House Education & Workforce Committee

Committee Leaders Issue Joint Statement in Response to PBGC Financial Report

Education & the Workforce Committee - Mon, 06/30/2014 - 4:00pm
House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN), Education and the Workforce Committee Senior Democrat George Miller (D-CA), Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee Chairman Phil Roe (R-TN) and Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee Senior Democrat John Tierney (D-MA) issued the following joint statement after the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) released its latest financial projections report:


The latest PBGC report confirms in stark detail the significant challenges confronting the multiemployer pension system. The systemic crisis we face threatens countless workers, employers, and retirees, and could ultimately harm American taxpayers, as well. We have an obligation to advance reforms that will modernize the system, encourage employer participation, protect taxpayers, and offer new tools to help rescue troubled plans. We continue to work together to find common ground and a responsible legislative solution. The American people deserve nothing less.

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Kline, Roe Applaud Supreme Court Hobby Lobby Decision

Education & the Workforce Committee - Mon, 06/30/2014 - 11:00am

House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee Chairman Phil Roe (R-TN) today issued the following joint statement after the Supreme Court issued its ruling in Burwell vs. Hobby Lobby Stores: 

Religious freedom is a fundamental right our nation has always protected. No American should be punished by the federal government for refusing to violate his or her moral beliefs, yet that is precisely what the Obama administration sought to do. The Supreme Court is to be commended for reversing the administration’s assault on religious liberty and for safeguarding the First Amendment protections we hold dear. 

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Left Turn: Supreme Court Rebukes President Obama

Education & the Workforce Committee - Fri, 06/27/2014 - 12:00am
In a resounding rebuke of President Obama, the Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision yesterday declaring the president’s 2012 non-recess recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board unconstitutional. In response to the high court’s ruling, Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee Chairman Phil Roe (R-TN) said:

The president’s unprecedented action was one of many intended to further his own partisan agenda by circumventing the Constitution and side-stepping Congress​. Thankfully the Supreme Court has helped rein in his abuse of power and restored some checks and balances to our system of government.

Unprecedented indeed. As the Wall Street Journal notes:

The Supreme Court handed President Obama his 13th unanimous loss in two years on Thursday, and this one may be the most consequential. All nine Justices voted to overturn Mr. Obama's non-recess recess appointments as an unconstitutional abuse of power.

Over nearly 238 years of American history, the Supreme Court has never had to review the President's authority to temporarily fill vacant executive offices when Congress is adjourned. Mr. Obama's 2012 maneuver to void the Senate's advice and consent role triggered a judicial intercession, and defeats at the High Court are seldom as total as this one…

But the true import of Noel Canning is that even liberal Justices are alarmed that Mr. Obama's executive law-making is visiting real damage on the Constitution. This will not be the last legal torpedo aimed at the hull of his increasingly willful Presidency.

The impact of this unconstitutional overreach extends beyond the Supreme Court’s hallowed chamber. Hundreds of decisions were issued by an unconstitutionally-appointed board and those decisions need to be reviewed. As Chairman Kline and Rep. Roe explained:

Now the board will have to begin the process of reconsidering hundreds of decisions issued by the unconstitutionally appointed members. These cases must be a top priority for the board, not the pursuit of controversial regulatory schemes that will simply wreak further havoc on our nation’s workplaces. The men and women who were thrown in limbo by the president’s unconstitutional overreach have waited long enough for the justice they deserve.

The committee intends to closely follow the NLRB’s response to the court’s decision to ensure the rights of those individuals harmed by the president’s unconstitutional action are protected.

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Committee Members Introduce Legislation to Strengthen America’s Higher Education System

Education & the Workforce Committee - Thu, 06/26/2014 - 4:30pm

House Education and the Workforce Committee members today introduced the first in a series of legislative proposals to reform the nation’s higher education system. The bills were introduced following the release earlier this week of a committee white paper outlining key principles for reauthorizing the Higher Education Act

“I want to thank all of my colleagues for their hard work crafting these commonsense proposals, and am pleased to see bipartisan consensus starting to emerge,” said Chairman John Kline (R-MN). “We are committed to strengthening America’s higher education for students, families, and taxpayers. The legislation introduced today will begin to help improve a system that is too bureaucratic, too costly, and outdated. I look forward to continuing to move this process forward in the coming weeks as we look to keep the dream of postsecondary education within reach for all Americans.” 

The committee outlined in its white paper a number of principles that will guide the HEA reauthorization process, including simplifying and improving student aid and empowering students and families to make informed decisions. The legislation introduced today reflects these important principles for reform: 

  • Simplifying the Application for Student Aid Act. Introduced by Reps. Larry Bucshon (R-IN), Mike Kelly (R-PA), John Tierney (D-MA), Tim Bishop (D-NY), Jared Polis (D-CO), and Ed Royce (R-CA), H.R. 4982 will reform the federal student aid process to help students make timely financial decisions about their education. To learn more about the legislation, click here

  • Strengthening Transparency in Higher Education Act. Introduced by Reps. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) and Luck Messer (R-IN), H.R. 4983 will help students gain access to the facts they need to make an informed decision about their education. To learn more about the legislation, click here

  • Empowering Students through Enhanced Financial Counseling Act. Introduced by Reps. Brett Guthrie (R-KY) and Richard Hudson (R-NC), H.R. 4984 will promote financial literacy through enhanced counseling for all recipients of federal financial aid. To learn more about the legislation, click here. 

To learn more about the committee’s effort to reform the Higher Education Act, visit edworkforce.house.gov/HigherEd.

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Empowering Students through Enhanced Financial Counseling Act

Education & the Workforce Committee - Thu, 06/26/2014 - 12:00am



THE PROBLEM:

Across the country, tuition costs continue to go up and the job prospects many graduates face remain bleak. It has never been more critical for individuals to make responsible choices regarding how to pay for their postsecondary education. Unfortunately, many students are simply not equipped to make sound financial choices about their college careers. It’s not surprising considering the confusing maze of loan and grant programs students must navigate at the state and federal levels, not to mention assistance available at each institution and within the private sector.

Additionally, many students never receive meaningful financial literacy assistance as they try to review their options to pay for college. A survey of current students and recent graduates with a high level of student loan debt found that more than 40 percent could not recall having received financial counseling, even though counseling is already required before students can receive their first federal loan. Current policies are failing to equip individuals to make wise financial decisions. As a result, many students graduate unable to manage the loans they used to finance their education, leading to significant hardship for borrowers and greater risk for taxpayers.

THE SOLUTION:

To help students make smart decisions about financing their higher education, Reps. Brett Guthrie (R-KY) and Richard Hudson (R-NC) introduced the Empowering Students through Enhanced Financial Counseling Act. As part of a broader effort to reauthorize the Higher Education Act, the legislation will promote financial literacy through enhanced counseling for all recipients of federal financial aid.

EMPOWERING STUDENTS THROUGH ENHANCED FINANCIAL COUNSELING ACT:

  • Ensures students who participate in the federal loan program receive interactive counseling each year and when they exit their education program. The counseling students receive must reflect their individual borrowing situation.
  • Provides awareness about the financial obligations students are accumulating by requiring borrowers to consent each year before receiving federal student loans.
  • Informs low-income students about the terms and conditions of the Pell Grant program through annual counseling that will be provided to all grant recipients.
  • Directs the Secretary of Education to maintain and disseminate a consumer-tested, online counseling tool institutions can use to provide annual loan counseling, exit counseling, and annual Pell Grant counseling to their students.

The Empowering Students through Enhanced Financial Counseling Act will deliver students the tools and information they need to borrow and repay their student loans in a responsible way.

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Strengthening Transparency in Higher Education Act

Education & the Workforce Committee - Thu, 06/26/2014 - 12:00am



THE PROBLEM:

Despite repeated attempts to enhance transparency in the higher education system, students and families still struggle to access important information that will assist in their search for the right college or university. The federal government provides financial assistance for millions of students to use at the institution of their choice. Yet students and families face a deluge of data that often provides little to no useful information as they try to make this important decision.

To make matters worse, data that is available often ignores a large portion of students enrolled in the postsecondary education system or fails to capture crucial information students and families need to view the entire landscape of higher education. Despite numerous initiatives underway at the federal level that are supposed to provide clarity to prospective students, these efforts often add more confusion and uncertainty by presenting conflicting information with limited opportunity to compare different education options.

THE SOLUTION:

To help provide students and families with the information they need to make smart decisions about higher education, Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) and Rep. Luke Messer (R-IN) introduced the Strengthening Transparency in Higher Education Act. As part of an effort to reauthorize the Higher Education Act, this proposal would improve consumer information to provide a more complete picture of all student populations, streamline existing transparency efforts at the federal level to reduce confusion for students, and require better coordination by federal agencies to avoid duplication and confusion.

STRENGTHENING TRANSPARENCY IN HIGHER EDUCATION ACT:

  • Requires the Secretary of Education to create a consumer-tested College Dashboard that would display only key information students need when deciding which school to attend.
  • Ensures the College Dashboard includes information on the completion rates of all students, including contemporary students and Pell Grant recipients.
  • Instructs the Secretary of Education to provide a link to the page of each institution listed on a student’s FAFSA to make sure students know this information is available.
  • Directs the Secretary of Education to coordinate with other federal agencies to ensure all published higher education data is consistent with the information available on the College Dashboard.
  • Streamlines and eliminates unnecessary information and federal transparency initiatives.

The Strengthening Transparency in Higher Education Act will take an important step toward strengthening the higher education system by improving transparency and ensuring all students have access to the information they need to make the best decision about their education.

To read the bill text, click here

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Simplifying the Application for Student Aid Act

Education & the Workforce Committee - Thu, 06/26/2014 - 12:00am



THE PROBLEM:

For many students and families, federal financial aid makes a postsecondary education possible. The time when a family begins the process of applying for financial aid is critical to ensuring students access the full range of assistance available to them. Unfortunately, the current process is not serving the best interests of students and families. A student’s application process starts when he or she submits the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Students who wish to enroll in fall classes are encouraged to begin applying for aid in January. However, the FAFSA relies on income tax data from the previous year that is not readily available at the time students should start filling out their applications.

This flawed process results in significant delays in the submission of FAFSA forms, which leaves financial aid administrators little time to put together aid packages for incoming students. More importantly, students do not learn in a timely manner what their financial aid packages will ultimately be, which makes it more difficult to plan for the cost of their education. Some students may even miss opportunities to receive state and institution-based aid as these limited resources are often awarded on a “first-come, first-served” basis. Further complicating matters is an overly complex FAFSA form. The current application runs 10 pages long and includes 108 questions on topics such as income, expenses, family size, and assets. Some families are so overwhelmed they fail to apply, which disqualifies students from aid they may otherwise be eligible to receive.

THE SOLUTION:

To streamline and improve the student aid application process, Reps. Larry Bucshon (R-IN), Mike Kelly (R-PA), John Tierney (D-MA), Tim Bishop (D-NY), Jared Polis (D-CO), and Ed Royce (R-CA) introduced the Simplifying the Application for Student Aid Act. As part of an effort to reauthorize the Higher Education Act, the bipartisan legislation will help students make timely financial decisions about their education.

SIMPLIFYING THE APPLICATION FOR STUDENT AID ACT:

  • Allows students to use family income data from two years prior to the date of the FAFSA application. This process will help students apply for financial aid earlier so they can better prepare for their college costs.
  • Establishes a link between the online FAFSA form and income tax data stored by the Internal Revenue Service to automatically input income data into the FAFSA form, reducing the need to manually input information that often prevents low-income students from applying for aid.
  • Strengthens the integrity of federal financial aid by providing institutions more time to verify the income of their students.

The Simplifying the Application for Student Aid Act will help students access the full range of federal financial aid to turn their dreams of a postsecondary education into reality.

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Kline, Roe Respond to Supreme Court’s Noel Canning Decision

Education & the Workforce Committee - Thu, 06/26/2014 - 12:00am

House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee Chairman Phil Roe (R-TN) today issued the following joint statement after the Supreme Court struck down President Obama’s unconstitutional appointments to the National Labor Relations Board:

For more than two years, workers, employers, and unions have lived under a cloud of uncertainty because of the president’s unconstitutional appointments to the board. The president’s unprecedented action was one of many intended to further his own partisan agenda by circumventing the Constitution and side-stepping Congress. Thankfully the Supreme Court has helped rein in his abuse of power and restored some checks and balances to our system of government.

Now the board will have to begin the process of reconsidering hundreds of decisions issued by the unconstitutionally appointed members. These cases must be a top priority for the board, not the pursuit of controversial regulatory schemes that will simply wreak further havoc on our nation’s workplaces. The men and woman who were thrown in limbo by the president’s unconstitutional overreach have waited long enough for the justice they deserve.

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Kline, Foxx Applaud Senate Passage of Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act

Education & the Workforce Committee - Wed, 06/25/2014 - 12:00am

House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Higher Education and Workforce Training Subcommittee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) issued the following statements after the Senate passed the bipartisan, bicameral Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (H.R. 803):

"Today we moved one step closer to enacting comprehensive job training reform that will help put Americans back to work,” said Chairman Kline. “I commend our colleagues in the Senate for passing our bipartisan, bicameral agreement. This compromise is the result of a long negotiation process, and I am delighted it’s passed the Senate with strong bipartisan support. America's workers, employers, and taxpayers have waited long enough for Congress to deliver a more efficient, effective, and accountable workforce development system. I am confident the House will send this bill to the president's desk without delay. It's time to get the job done."

“I am very pleased that the Senate has considered the SKILLS Act and used it as the basis for a bipartisan plan to reform the Workforce Investment Act,” said Rep. Foxx. “America’s job seekers need a workforce development system that is focused on their needs and helps them get the skills necessary for jobs that are available now. This legislation will make the system more responsive and accountable, and I look forward to prompt passage of these needed reforms into law.”

To learn more about the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, click here.

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Rokita Statement: Hearing on “How Data Mining Threatens Students' Privacy”

Education & the Workforce Committee - Wed, 06/25/2014 - 12:00am

We are dealing with an issue today that is both critically important and exceptionally complex. 

Why is it so important? As we fight for all Americans looking to build better lives for themselves and their families, we know that a quality education is at the root of that better life. With very few exceptions, a worker will not succeed in the workforce if they failed as a student in the classroom. A strong education system is essential to a strong America. That is why we should encourage innovative solutions to raise achievement and embrace new technologies that allow us to teach children in more effective ways.

We all can see how acquiring data on student performance can revolutionize student learning. For starters, data can provide an early warning to teachers, alerting them to students who are falling behind and need extra help. It can also awaken parents to the challenges their child is facing so they can step in with additional support at home. Additionally, data on student achievement can equip local communities with the information needed to hold their schools accountable, as well as enable schools to share information on what’s working in their classrooms and what’s not.

Why is it so complex? Well, I think we’ve learned by now that modern technology is anything but a simple concept. The science and ingenuity behind each new smart phone, app, computer, or piece of software is tough to comprehend, yet these products have become an integral part of our everyday lives. It’s hard to imagine what life would be like if we never heard of names such as Apple, Microsoft, Google, and Amazon.

With each new technology comes risk and responsibility. That is certainly the case when it comes to the technology we bring into our schools and the data we collect on our students. Protecting student privacy is a shared responsibility. Parents have to be informed and engaged about what technologies and practices are used in their schools, what data is actually collected on their children, who has access to that data, and the safeguards in place to protect their child’s privacy. State and local education leaders have to ensure they are limiting the data collected to only information truly needed to improve classroom instruction. That means they must limit access to student data to only individuals who are working with the schools to improve classroom instruction. They must also ensure there are strict security protocols in place while ensuring parents are fully informed about the data use policies of the school and district.

And then there are the technology providers, who have an equally important role in protecting student privacy and securing student data to which they have access. These companies must remain vigilant and remember that students are in the classroom first and foremost to learn. Data and student information should be placed in the hands of educators so they can leverage those resources to further student achievement.

Finally, there is also a role for federal policymakers as well. We should oppose any information sharing or data mining on students intended to serve interests outside of the classroom. For forty years the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act has been in place to protect the privacy of student education records. I look forward to discussing with our witnesses today whether that law is up to the challenges we face today, or whether changes need to be made so that the law reflects the realities of modern technology.

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Committee Leaders Unveil Principles for Strengthening America’s Higher Education System

Education & the Workforce Committee - Tue, 06/24/2014 - 6:00pm

House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Higher Education and Workforce Training Subcommittee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) today released a white paper outlining key principles that will guide the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. As part of the committee’s continued effort to strengthen America’s higher education system, the white paper includes a number of policy proposals to reform federal postsecondary education law.

“Too many Americans are struggling to turn the dream of a postsecondary education into reality,” said Chairman Kline. “Our current higher education system is too costly, too bureaucratic, and outdated. Families and students deserve better. Today we are moving forward with our effort to strengthen the nation’s higher education system. These principles will help keep college in reach for every American looking to higher education as a pathway to a successful career.”

“Higher education can be a great option for those who are looking to take the next step in their career or are simply seeking to improve their life,” said Rep. Foxx. “Unfortunately, the current system has not kept pace with the changing needs of students and the demands of the workforce, and costs are simply out of control. After hearing from students, innovators, institutions, researchers and countless others, I am pleased to put forth some ideas that will address shortfalls in our current system of higher education. I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues to ensure the federal government supports educational opportunity in the most effective and efficient way possible.”

“Later this week, we will begin introducing a series of bills that will turn these principles into concrete legislative solutions,” continued Chairman Kline. “A step-by-step approach will help us keep the public informed of the policies we’re developing and allow us to begin strengthening higher education today. Let's make progress in areas where there is the potential for bipartisan consensus and continue working together on the areas that remain. It’s time to move forward.”

The four principles outlined in the white paper are:

  • Empowering students and families to make informed decisions;    
  • Simplifying and improving student aid;  
  • Promoting innovation, access, and completion; and   
  • Ensuring strong accountability and a limited federal role.
To read the white paper, click here.

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“How Data Mining Threatens Student Privacy”

Education & the Workforce Committee - Tue, 06/24/2014 - 4:00pm
Joint Hearing: Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education and the Homeland Security’s Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, and Security Technologies.

***MEDIA ADVISORY*** TOMORROW: Meehan and Rokita to Hold Joint Subcommittee Hearing on Privacy, Security Risks of Data Mining Student Information

Education & the Workforce Committee - Tue, 06/24/2014 - 12:00am

Tomorrow, the Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education will hold a joint hearing with the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, and Security Technologies to examine the mining and retention of student data and the potential privacy and security risks this poses to students’ personally identifiable information. The hearing, entitled “How Data Mining Threatens Student Privacy” will take place at 11:00 a.m.in room 311 of the Cannon House Office Building.

Subcommittee Chairman Patrick Meehan (R-PA) on the hearing: “Educational software and cloud systems are important tools for our teachers and students today. But parents have real concerns over how information these tools gather may be used, and that attendance records, learning abilities, locations, web histories and other personally identifiable information may be mined, shared and sold for profit.  I look forward to working with Chairman Rokita to examine the threat to student privacy and security posed by the mining and retention of student data.”

Subcommittee Chairman Todd Rokita (R-IN) on the hearing: “Student data is a key element in improving schools and assisting teachers as they design curriculum.  However, we must make certain there is not a threat to student privacy as this data is collected, shared, and analyzed.  Protecting student privacy in the digital age is a top priority for me and my subcommittee.  I look forward to working with Chairman Meehan in our joint hearing.”

To learn more about the hearing, visit http://edworkforce.house.gov/hearings.  

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WITNESS LIST

Mr. Joel R. Reidenberg
Stanley D. and Nikki Waxberg, Chair and Professor of Law
Founding Academic Director, Center on Law and Information Policy
Fordham University School of Law

Mr. Mark MacCarthy
Vice President, Public Policy
Software and Information Industry Association

Ms. Joyce Popp
Chief Information Officer
Idaho State Department of Education

Mr. Thomas Murray
State and District Digital Learning Policy and Advocacy Director
Alliance for Excellent Education

Roe Statement: Hearing on "What Should Workers and Employers Expect Next From the National Labor Relations Board?”

Education & the Workforce Committee - Tue, 06/24/2014 - 12:00am

Four years ago, the Obama administration promised the start of “recovery summer.” The American people were told at the time the nation was about to enter a period of strong growth and job creation. We know four years later that simply wasn’t the case. Instead of a robust recovery, the nation continued to struggle with a jobs crisis that is hurting working families to this day.

It has taken five years to simply regain the jobs lost as a result of the recent recession – making this the slowest recovery in our nation’s history. On the current path, it will take four more years before we close what’s known as the jobs gap, the number of jobs destroyed by the recession plus the number of jobs we need to simply keep pace with population growth. Four years after the so-called “recovery summer” and roughly 10 million Americans are still searching for work, including more than 3 million Americans who have been out of a job for six months or longer. 

When the focus should be on developing bipartisan solutions that will help put people back to work, the Obama administration has spent most of its time promoting a partisan agenda at the behest of powerful special interests. That has certainly been the case with the National Labor Relations Board.

In response to a steady decline in its membership, union bosses have increasingly relied on federal agencies to tilt the balance of power in their favor. The NLRB is at the center of this effort, promoting a culture of union favoritism that makes it virtually impossible for employers and workers to resist union pressure.

Under President Obama’s watch, the board has restricted access to the secret ballot, advanced an ambush election rule that will stifle employer free speech and cripple worker free choice, and begun to bless micro unions that will tie employers up in union red tape while undermining employee freedom in the workplace. The NLRB even went so far as to try and dictate where a private employer could and could not create jobs. I could go on and on.

Additionally, there are cases before the board right now that threaten to further stack the deck in favor of the administration’s union allies. For example, the board has requested feedback on how to determine joint-employer status under the National Labor Relations Act. A standard has been in place for 30 years to determine when two employers share immediate and direct control over essential terms and conditions of employment, such as hiring, firing, discipline, and supervision. This isn’t a new concept, so the board’s recent solicitation is highly suspect and strongly suggests it’s eager to abandon existing policies in favor of a new standard more favorable to union interests.

The board may also be looking for ways to give union organizers greater access to employer property, most notably employers’ email systems. The board has always instructed employers that any policy limiting the use of work email must be enforced in a non-discriminatory way, which means employers cannot treat unions any differently than other non-charitable organizations. This provides employers a clear standard to follow and union organizers a level playing field to work on. It’s likely the current board majority will seek to impose a fundamentally different approach, one that would give union organizers practically unfettered access to employers’ email systems. 

On their own these may seem like relatively minor issues. However, they are part of a larger pattern that is generating a lot of uncertainty, confusion, and anxiety in workplaces across the country. Every member of this committee supports the right of workers to freely choose whether or not to join a union. It is ultimately a decision that rests with each and every individual worker; federal policymakers don’t have the authority to make that choice for them. Today’s hearing is part of the committee’s continued oversight of the NLRB, but more importantly, part of our commitment to defending the rights of workers and employers.

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Kline, Alexander Issue Joint Statement on Corinthian Colleges

Education & the Workforce Committee - Mon, 06/23/2014 - 12:00am

House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Ranking Member Lamar Alexander (R-TN) issued the following joint statement in response to the agreement reached between the Department of Education and Corinthian Colleges Inc.:

We are glad to see that the agreement reached between Corinthian and the Department of Education will keep the doors from being shut on 72,000 students who are in the midst of earning their degrees and certificates. As the two parties work out the next steps, we hope they keep in the mind the best interests of the students, who have already invested time and resources in their education, and make every effort to ensure they are able to complete their programs.

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***MEDIA ADVISORY*** TOMORROW: Subcommittee to Examine Key Issues Before the NLRB

Education & the Workforce Committee - Mon, 06/23/2014 - 12:00am

On Tuesday, June 24 at 10:00 a.m., the Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions, chaired by Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN), will hold a hearing entitled, “What Should Workers and Employers Expect Next From the National Labor Relations Board?” The hearing will take place in room 2175 of the Rayburn House Office Building.

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has taken a number of pro-union actions in recent years, including advancing an ambush election rule and restricting worker access to secret ballot elections. The NLRB is currently considering a number of issues that could significantly affect the future of labor-management relations. These include whether employees have a right to use work email accounts for union organizing and the proper standard for determining joint employer status. Also looming over the board is the pending Supreme Court decision in Noel Canning, which will determine the constitutionality of the January 2012 non-recess recess appointments to the NLRB.

As part of the committee’s continued oversight, Tuesday’s hearing will provide members an opportunity to discuss these and other issues pending before the NLRB. To learn more about the hearing, visit http://edworkforce.house.gov/hearings.

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“How Data Mining Threatens Student Privacy”

Education & the Workforce Committee - Tue, 06/17/2014 - 11:00am
Joint Hearing: Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education and the Homeland Security’s Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection and Security Technologies and Education

Walberg Statement: Hearing on "The Regulatory and Enforcement Actions of EEOC: Examining the Concerns of Stakeholders”

Education & the Workforce Committee - Tue, 06/10/2014 - 12:00am

Today’s hearing is part of our continued oversight of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Last year we convened a hearing to broadly examine the commission’s regulatory and enforcement agenda. Members raised concerns with a number of EEOC policies that many believe are not in the best interest of workers and employers.

For example, under President Obama’s watch, EEOC has made it more difficult for employers to ensure the safety of their customers and clients. So-called guidance issued in 2012 severely restricts employer use of criminal background checks during the hiring process. All Americans expect employers to hire a safe and responsible workforce, especially when workers are employed in areas that require the public’s trust, such as when they enter private homes, transport children to school, or care for aging relatives.

Later we will learn in disturbing detail why in certain occupations a background check of prospective employees is critical to public safety. Mrs. Bone, we are grateful you’ve joined us this morning to share your family’s personal story. The death of your sister Sue could have been prevented. We cannot fathom the pain you and your family are forced to bear.

There isn’t a member in Congress who wouldn’t be outraged if his or her loved one suffered the same fate as your sister. But because of EEOC overreach, there are now policies in place making it harder for employers to do what is right. Some employers will simply avoid the bureaucratic hassle of conducting background checks or the risk of being second-guessed by the federal government, which means more Americans might be put in harm’s way.

Adding insult to injury, EEOC denied the public an opportunity to comment on its radical change in policy. And we understand the commission is considering further guidance that would hinder employers’ ability to look at the credit histories of prospective employees. It is time for EEOC to stop this nonsense, withdraw its flawed guidance, and ensure employers use the tools available to protect the men and women they serve.

Unfortunately, misguided regulatory schemes weren’t the only concerns raised at our last EEOC hearing. We also discussed the commission’s failed approach to enforcement. Instead of commission members working together to resolve claims of discrimination raised by American workers, we have an unaccountable general counsel pursuing cases of systemic discrimination without any allegation of wrongdoing. The results have been disappointing to say the least.

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals recently wrote, “EEOC brought this case on the basis of a homemade methodology, crafted by a witness with no particular expertise to craft it, administered by persons with no particular expertise to administer it, tested by no one, and accepted only by the witness himself.” Another federal court described an EEOC case as a “theory in search of facts to support it.” Other courts have found EEOC legal complaints as frivolous, unreasonable, and untenable.

Last year, we raised these and other concerns to Commission Chair Berrien and urged her to change course. Unfortunately, our concerns continue to be ignored. I am hopeful that through today’s hearing and our oversight of EEOC, the commission will adopt a more responsible approach that better serves the needs of workers and employers.

We are here today because we want to ensure these vital laws – and the protections they provide American workers – are properly enforced. Every American deserves a fair shot at finding a job – regardless of age, disability, sex, religion, or race. When they are denied that fair shot, workers rely upon EEOC to make it right and hold bad actors accountable. That is the mission of this important agency, and it’s our responsibility to make sure EEOC is getting the job done.

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