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Thomas Perez delivers remarks after President Barack Obama announced Perez as his nominee for Labor Secretary, in the East Room of the White House, March 18, 2013.
Labor Secretary Thomas Perez's hands are tied, thanks to the Republican shutdown.
Here's something Republicans are likely celebrating about the government shutdown they caused: It's going to seriously slow or even halt all manner of ways the government protects workers on the job.

Shutting down the National Labor Relations Board has been a Republican goal for much of Barack Obama's presidency, and now Just 11 people will be left working at the agency, at a time when there's already a backlog of unsettled cases on unfair labor practices, with many workers having waited years for justice as Republicans found other ways to hold up the NLRB's work or throw it into question.

At the Labor Department and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, just 18 percent and five percent of workers, respectively, will be on the job during the shutdown. As a result:

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Labor Department office that performs the crucial function of monitoring workplaces, would have to stop inspections that don't involve immediate dangers or deaths, the department wrote in the plan. That means the agency's routine inspections -- an already woefully underfunded responsibility -- would generally grind to a halt during the shutdown. [...]

The payment of unemployment insurance and workers compensation claims would keep moving during the shutdown, but the Labor Department's investigations into wage theft allegations would cease, according to the shutdown plan.

In 2012, the Labor Department collected a record $280 million in back wages for 300,000 workers, and new Labor Secretary Thomas Perez had vowed to continue that work. But thanks to the shutdown, the investigations into employers who don't pay workers the wages they've earned, often misclassifying employees as independent contractors to avoid wage and hour laws and payroll taxes, aren't happening, and those particularly vulnerable workers will be kept waiting still longer. The EEOC, meanwhile, will still be taking discrimination complaints—but it won't be able to do anything about them until the shutdown ends.

Little enforcement of workplace safety, no enforcement of wage and hour or employment discrimination laws ... this is like a Republican paradise.

Join Daily Kos and the DCCC to tell John Boehner: End this shutdown now.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Wed Oct 02, 2013 at 06:57 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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