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  4. Fact Sheet: DHS is empowering workers and protecting rights at the workplace

Fact Sheet: DHS is empowering workers and protecting rights at the workplace

Release Date: September 2, 2022

Under President Biden's leadership, this Administration has made historic investments in America's workers, recognizing that the federal government plays a vital role in improving the condition and the standing of the men and women who power the American economy. As a result of the diligence and determination of the American people, and the President's leadership, our nation's economic recovery continues to be the strongest in the world. As one of the largest federal agencies, DHS believes that empowering workers and protecting their rights are critical for strengthening our democracy and bolstering our economic security.  As Secretary Mayorkas said last year, “Our Department has a critical role in ensuring that our Nation’s workplaces comply with our laws.”  Through efforts internal and external, and initiatives that span a broad mission set, DHS has spared no effort in upholding our commitment to working people.

Empower and Better Compensate TSA Screening Workforce: Last year, Secretary Mayorkas announced several critical workforce-enhancement initiatives for TSA focused on expanding collective bargaining, improving grievance appeal rights, and increasing pay for Transportation Security Officers — and TSA is working to implement these important changes.

TSA’s highly trained and dedicated workforce is prepared and ready to screen millions of passengers at airport checkpoints this weekend. The Labor Day weekend represents the end of a busy summer travel season. When passing through security this weekend, please thank the Transportation Security Officers for the job they do each day keeping travel secure.

Re-establish Labor-Management Forums: DHS and its component agencies re-established Labor-Management Forums to promote increased discussion, transparency, and resolution of labor issues across the enterprise.  Component-level forums and the Department-level forum have been meeting periodically this year.

Provide Job Aid and Training for the DHS Contracting and Acquisition Workforces: DHS created a Job Aid and Training aimed at the DHS contracting workforce to ensure that contracting officers know: (1) the procedures to correctly apply Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBAs) to Service Contract Labor Standards-covered contracts; and (2) how to obtain and apply appropriate Department of Labor (DOL) Wage Determinations.

Support Labor Enforcement Agency Investigations: DHS has been supporting labor enforcement agency investigations by considering, on a case by case basis, victims and witnesses of labor exploitation for prosecutorial discretion.  DHS is streamlining, and will soon announce updates to its processes for strengthening its partnership with labor enforcement agencies to ensure that workers are protected and unscrupulous employers are held accountable. 

Combat Forced Labor in U.S. Supply Chains: Fighting forced labor in U.S. supply chains is essential to ensuring a level playing field for domestic workers and U.S. employers that respect the law and treat their employees with dignity.  DHS, through CBP, leads the U.S. Government USG in combating forced labor in U.S. supply chains and, in turn, unfair labor competition.  In FY21, CBP detained 1,469 shipments and seized 57 shipments containing nearly $500 million in merchandise linked to forced labor abroad, a nearly 900 percent increase from FY20. 

End Mass Worksite Enforcement Operations: In 2021, ICE ended deployment of mass worksite enforcement operations, which sometimes led to the simultaneous arrest of hundreds of workers, as they misallocated resources while chilling worker participation in labor enforcement investigations.

Audits and Labor Exploitation Investigations: Together with the DHS Center for Countering Human Trafficking (CCHT), the Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Labor Exploitation team has also developed a counter-trafficking strategy involving new trainings and greater resources focused on labor exploitation cases.  USCIS conducts audits of employers to ensure they are complying with wage commitments to workers, and other requirements of the H-2B visa program.

Ensuring that Farmworkers are Aware of their Rights: To ensure that farmworkers and other guestworkers are aware of their rights, CBP is providing pamphlets directly to H-2A and H-2B non-immigrant workers at ports of entry that advise them on how to report labor violations and seek protections. 

Providing Resources to Law Enforcement Agencies on Trafficking: USCIS published comprehensive guidance on adjudicating applications for trafficking victims seeking T nonimmigrant status.  USCIS also published the first-ever standalone T Visa Law Enforcement Agencies Resource Guide, which emphasizes the importance of a victim-centered approach when working with noncitizen trafficking victims. 

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Last Updated: 09/02/2022
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