President Obama Sept. 28 signed into law a continuing appropriation resolution (H.J. Res. 117) that will fund the Department of Labor (DOL), National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and the Equal Opportunity Commission for the first six months of fiscal year 2013, but that also includes restrictions on actions by DOL. 

In the budget, each agency will get a 0.612 percent increase in funding compared to 2012 levels. In 2012, DOL received $14.5 billion, NLRB received $278 million and EEOC received $360 million. The resolution is considered a stop-gap measure and there is a possibility funding could be approved for all of fiscal year 2013.

Like the last round of funding, the Sept. 28 resolution also restricts the DOL from implementing rules on H-2B wages and musculoskeletal disorder (MSD) reporting requirements. 

Under the resolution, DOL is prohibited from using any of the approved funds to implement a final rule issued in January 2011 that would have replaced the current methodology for establishing wage rates for H-2B temporary workers with a system emphasizing Davis-Bacon Act wage determinations. In response, DOL Oct. 2 announced it is postponing the effective date of the rule to March 27, 2013. The original effective date was Jan. 1, 2012. ABC continues to oppose the rule’s implementation due to its substantial cost, as well as the unscientific methodology used by DOL’s Wage and Hour division to establish Davis-Bacon Act rates that often inflate local wages.

In addition, the resolution prohibits DOL from pursuing its proposal on MSDs during the first six months of fiscal year 2013. Under the proposed rule, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Form 300 would have been revised to include an additional reporting column for MSDs. ABC opposed the change due to the vague and subjective definition of what would constitute an MSD, in addition to the hardships it would impose on businesses. OSHA temporarily withdrew the proposal in January 2011 to gather more feedback from small businesses.