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  Hilda Solis – former Democratic member of Congress and the new Secretary of Labor – told the AFL-CIO, “You can rest assured that there is a new sheriff in town.”  The Administration and Congress have now given the sheriff a larger posse and a potful of money.  Solis plans to add at least another 150 wage and hour field investigators, plus 100 more to focus on employers who have received stimulus payments.

The 2008 budget gave DOL $175.7 million for wage-hour enforcement; that rose to $193.1 for 2009, and the stimulus package in ARRA added another nearly $5 million.  The 2010 tally is a whopping $227.7 million for this function alone; the total DOL budget request is $104.5 billion for discretionary and mandatory programs.  If you want to see the details, look at the 81-page “budget in brief” at http://www.dol.gov/dol/budget/2010/PDF/bib.pdf; the wage-hour discussion is on page 36.  Additionally, you may have noted that the Administration has determined enforcement of laws and regulations targeting union corruption as “not a priority”; in fact, the overall DOL budget is less than 2009’s, reflecting a reordering of what the agency deems important.

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