Department of Labor

 

At a Glance

 

SHAUN B. CASHMAN, Commissioner

Thomas E. Hutton, Deputy Commissioner

Established - 1873

Statutory authority - CGS Sec. 31-1 to 31-403

Central office - 200 Folly Brook Blvd.,

Wethersfield, CT 06109-1114

Web site - www.ctdol.state.ct.us

Average number of full-time employees - 899

Recurring operating expenses - Federal - $80,988,417; State - $57,018,449

Capital outlay - Federal - $1,026,745; State - $41,764; CEPF - $411,433

Organizational structure - Central Office, Annex Office and 14 statewide One-Stop Career Centers

 

Mission

The Department of Labor is committed to protecting and promoting the interests of Connecticut workers. In order to accomplish this in today’s ever-changing environment, we must assist workers and employers in becoming competitive in the global economy. We must take a comprehensive approach to meeting the needs of workers, employers, and other agencies that serve them. We must provide the highest-quality, integrated services in response to our customers’ needs.

 

Statutory Responsibility

     Meeting the needs of workers and employers and assisting them to become competitive in the global economy is the Department of Labor’s focus. For workers, this is accomplished through income support between jobs, protection on the job, training programs, assistance in searching for jobs, and information about the economy, wages and the workplace. For employers, services include workplace data, labor market information, recruitment assistance, and programs to help maintain and upgrade employee skills, such as apprenticeship and customized job training. Informational services to both workers and employers, as well as enforcement responsibilities, include the payment of wages, health and safety, employment of minors, family and medical leave, representation by labor organizations, and resolution of labor disputes. As the Connecticut arm of the U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Department of Labor (DOL) collects, analyzes and disseminates workforce data to inform businesses, the general public, government planners and policymakers about employment issues and trends.

 

Public Service

     The Department of Labor provides many services to workers and employers at 14 One-Stop Career Centers located throughout the state. DOL’s website is also highly utilized by job seekers and employers interested in job fairs, wage standards, unemployment insurance, labor market information, and Connecticut’s Job Bank.

      On the federal level, Congress also recognizes that workforce development is key to a strong economy. As a result, it enacted the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) of 1998.  The Act, which took effect July 1, 2000, emphasizes that workforce services must be accountable, customer driven, locally designed, and able to deliver services and information to the business community and individuals. Through the Act, states have been given flexibility to initiate reforms to better integrate their workforce systems. As a result, workforce development has experienced many changes in the past three years and DOL has both a partnership and an administrative role in this evolving system.

     As part of the Workforce Investment Act, Governor Rowland established the Office for Workforce Competitiveness (OWC) to coordinate the workforce development activities and the Connecticut Employment and Training Commission (CETC) as the state workforce investment board. During program year 2002, based on census data and the resulting redistricting, the CETC began a process to consolidate the original eight Workforce Investment Boards (WIBs) into five. This change officially took place July 1, 2003. The local boards will develop their own five-year plans to meet the needs of their specific populations. DOL, working closely with OWC and the CETC, continues to play a key role in the effort to ensure the success of the workforce development system.

     This system emphasizes customer choice, universality (the ability to provide services and respond to the needs of any customer), integration of services, and performance-based outcomes. As a partner in this system, and as the state’s designated administrative agency for a portion of the Workforce Investment Act, the Agency has placed an emphasis on continuous improvement in terms of quality and customer satisfaction. Services offered by the agency include: employment programs for adults, dislocated workers, youth, and veterans; apprenticeship; unemployment insurance; the Wagner Peyser basic labor exchange; labor market information; and recruitment initiatives, such as a Connecticut Job Bank and regional job fairs. Financial incentives in the form of tax credits are also available to encourage employers to hire specific groups of workers, including job seekers with barriers to employment. Incentives include the Work Opportunity Tax Credit, Welfare-to-Work Tax Credit and Apprenticeship Tax Credit.

     DOL offers services to jobseekers by providing resources necessary to promote self-sufficiency in career choices and job search. At the 14 One-Stop career centers, resources include telephones, fax machines, computers, books, videos and newspapers to assist in job searches. Job seekers can also attend regional job fairs held throughout the state. Workshops conducted at every full service Center include résumé writing, interviewing techniques and career exploration. Internet access, available in every Center, allows individuals to search for job listings, post their résumé on Connecticut’s Job Bank, and research companies or labor market trends.  DOL’s Career Development Specialists assist with job searches and career decisions, providing their expertise as board-certified members of the Professional Association of Résumé Writers, and as members of the National Board for Certified Counselors, Inc. Staff also provide career counseling through use of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator personality assessment guide.

     Services offered to businesses include Connecticut’s Job Bank, providing online access to thousands of résumés and the opportunity for a company to post job openings. Other services include regional job fairs, labor market information, apprenticeship programs, and recruitment assistance – often in the form of specialized job fairs held at the Centers.

     The DOL also collaborates with the Department of Social Services by administering the Jobs First program, helping state welfare recipients become employed and independent of cash assistance. Partnerships with the Department of Economic and Community Development and the Connecticut Development Authority are designed to provide training grants and loans to Connecticut businesses. These opportunities help businesses remain competitive and upgrade their workers’ skills.

     The DOL also provides a Rapid Response service to companies that are closing or downsizing, and to the affected employees. The Rapid Response Team serves to ease the impact of layoffs and to ensure that workers are made aware of the full range of benefits and services available to them. The team, headed by DOL, also includes the local Workforce Investment Board, the Department Economic and Community Development and the Department of Social Services. Additional Labor Department services include:

·      providing a safe and healthful working environment through DOL’s Connecticut Occupational Safety and Health Division (Conn-OSHA). The division enforces health and safety standards in public sector workplaces by conducting safety inspections, responding to complaints or requests, and investigating fatalities and serious accidents. Citations are issued where violations are discovered. Safety training and on-site safety and health consultations are provided to private and public sector employers on request and the division offers no-cost technical assistance and information services on workplace hazards. The division also administers the Occupational Health Clinic Program, coordinating grants-in-aid to occupational and auxiliary occupational health clinics.

·      protecting and defining the statutory rights of employees to form, join, or assist labor organizations through the State Board of Labor Relations. The Board encourages and protects the right of employees and employers to bargain collectively and remedies certain practices on the part of employees and employers that are detrimental to the collective bargaining process and to the general public.

·      providing mediation and arbitration services to employers and employee organizations in the public and private sector through the State Board of Mediation and Arbitration

·      an appeals process through the Employment Security Appeals Division, an independent, quasi-judicial agency within DOL. The division conducts appeal hearings as a result of the granting or denial of unemployment insurance benefits, and is comprised of adjudicators, a referee section and the Board of Review.

·      helping to promote prosperous and stable workplaces, the Wage and Workplace Standards Division administers a wide range of workplace laws. Among these laws is the minimum wage (currently $6.90 per hour), overtime laws, wage payment laws, prevailing wage and employment of minors. Delivery of these services has evolved into a proactive educational outreach program where the laws are accessible through booklets, pamphlets and the Internet. On January 1, 2004, the minimum wage will increase to $7.10. Public Act 02-69 required an annual adjustment of prevailing wages rates each July 1st on public work projects advertised for bid after October 1, 2002.

·      ensuring an equitable tax program through DOL’s Tax Division, protecting and serving both workers and employers through enforcement of the Unemployment Compensation law.

·      Rapid Response services for companies and their workers experiencing plant closure or layoff.  For example, two Rapid Response sessions held this year at one company served approximately 300 individuals while four other sessions assisted more than 100 public service workers who lost their jobs as a result of the state’s budget crisis.

·      providing workforce information through the Office of Research to the Department of Economic and Community Development, the DOL’s Business Services representatives, One-Stop staff, and others for use in assisting companies considering expansion as well as out-of-state firms contemplating relocation to Connecticut.

·      supporting the state’s veterans with Veterans’ Employment Representatives at CTWorks Centers, as well as various out-stations throughout the state, including the State Department of Veterans Affairs in Rocky Hill. DOL Veterans’ Representatives also participate in the Transition Assistance Program (TAP) at the Groton submarine base. TAP helps men and women leaving the armed forces to transition to civilian careers.

 

Improvements/Achievements 2002-03

 Grants and Awards

·      Grant for outreach and marketing. Working with a federal grant of more than $1 million, the DOL created a pilot Center for Faith Based and Community Based Initiatives. The Center’s purpose is primarily an outreach and marketing effort, intended to promote the One-Stop Career Center services to Faith Based and Community Based organizations. These organizations often work to meet the immediate needs of their community or neighborhoods by informing them of the services available through the state. By working together, the goal is to ensure limited resources can be leveraged to serve many. The pilot has resulted in the creation of an informative website, accessed at www.ctdol.state.ct.us, that averaged 4,185 hits a day during the second quarter of 2003. Other successful outreach efforts include establishing contacts with more than 2,300 Faith Based and Community Based organizations and the dissemination of useful information to more than 130 of these organizations on a daily basis.  In May 2003, approximately 200 representatives from Faith Based and Community Based organizations attended a statewide conference, Bridges to Inclusion, to promote the benefits of leveraging resources with the One-Stop system.

·      Grants for dislocated workers. The agency was awarded three separate federal grants totaling approximately $2 million to serve workers dislocated from Cerro, Bridgeport Machines, Pepperidge Farms, Inc., Handy and Harman Co., Applica Consumer Products, and Inrange Technologies Corporation, Kaman Aerospace and Mystic Color Labs. The agency continues to administer a grant of up to $1.7 million awarded in January 2002 to serve workers dislocated from Ames Department Stores.

·      Award-winning websites. The Connecticut Education & Training ConneCTion, located at www.cttraining.info, and recipient of an award from the National Association of State Workforce Agencies, was recognized for its integration with the agency’s 2001 award-winning site, the Connecticut Job & Career ConneCTion (www.ctjobandcareer.org).  The site averages more than 40,000 visits every month and includes information on more than 7,400 training programs and courses as well as 275 providers of these programs, making it the most comprehensive source of information on education and training opportunities in Connecticut.

 

 

Technology and Automation Initiatives

·      Website certified for accessibility.  The Connecticut Portal Advisory Group certified the agency's website (www.ctdol.state.ct.us) for compliance with Connecticut's Universal Web Site Accessibility Policy for State websites.  The DOL site was redesigned to remove barriers that would prevent persons with disabilities full access to information on the site.

·         CTWorks Business System supports seamless delivery of services. The agency developed and implemented the Connecticut Works Business System (CTWBS) to integrate WIA, the Wagner-Peyser labor exchange and Jobs First Employment Services programs to replace what had been three separate systems. CTWBS is a significant accomplishment because of its extensive functionality, providing the tools to implement a seamless service delivery system - truly reflective of the One-Stop concept. The system enables staff to provide, track and manage services to customers including job matching and job referrals, workshops, and referrals to training and supportive services. CTWBS has nearly 800 registered users including staff from the Workforce Investment Boards, One-Stop Operators, community service providers, DOL and DSS.

·         Connecticut Job Bank: The job bank, also known as CJB, is now in its fourth year of successful operation. It will soon be accessible from the CTWorks Business System to enhance the goal of a One-Stop system for businesses and job seekers. More than 100,000 job seekers utilized CJB this past year, while approximately 42,000 businesses worked with DOL staff to post job openings.    

·      Network upgrade completed. The Information Technology department upgraded the network equipment in DOL offices around the state. This completed the upgrade of the agency computer network, allowing faster throughput to employee desktops.

·      Telephone Initial Claims System enhancements.  In response to recently legislated changes that mandate the use of more recently earned wages when computing eligibility for those affected, enhancements were made to the Connecticut unemployment insurance Telephone Initial Claims System. This allows for the automatic identification of impacted new claims and generation of wage requests for individuals who have insufficient wage credits using regular base period wages. These enhancements, implemented in March of 2003, allow more claimants to meet monetary requirements.

·      Fast, cost-effective New Hire reporting system aids in child support efforts.  To assist the effort of locating child support obligors, the agency provides New Hire information from employers to the Department of Social Services. To further support this effort, an Internet-based New Hire reporting system was established for Connecticut employers. Located at www.ctnewhires.com, Connecticut employers report an average of 600 new hires each week. The site gives Connecticut employers an easy, efficient means of reporting new hires, while eliminating mail and fax costs. The automated processing not only shortens the time it takes to add information to the state and national new hire directories, it also helps to get more child support for Connecticut’s families and shortens the time it takes to get it to them. 

·      LMI website redesign.  The agency’s Labor Market Information (LMI) website was redesigned to deliver the latest LMI news and current numbers in a more expedient and efficient manner. A feedback section added to the LMI site enables staff to respond to specific data needs and/or site problems. The LMI site averages more than 20,000 visits per month.  

·      Digital recording and video conferencing for appeals hearings. The Employment Security Appeals Division developed a digital recording system for hearings in its Waterbury office. Hearings are recorded onto CDs through a digital phone system rather than cassette tapes, improving the quality of the recording for future review and significantly decreasing the cost of recording hearings. The Appeals Division is currently running a pilot project to test the use of video conferencing for referee hearings. 

 

Customer Service Initiatives

·      New options for employers in the Telephone Tax System. An interactive voice response (IVR) application, implemented in February of 2003, now allows Connecticut employers to find out by phone whether they have a credit or debit tax payment balance. This new option also allows either an automatic transfer or referral to the appropriate tax unit.

·      Internet system for paying quarterly taxes: As an additional time and cost-saving measure, the agency’s website now provides employers with the ability to file quarterly reports online and pay unemployment compensation due via electronic funds transfer.

·      Protecting the statutory rights of employees. The State Board of Labor Relations defines and protects the statutory rights of employees to form, join, or assist labor organizations.  More than 90 percent of the cases filed with the Board of Labor Relations were resolved short of a Board hearing, largely due to successful mediation efforts of Assistant Agents. A total of 632 cases were filed during fiscal year 2002-2003, and 803 were closed during this period, reducing the backlog of pending cases. The Board also instituted a new policy that created improved scheduling of formal hearings and automated the Board’s calendar. A new tracking system for Board information and exhibits has been implemented and forms have been updated.

·      Meeting the needs of a diverse workforce: Labor law posters are now available in Spanish and provided free of charge. The agency also offers information on unemployment insurance and workforce services in Spanish and the agency has created a Limited English Proficiency (LEP) workgroup this year to continue its goal to improve the quality of its services to LEP customers.

·      New projections data: The agency’s Office of Research completed state-level, long-term industry and occupational employment projections for 2000 to 2010. The new data, geared to assist businesses, job seekers, educators and municipalities, is published in print format as well as accessible online on the agency’s website at www.ctdol.state.ct.us.

·      New Website for the State Board of Mediation and Arbitration. Individuals, employers and employee organizations can now access online information regarding the Board’s policies and procedures. The Board, through its mediation services offered in high impact areas, has greatly reduced the number of grievances waiting for arbitration hearings. The process has lessened the amount of time parties must wait to have a grievance heard, reduces the cost of arbitration fees, and promotes cooperation between labor and management.

·      Speaker’s bureau promotes outreach efforts. The agency speaker’s bureau received a significant number of requests this year for staff to speak at meetings, conferences and schools. Staff from the Office of Program Policy, for example, spoke before approximately 20 employee, employer, governmental and international groups regarding unemployment compensation issues and the Family and Medical Leave Act. The Office of Research provided Labor Market Information and economic forecast overviews to more than 30 schools, business associations and employees, while the Wage and Workplace Standards Division made a variety of presentations to companies and employees.

 

Workforce Initiatives

·      Employment services through the Jobs First Program. The agency entered its fifth year of responsibility for the employment services portion of the Jobs First program. Administered through a partnership of the departments of Labor and Social Services and the Workforce Investment Boards, the program serves recipients of Temporary Family Assistance. During the year, 16,997 participants received employment services, provided either directly by the DOL, One-Stop staff, or contracted service providers. The program combines work with further education or training when necessary. After additional funds were awarded for quality performance, DOL provided further support services to help families with significant barriers to participation in employment-related activities.

·      Job and Career Fairs.   Seven regional job and career fairs brought more than 350 companies and 14,000 job seekers together in fiscal year 2003. Through the success of these fairs, the DOL assists other state agencies and non-profit organizations in addressing the growing employment needs of specific industries. Two Health and Human Services Career Fairs brought more than 120 employers together with 3,500 qualified candidates. Working with the Department of Correction, two career days were also held at the Cheshire Correctional Facility for more than 300 pre-release offenders. The agency also assisted the Department of Social Services with its first job fair for senior citizens, bringing more than 30 companies and 100 Title 5 recipients together. Employers are able to sign-up for the job fairs online through DOL’s website located at www.ctjobfairs.com while job seekers can go to the website for a schedule of the fairs, directions, and a list of employers at each event.

·      Training through apprenticeship. Connecticut’s apprenticeship system registered 3,100 individuals, increasing the state’s number of registered apprentices currently in training to 16,931. A total of 528 apprentices completed training to achieve journeyperson status and 60 Connecticut companies took advantage of the corporate tax credit available for sponsoring a registered apprenticeship program.

·      Upgrading and enhancing workers’ skills.  The Customized Job Training unit provided training to 5,761 workers by collaborating with 437 companies in fiscal year 2003. By providing technical and financial assistance, the program successfully upgraded or enhanced the skills of these workers. The goal is to build a highly stable workforce by addressing the short-term training needs of companies.

·      LMI Workshops. Working with the Office for Workforce Competitiveness and the Department of Labor’s Training Institute, eight Labor Market Information workshops were held for more than 300 employees of the state’s One-Stop system serving both individual and employer customers. Participants learned about LMI concepts and terminology, available publications, and how to effectively use labor market information.

·      Individual Development Accounts.  The Connecticut Individual Development Account (IDA) Initiative’s mission is to strengthen families and communities by facilitating self-sufficiency and economic stability through financial education and asset development. IDAs are matched savings accounts in which low-income individuals and families accumulate funds that can be used for one of several allowable assets such as: education or job training; home ownership; small business capitalization; lease deposits on primary residences; and vehicle purchases for obtaining or maintaining employment. Currently, the DOL administers three Assets for Independence (AFI) contracts providing 288 IDAs. In June 2003, the agency awarded a grant in the amount of $300,000 to operate a Connecticut Individual Development Account Program. Funding for the grant comes from a $200,000 state appropriation and a $100,000 contribution from Fleet Bank. This contract will provide 85 additional IDAs.

·      A Connecticut IDA website, developed for customer convenience, can be accessed through the DOL website at www.ctdol.state.ct.us. The site contains useful, timely information on IDAs and IDA-related issues that is especially useful for IDA program operators, participants, financial institutions, policymakers, and community agencies.

·      Shared Work Program saves jobs. More than 140 companies took part in the DOL’s Shared Work Program, designed to save jobs in times of economic downturns. The program experienced a significant increase in participation from the year before when 43 companies signed up for the service. To avoid layoffs and retain skilled workers, the program allows companies to cut back 20 to 40 percent on the workweek and payroll without employee layoffs. DOL woks with the company to provide a pro-rated share of unemployment benefits to help make up for lost wages. The employee retains most of his or her salary and fringe benefits, and the company reverts back to a full-time schedule once business picks up again.

 

Other Improvements/Achievements

·         The One-Stop Centers provided workforce services to 41,947 individuals. Veterans’ employment representatives provided 6,438 veterans with employment services, and 15,381 individuals were referred to job openings.

·         Workforce Investment Act funding totaled approximately $21 million, and provided job training to more than 6,000 individuals.

·         Work Opportunity (WOTC) and Welfare to Work (WtW) tax credit certifications were issued to 257 companies. These companies hired 3,122 WOTC eligible individuals and 1,340 WtW eligible individuals.

·         Alien labor certifications for the first three-quarters for federal fiscal year 2002 totaled 1,725, compared to 1,458 in the previous year.

·         The Office of Affirmative Action Programs conducted diversity training for new employees, as well as sexual harassment prevention training for new supervisors. The agency’s Affirmative Action Plan was approved by the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities, reflecting a significant achievement of hiring and promotional goals. Efforts were extended to enhance community relations with the establishment of a number of new contacts throughout the state and Diversity Celebrations for employees promoted the exchange of information and education regarding various cultures and backgrounds.

 

Information Reported as Required by State Statute

Population and employment data:

     In fiscal year 2003, the Office of Research responded to requests for workforce information from the Department of Economic and Community Development, the Department of Labor’s Business Services Representatives, CTWorks partners, economic developers, realtors, and others for use in assisting companies considering expansion and out-of-state firms contemplating relocation.  This rapid response type effort expedites pertinent information that may impact important economic development projects or business issues. Workforce information may include, but is not limited to, labor force statistics, employment by occupation, wages, industry profiles, and business starts, expansions and closings.

 

Violations on employment of minors:

     The Wage and Workplace Standards Division issued 1,455 citations for child labor law violations and collected $610,686.42 in civil penalties for all violations. The division also recovered over $6,000,000 in legally due wages for employees. This amount included $3.1 million recovered by wage enforcement agents responding to 3,180 complaints; $2 million under Connecticut’s prevailing wage laws; and $1.29 million in minimum wage and overtime.

 

Unemployment Compensation:

     Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits paid for by Connecticut businesses and organizations totaled $965.4 million. Of that amount, $705.5 million was provided by employers paying quarterly UI taxes and $259.9 million was provided by non-taxable employers and other programs. Total taxes paid by more than 96,000 employers whose employees were covered by Unemployment Insurance totaled $556.9 million.

 

Report on inspections:

     Conn-OSHA monitored and performed safety and/or health compliance inspections at 141 public worksites, affecting workplace conditions of 4,543 state and municipal employees. Violations were documented in 98 inspections, with citations for 91 serious and 143 other-than-serious violations.

 

Administration and Enforcement of OSHA:

     The Occupational Safety and Health Division (CONN-OSHA) provided safety and health consultations to 453 private sector companies that collectively employ approximately 24,600 employees and to more than 22,900 employees at 150 public agencies. Additionally, 3,600 employees or employer representatives were provided with safety training and outreach programs. A total of $420,685.85 in state grants were administered to two occupational health clinics and nine auxiliary occupational health clinics through its Occupational Health Clinic Program.

 

Mediation and Arbitration:

     A total of 1,108 grievances were filed for arbitration with the Board of Mediation and Arbitration. The Board scheduled 1,774 grievance arbitration hearings and 1,249 cases were closed and 270 awards were issued. Expiration notices on 281 private sector contracts were received and the Board imposed/scheduled binding arbitration on 225 municipal contracts and two state contracts. The Board received a total of 200 requests for mediation on grievance arbitration, with 152 cases closed and settled.