbon emissions by hundreds of thousands of pounds per year, reducing greenhouse gases that lead to climate change.

About the Port of Seattle

Founded in 1911, the Port owns and operates Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, two cruise ship terminals, Fishermen’s Terminal — home of the North Pacific Fishing Fleet, one grain terminal, a public cargo terminal, four public marinas, and manages a number of real estate assets for financial return and economic advantage. The port’s operations currently help create nearly 200,000 jobs and $7 billion in wages throughout the region. Over the next 25 years, the port’s “Century Agenda” seeks to create an additional 100,000 jobs through economic growth while becoming the nation’s leading green and energy-efficient port. Learn more at www.portseattle.org.


Former Corrections Officer Charged with Felony in $100,000 Workers’ Comp Scam

A former corrections officer stands accused of holding three security jobs while claiming his on-the-job injury was so serious he couldn’t work.

A Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) investigation caught John J. Gruden, 43, on video jogging on a treadmill and sidewalk, and driving to work at the Phoenix Police Department. All of this occurred while he was receiving workers’ compensation disability payments totaling more than $100,000 over five years.

Gruden, who was injured while working as a corrections officer at Monroe Correctional Complex, has been charged with felony first-degree theft based on his work activity.

Gruden is now believed to be living in Michigan.

The Washington Attorney General’s Office is prosecuting the case based on L&I’s investigation. The charge was filed in Snohomish County Superior Court.

Injures ankle at Monroe prison

Gruden injured his right ankle and foot when someone fell on him during training at the Monroe state prison in May 2011.

That August, he moved to Arizona, where he regularly declared on official forms and told L&I vocational counselors that he could not work, and wasn’t working, due to his on-the-job injury, charging papers said. His declarations, coupled with physician confirmations, allowed Gruden to receive L&I payments to replace part of his wages.

Surveillance to check injuries

In 2014, an L&I claim manager requested surveillance to check on the extent of Gruden’s abilities and injuries, and closely monitored his case. In 2015, the claim manager requested additional surveillance, which revealed Gruden was driving to a job.

L&I, with the help of an out-of-state investigation firm, determined Gruden had actually been working full time as a security professional for nearly the entire time he told L&I he wasn’t employed.


Police assistant for Phoenix Police

Starting in the fall of 2011, he worked for a private security firm for eight months, then as a public safety aide for Maricopa County Community College for two-and-a-half years. His annual salary at the community college was posted at more than $34,600, charging papers said.

While still working at the community college, he was a full-time police officer assistant/municipal security guard for the Phoenix Police Department from July 2014 until early 2016.

“Making false claims about your work status to get workers’ comp benefits is a crime,” said Elizabeth Smith, assistant director of L&I’s Fraud Prevention & Labor Standards. “Fraud raises costs for the employers and employees who depend on the workers’ comp system to help injured workers heal and return to work. Tell us if you know of someone who’s trying to cheat the system.”

Report fraud on L&I’s Fraud Prevention and Compliance webpage or call 888-811-5974.


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At -57’, Seattle to Become One of the Deepest Harbors in North America

Army Corps of Engineers Releases Seattle Harbor Draft Feasibility Report & Environmental Assessment

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is seeking public comment on the Seattle Harbor Navigation Improvement Project Draft Feasibility Report and Environmental Assessment released on August 2nd. Comments will be accepted through Aug.31, 2016.

The Army Corps of Engineers and the Port of Seattle have agreed on a tentatively selected plan of -57 feet Mean Lower Low Water (MLLW) for both the East and West Waterways. This depth will allow the Port of Seattle, part of The Northwest Seaport Alliance, to handle the current and future generations of ultra-large containerships.

“The Port of Seattle, part of The Northwest Seaport Alliance, is a strategic gateway for goods entering the U.S. and vital for Northwest exports,” said Port of Seattle Commission President and The Northwest Seaport Alliance Co-Chair John Creighton.

“Large ships with deep drafts are being deployed globally and on the West Coast. Authorization of a depth of 57 feet will preserve our gateway’s ability to provide sufficient depth for the future fleet of ships,” stressed Port of Tacoma Commission President and The Northwest Seaport Alliance Co-chair Connie Bacon.

The study developed an array of alternatives for deepening the East and West waterways. It performed extensive economic, technical and environmental analysis and modeling to evaluate the alternatives. The selected plan maximizes the national economic development benefits, is technically feasible and environmentally sustainable. 

The environmental assessment identifies and analyzes the environmental effects of the alternatives for deepening, incorporates environmental concerns into the decision making process and determines whether further environmental analysis is necessary.

The Port of Seattle, a partner in The Northwest Seaport Alliance, is the non-federal project sponsor working with the Corps to complete this feasibility study. Public comments on the proposed plan and alternatives will be considered as the Corps works toward completing the navigation improvement plan. Members of the public are encouraged to visit the Corps’ website to view the tentatively selected plan and supporting documents.

Comments on the Draft Feasibility Report and Environmental Assessment may be submitted by email, at the upcoming public meeting or in written form.

Comments will be accepted via email to SeattleHarbor@usace.army.mil or can be mailed to:

Nancy Gleason
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
P.O. Box 3755
Seattle, Washington 98124-3755       

All mailed comments must be postmarked by Aug. 31, 2016.


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As Shipowners Slash Costs, Some Crews Are Left Behind

By Keith Wallis – Reuters, Aug 27, 2016

Unpaid, underfed, and thousands of miles from home on a rusting tanker, captain Munir Hasan says he is a victim of a shipowner who has slashed costs in the face of an eight-year shipping downturn. 

Marooned on the medium-sized tanker Amba Bhakti that is moored close to Shanghai and is in urgent need of repair, Hasan claims he and his crew of four from India and Bangladesh have not received their wages from the owner, Varun Shipping, since February and are now owed tens of thousands of dollars.

Hasan said the crew has had to rely on handouts of basic food, such as rice and noodles, from V.Ships, a company that had operated the ship under contract for the owner before resigning in July.

“In the last 29 years of my sea career, I have never faced such a situation,” said Hasan, a 50-year-old sea captain from Bangladesh. Reuters couldn’t independently confirm certain aspects of Hasan’s account.

Varun has not responded to repeated queries from Reuters via email, and it declined to comment when reached by phone. When a Reuters reporter went to its offices in Mumbai, India on Aug. 18, company officials declined to comment on the matter, saying that management was busy.

Scott Moffitt, a V.Ships representative based in Singapore, told Reuters via email on Aug. 4 that it terminated three ship management contracts with Varun, including the one for the Amba Bhakti, “due to unpaid fees, including crew wages.”

Moffitt said that V.Ships “became increasingly worried about their (the crew’s) plight” and that “legal arrangements are under way to secure the back wages.”


The crew’s predicament underscores the desperate time faced by an increasing number of seafarers working on so-called “sweatships” around the world, as the shipping industry faces its worst downturn in 30 years.

Slack demand at a time when the size of the fleet of ships was increasing, drove dry cargo charter rates for products like coal and iron ore to historic lows earlier this year. It has led to the collapse of several shipping firms and has left many others fighting for survival.

The result is that crews and their support groups, such as the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF), are finding it difficult to force ship owners, many of whom cannot be easily located, to meet basic obligations. While “minimum working and living standards for all seafarers” were set in 2013 by the International Labour Organization, enforcing them isn’t easy.

Overall, shipping costs in the industry have come down by 20-30 percent from their peaks almost two years ago, shipping sources say. This has been achieved through savings in many areas, including fuel costs, reducing length of port stays, and cuts in provisions, crew travel costs and spending on equipment.

But the overcapacity in the industry is so great that it isn’t enough. Charter rates for tankers or container ships often don’t cover operating expenses, and both shippers and the analysts who follow them largely agree there won’t be any real improvement until 2018-2020.

For example, the average payment for a capesize bulk carrier capable of carrying 170,000 tonnes of iron ore or coal has been $5,393 per day so far this year, according to data from shipping services firm Clarkson. And yet, accountancy firm Moore Stephens pegs daily operating costs for a similar capesize ship at around $7,300 per day.

Not all shippers have cut crew provisions drastically, though a number say they have been reducing costs.

Duncan Telfer, commercial director at Swire Pacific Ltd’s Swire Pacific Offshore, which owns around 85 offshore support vessels, said his company was trying to trim costs where reasonable, without compromising crew safety.

“There are many ways of cutting costs. Bottled water is an example. Is it really necessary to have bottled water if you have potable water available on-board?” he asked.


The number of ships being seized and held by the authorities because they are unsafe is rising. For example, there were 202 ships detained last year by the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) for environmental or safety deficiencies, up from 143 in 2014, the USCG said in its 2015 annual report.

Rear Admiral Paul Thomas, assistant commandant for Prevention Policy at USCG, told Reuters that because of the low shipping rates and overcapacity, “vessel maintenance can take a back seat in order to minimize operating costs.”

Shipping executives contacted in Singapore and Hong Kong also said some shippers were cutting back on food and drink costs. They said crews had faced a shift from steak to cans of spam meat, and from fresh to canned fruit, among other cost reductions.


Jason Lam, inspector for the ITF in Hong Kong, says in the first seven months of the year he dealt with 115 ship safety cases, a faster pace than the 161 cases recorded in all of 2015 and 126 in the whole of 2014, usually involving unpaid crew wages or poor working conditions. He said it was clear that some shipping companies are “refusing to supply their ships” because of the weak shipping markets.

In one case, the New Imperial Star – a large passenger ship that was used for gambling cruises in the South China Sea – failed Hong Kong safety inspections and has been detained in port since November, according to Hong Kong Marine Department records.

The ship was sold to a buyer in an auction by the Hong Kong authorities on Tuesday and the proceeds will be partly used to pay outstanding wages. The identity of the new owner couldn’t immediately be ascertained.

The telephone number of the ship’s previous owner, Hong Kong registered Skywill Management Limited, was not operable this week, and the company has differing addresses listed in Hong Kong company directories.


In another case, the Five Stars Fujian, a coal carrier, has been sitting near the Great Barrier Reef, off Australia’s east coast, for a month with supplies diminishing and salaries going unpaid.

The ITF in Australia said that there were 21 Chinese men onboard as of August 14, and that the crew hadn’t received wages since June and were now “very low on provisions.”

The Hong Kong Shipowners Association (HKSOA) said last week that it was “extremely concerned about the seafarers on the vessel, and that its crew had “effectively been abandoned by the owner.”

There were no signs of the firm at Five Stars Fujian Shipping’s registered address in Hong Kong.

Back at the Amba Bhakti, the crew have turned to outside groups for help.

Reuters has viewed an email that Hasan sent on Aug. 2 to the Mission To Seafarers, an international crew support group, and the ITF, in which he said that they had been “held up on board … without wages for six months,” adding: “We are requesting your immediate help to save our families.”

In response, the ITF has been pressing the owners and organizing support for the crew.

The sailors have been employed on various contracts lasting from two to nine months to meet international rules governing minimum crew levels even though the ship has been languishing near Shanghai for three years. The main and auxiliary engines that would power generators and deck equipment need to be repaired.

Two crew members had already given up and gone home, including the ship’s chief engineer, Mohammed Abdul Mazid, according to Hasan. Reuters was unable to reach Mazid for comment.

Hasan said Mazid left the ship in tears to return to Bangladesh in July despite being owed $73,000 in back pay.

(Reporting by Keith Wallis in HONG KONG, Aradhana Aravindan in SINGAPORE, and Rajendra Jadhav in MUMBAI; Writing by Henning Gloystein; Editing by Martin Howell)

Photo: The New Imperial Star casino cruiser is seen at Victoria Harbour in Hong Kong, China April 15, 2016. REUTERS/Bobby Yip/iveile Photo

© 2016 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.


Alki Construction Fined For Death of Worker

The Washington State Department of Labor and Industries fined Alki Construction Company over $50,000 for the death of worker Harold Felton.  Felton, a 36-year-old construction worker, was replacing a sewer line in a poorly constructed trench on January 26th, 2016, when the soil walls of the trench collapsed and killed him.  

Alki Construction Company, based in West Seattle, was cited for seven different violations, totaling $51,500.  They include a “willful” violation for not ensuring that the trench had a system to prevent cave-ins, along with five “serious” violations:

  • Alki Construction did not have a formal accident prevention program tailored to the needs of the operation and the type of hazards involved in trenching and excavation work ($3,500).

  • There was no ladder, ramp or other safe means of exiting the excavated trench ($3,500).

  • Sidewalks and structures that were undermined were not supported to protect employees from possible collapse ($3,000).

  • Excavated dirt and other materials were placed less than two feet from the edge of the unprotected trench, where they could fall into the trench where employees were working ($3,000).

  • There were no daily inspections of the excavations to monitor changing soil conditions ($3,500).

  • One general violation was cited for not ensuring walk-around safety inspections were documented.

A “willful” violation occurs when L&I finds evidence of plain indifference or intentional disregard to a hazard or rule.  A serious violation is one where there is a substantial probability that a worker death or serious injury could result from a hazardous condition.  Alki Construction has now been labeled a “severe violator”, and will be subject to follow-up inspections in the future.

Working in trenches is highly dangerous.  Felton’s death is the first trenching fatality in Washington since 2008, but the third in the United States to occur in the month of January 2016.  A total of twenty workers have been killed in the U.S. while working in trenches in the past year (9/2/2015 through 9/2/2016).  

Hazardous jobs, such as trenching, require extensive safety protocols be enforced to help prevent death or serious injury.  As Dr. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA, has said: “Making a living shouldn’t have to cost you your life. Workplace fatalities, injuries, and illnesses are preventable. Safe jobs happen because employers make the choice to fulfill their responsibilities and protect their workers.”  This tragedy sadly demonstrates the consequences of an employer failing to fulfill those responsibilities.

The employer is allotted 15 work days within which to file an appeal of this decision.  Any monies collected from fines will be placed in the L&I workers’ compensation supplemental fund, which helps workers and families of workers who have died on the job.  

Mr. Felton was married with a four-month-old baby daughter at the time of his death.

Mrs. Felton and their daughter are entitled to benefits including burial expenses and survivorship benefits through the Department of Labor and Industries. Because this injury happened in the course of covered employment, it is unlikely that any additional negligence law suit against the employer is possible. – Editor

Photo Credit: West Seattle Blog


OSHA: Workplace Safety Plans

Workers have the right to a safe workplace. The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act) was passed to prevent workers from being killed or seriously harmed at work. The law requires employers to provide their employees with working conditions that are free of known dangers. The OSH Act created the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) which sets and enforces protective workplace safety and health standards. To help assure a safe and healthful workplace, OSHA also provides workers with the right to:

  • Ask OSHA to inspect their workplace;
  • Use their rights under the law without retaliation and discrimination;
  • Receive information and training about hazards, methods to prevent harm, and the OSHA standards that apply to their workplace. The training must be in a language you can understand;
  • Get copies of test results done to find hazards in the workplace;
  • Review records of work-related injuries and illnesses;
  • Get copies of their medical records.

In addition, OSHA provides information, training, and assistance to workers and employers.

Workers may file a complaint to have OSHA inspect their workplace if they believe that their employer is not following OSHA standards or that there are serious hazards. Contact the OSHA office nearest you by calling OSHA’s toll free number: 1-800-321-OSHA (6742) or TTY 1-877-889-5627 if you have questions or want to file a complaint. All information will be kept confidential. For more information, go to OSHA’s Workers page.

Select a state from the map to show contact information**.

States Map

**Note: Twenty-six states, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands have OSHA-approved State Plans. Twenty-two State Plans (21 states and one U.S. territory) cover both private and state and local government workplaces. The remaining six State Plans (five states and one U.S. territory) cover state and local government workers only. This map requires javascript to be enabled. A text version is also available.

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NYT: What if PTSD Is More Physical Than Psychological?

There’s exciting new science about blast injuries in war zones – but of course, even as the military begins confronting it, the contractors with Defense Base Act claims get dumped into a civilian health care market that has no idea what they’re looking at, diagnosed with PTSD, and told to deal with it.

By ROBERT F. WORTH, New York Times

In early 2012, a neuropathologist named Daniel Perl was examining a slide of human brain tissue when he saw something odd and unfamiliar in the wormlike squiggles and folds. It looked like brown dust; a distinctive pattern of tiny scars. Perl was intrigued. At 69, he had examined 20,000 brains over a four-decade career, focusing mostly on Alzheimer’s and other degenerative disorders. He had peered through his microscope at countless malformed proteins and twisted axons. He knew as much about the biology of brain disease as just about anyone on earth. But he had never seen anything like this.

The brain under Perl’s microscope belonged to an American soldier who had been five feet away when a suicide bomber detonated his belt of explosives in 2009. The soldier survived the blast, thanks to his body armor, but died two years later of an apparent drug overdose after suffering symptoms that have become the hallmark of the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan: memory loss, cognitive problems, inability to sleep and profound, often suicidal depression. Nearly 350,000 service members have been given a diagnosis of traumatic brain injury over the past 15 years, many of them from blast exposure. The real number is likely to be much higher, because so many who have enlisted are too proud to report a wound that remains invisible.

Daniel Perl is continuing to examine the brains of blast-injured soldiers. After five years of working with the military, he feels sure… that many blast injuries have not been identified. “We could be talking many thousands,” he said. “And what scares me is that what we’re seeing now might just be the first round. If they survive the initial injuries, many of them may develop C.T.E. years or decades later.” 

For years, many scientists have assumed that explosive blasts affect the brain in much the same way as concussions from football or car accidents. Perl himself was a leading researcher on chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or C.T.E., which has caused dementia in N.F.L. players. Several veterans who died after suffering blast wounds have in fact developed C.T.E. But those veterans had other, nonblast injuries too. No one had done a systematic post-mortem study of blast-injured troops. That was exactly what the Pentagon asked Perl to do in 2010, offering him access to the brains they had gathered for research. It was a rare opportunity, and Perl left his post as director of neuropathology at the medical school at Mount Sinai to come to Washington.

Perl and his lab colleagues recognized that the injury that they were looking at was nothing like concussion. The hallmark of C.T.E. is an abnormal protein called tau, which builds up, usually over years, throughout the cerebral cortex but especially in the temporal lobes, visible across the stained tissue like brown mold. What they found in these traumatic-brain-injury cases was totally different: a dustlike scarring, often at the border between gray matter (where synapses reside) and the white matter that interconnects it. Over the following months, Perl and his team examined several more brains of service members who died well after their blast exposure, including a highly decorated Special Operations Forces soldier who committed suicide. All of them had the same pattern of scarring in the same places, which appeared to correspond to the brain’s centers for sleep, cognition and other classic brain-injury trouble spots.

Then came an even more surprising discovery. They examined the brains of two veterans who died just days after their blast exposure and found embryonic versions of the same injury, in the same areas, and the development of the injuries seemed to match the time elapsed since the blast event. Perl and his team then compared the damaged brains with those of people who suffered ordinary concussions and others who had drug addictions (which can also cause visible brain changes) and a final group with no injuries at all. No one in these post-mortem control groups had the brown-dust pattern.

Perl’s findings, published in the scientific journal The Lancet Neurology, may represent the key to a medical mystery first glimpsed a century ago in the trenches of World War I. It was first known as shell shock, then combat fatigue and finally PTSD, and in each case, it was almost universally understood as a psychic rather than a physical affliction. Only in the past decade or so did an elite group of neurologists, physicists and senior officers begin pushing back at a military leadership that had long told recruits with these wounds to “deal with it,” fed them pills and sent them back into battle.

If Perl’s discovery is confirmed by other scientists — and if one of blast’s short-term signatures is indeed a pattern of scarring in the brain — then the implications for the military and for society at large could be vast. Much of what has passed for emotional trauma may be reinterpreted, and many veterans may step forward to demand recognition of an injury that cannot be definitively diagnosed until after death. There will be calls for more research, for drug trials, for better helmets and for expanded veteran care. But these palliatives are unlikely to erase the crude message that lurks, unavoidable, behind Perl’s discovery: Modern warfare destroys your brain.

Read the full article at the New York Times site.

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DOL: 7 Facts about the Minimum Wage

Sunday, July 24, marked seven years since the last time the federal minimum wage was raised. Here are seven things you might not know about it:

1. It doesn’t go nearly as far today.
Since the last time it was raised – to $7.25 in 2009 − the cost of living has increased by nearly 12 percent. And its value has declined over the past few decades: since Ronald Reagan took office in 1981, the value of the minimum wage has fallen by nearly 20 percent, and since 1968 – when the purchasing power of the minimum wage was at its highest – its value has fallen by nearly 25 percent.

2. Historically, there has been bipartisan support for regular increases.
Since the federal minimum wage was established under President Franklin Roosevelt, 10 presidents − of both parties – have approved raises.
Animated map showing the 18 states that have raised the minimum wage, along with the District of Columbia

3. 18 states and the District of Columbia have taken action to raise their minimum wages since President Obama first called for an increase in January 2013. Numerous cities and localities have done the same.

4. The majority of Americans supports raising the minimum wage above $7.25.
A majority of business executives do, too, according to a leaked survey.

5. Companies large and small have raised wages for their lowest-paid employees.
A few of biggest include Ikea, Gap, Walmart, Target and T.J. Maxx.

6. Most workers who would benefit from a minimum wage increase are adults.
About 9 out of 10 are age 20 or over. More than half are women.

7. The federal minimum wage for tipped workers is even lower.
It’s only $2.13 – and it hasn’t been raised since 1991.

Bonus fact: Seven recipients of the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences say it’s the smart thing and the right thing to do.

Share this if you agree it’s time to #RaiseTheWage for all hardworking Americans. Learn more at dol.gov/minwage.

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DOL: Get a STEM Job With Less Than a 4-Year Degree

With rising cost of a 4-year degree, more people are asking: is a bachelor’s degree really worth it? The short answer is yes. Bureau of Labor Statistics data show that most high-paying jobs require at least a bachelor’s degree for entry.

But there is a growing recognition that what workers really need are the right skills and credentials to fill specific jobs. To that end, more employers are creating apprenticeship programs to train employees on the job, and more workers are turning to community colleges for certificate programs or associate degrees required for certain in-demand fields.

So what are these jobs?

A number of them are in growing STEM fields – science, technology, engineering and math. We’ve identified a number of STEM jobs that need less than a bachelor’s degree to get started, and also pay close to or above the median for all occupations in May 2015: $36,200.

Chart showing STEM jobs that don't need a bachelor's degree that are also growing the fastest, 2014-2024

Two different ways to look at which STEM jobs have brightest future over the next decade are to ask what jobs aregrowing the fastest (above) and will have the most openings (below). These numbers are projections calculated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics every few years. In both charts, we’ve included median pay as of May 2015.

Jobs that fall into both categories are web developerscomputer user support specialists and computer network support specialistscivil engineering technicians; and environmental science and protection technicians, including health.

Chart showing STEM jobs that don't need a bachelor's degree and that have the most projected openings, 2014 to 2024.


Among all STEM jobs that don’t require a bachelor’s degree, most are likely to need an associate degree for entry, butsurveying and mapping technicians may need only a high school diploma and on-the-job training, while computer user support specialists often enter the occupation with only some college.

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Published by Causey Law Firm