On December 23rd, President Obama signed the $1 trillion omnibus spending act, which set the Labor Department budget at $14.5 billion for fiscal year 2012. This constitutes a $145.4M increase (approximately 1%) from 2011. The bill, which prevented any government shutdown from occurring, places five restrictions on U.S. Department of Labor activities during the funded period. These are:
1) A prohibition on DOL implementation of the H-2B wage rule for temporary nonagricultural workers;
2) A prohibition on implementation or enforcement of DOL’s proposed “coal dust” rule — a proposed rule to lower miners’ exposure to respirable coal dust in all underground and surface coal mines –until an independent assessment of DOL’s process giving rise to the rule is conducted;
3) Continued exempt classification of service technicians at auto dealerships from overtime requirements under the FLSA pursuant to 29 U.S.C. § 213(b)(10) for DOL enforcement purposes;
4) A freeze on the Department’s proposed development of a musculoskeletal disorders reporting requirement (aka the “ergonomics regulation”); and
5) A prohibition on the implementation of electronic voting procedures in representation elections before the National Labor Relations Board.
This funding, and these fairly narrow concessions limiting USDOL activity, ensures the continuation of active Department enforcement heading into the election year.