OLA and US Labor Dept. offer Help with Employment Issues

The following press release was issued by the US Department of Labor's Boston Office:

U.S. Labor Department Partners with Hispanic Organization to Offer Ongoing Compliance Assistance to Hispanic Employers and Workers

NEW YORK – The U.S. Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division is partnering with Organizacion Latino Americana (OLA), an Hispanic community group, to offer ongoing compliance assistance to Hispanic employers and workers on the east end of Long Island.

According to Irv Miljoner, Long Island district director of the Wage and Hour Division, Spanish-speaking staff will be available at the Water Mill, N.Y., offices of OLA on the first Friday of each month to provide assistance to Hispanic workers and employers regarding federal wage and hour laws. This outreach is part of a local Wage and Hour Division special initiative -- Hispanic Employment Low-Wage Program (H.E.L.P.).

The primary law enforced by the Wage and Hour Division is the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which requires that employees be paid at least the applicable minimum wage for all hours worked and time and one-half their regular rate of pay for hours worked over 40 per week. In addition, the law sets standards for the employment of workers under age 18.

Employers must also maintain accurate records of employees’ wages, hours and other conditions of employment. The purpose of H.E.L.P. is to increase compliance with the FLSA by providing information to the rapidly growing Hispanic employment community on Long Island, including both employers and workers.

The OLA is located at 1152 Montauk Highway, Water Mill, NY. Spanish-speaking Wage and Hour Division staff will be available on the first Friday of every month to provide assistance.

The phone number for OLA is 631-726-OLA6 (631-726-6526).

The Long Island District Office of the Wage and Hour Division is located at 1400 Old Country Road, Suite 410, Westbury, NY, and the telephone number is 516-338-1890.

Additional information on the requirements of the FLSA may be obtained by calling the Labor Department’s toll-free help line at 1-866-4USWAGE (1-866-487-9243). Information is also available on the Internet at www.wagehour.dol.gov.

Congressman Bishop Nixes Federal Recognition Law

Federal recognition for Indian tribes is a lengthy process, one that has taken as long as 17 years or more after submission of detailed application documents according to Indian Country who report:

"Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Calif., chairman of the Resources Committee in the
House of Representatives, introduced a bill [HR 512] that would require the Secretary of Interior to finally determine the status of tribes with longstanding petitions within a year of
the act's passage."

The Southampton Press reported that this bill was the subject of testimony by Shinnecock Nation Tribal leader Lance Gumbs on February 10. Mr. Gumbs testified before a congressional committee in support of HR 512.

Gumbs said “If my frustration over the current federal recognition process is evident in my testimony, it is because it was forged by the blood, sweat and tears of too many members of our tribe,” Mr. Gumbs told the committee “The status of our petition sits in what I call the ‘black hole’—the Ready for Active Consideration list.”

The Press also reported that U.S. Representative Tim Bishop said he would not support the Shinnecocks receiving federal recognition status, expedited or otherwise, because the designation would make it nearly impossible to stop the tribe from securing permission to develop a casino. Bishop said “But I don’t think that gaming, in any way, serves the interest of the people of eastern Long Island. So long as recognition is linked to gaming, I have to be opposed to recognition.”

Our comment: The interest of "the people" would not be served unless the people are poor Native Americans who want to prosper and remain on their land.