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Welcome to the Kentucky Labor Cabinet’s Online Newsletter

October 2015

What’s the Latest?




KAConferenceCenterKentucky Apprenticeship Conference Returns to General Butler

Building a skilled workforce is crucial for Kentucky’s future economic success. Leaders from business, education, government and labor backgrounds return to the Kentucky Apprenticeship conference. See how they hope to help improve lives and the economy.

DSC_0281Marissa Dove: Finding the Greater Meaning

The Labor Cabinet’s Marissa Dove found out that great things happen to those who are willing to travel long distances, stare down stern judges, and even face wild lions. See how true love found a fresh start in a new place, thousands of miles away.  


GovSpeaksCroppedLabor-Management Conference enjoys 38th year

Governor Beshear and Lt. Gov Luallen highlight a distinguished list of speakers and participants. One seat was empty, however, and represents a treasure to the conference who will be missed forever.


EmployeeMisclassPICKentucky Labor Cabinet Partners with U.S. Department of Labor to Protect Misclassified Workers

Misclassification: It’s a crime that doesn’t just rob workers, it hurts taxpayers and Kentucky’s economy. See how the Labor Cabinet hopes some teamwork will help combat this growing problem.



Bardstown Bourbon handshake closeupKentucky Labor Cabinet Teams with Buzick Construction on Distillery Project in Bardstown

The Labor Cabinet’s experts are working to improve safety on the construction of the next great addition to one of Kentucky’s signature industries. Read why this is such a high profile project.


ElectroCycleElectro Cycle Earns Governor’s Safety and Health Award

Four years without a lost-time incident is quite a streak – but it’s all part of one company’s dedication to safety. See what one Madisonville employer credits as the secret to its success.


TransfreightBakerComitoLewisPorterTransfreight Celebrates Governor’s Safety and Health Award

Shipping freight can be hard work, but there’s no reason it can’t be safe work, too. Read how one Georgetown company is steadfast in its commitment to safety on the job every single day.

MeadeRECCawardMeade County RECC Earns First Governor’s Safety and Health Award

People in six counties in Kentucky depend on these workers every day – and these employees do their best to stay safe in everything they do. Read why keeping the lights on doesn’t mean staying in the dark for safety.


mps-300x119Multi Packaging Solutions Earns Governor’s Safety and Health Award at Second Louisville Facility

Eight years and 2.5 million work hours without a lost-time incident really shows a tremendous dedication to safety. Take a look at how Multi-Packaging Solutions is setting the bar high for itself and its workers in Louisville.

kyhealthnow LOGOGet ready for the Great American Smokeout!

One of the goals of kyhealthnow is to reduce Kentucky’s smoking rate. The American Cancer Society is glad to share plenty of good tips to help you quit smoking. See how you can quit like a champion… and read why quitting can make such a difference in your life.



Kentucky Labor-Management Conference enjoys 38th year

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LakeBeautyShotGILBERTSVILLE, Ky. — On a lovely, sun-drenched week in September, more than 500 participants from labor and management,  numerous government officials and local leaders gathered at Kentucky Dam Village State Resort Park for the 38th annual Labor-Management Conference.

The beauty of the park served as a perfect backdrop for another successful conference, which each year provides an opportunity for labor and management leaders to meet and discuss important issues that impact the workforce and Kentucky’s economy. Session speakers included Lou Manchise, a former federal mediator and current lecturer of Management from Northern Kentucky University, Cindy Wise from Humana, and Dave Suetholz from Kircher, Suetholz and Associates, PSC. GovSpeaksCropped

Kentucky Secretary of Labor Larry L. Roberts welcomed everyone, and Governor Steve Beshear, Marshall County Judge-Executive Chyrill Miller, and Larry Sanderson from Local 184 of the Plumbers and Steamfitters made opening remarks. Education and Workforce Development Secretary Tom Zawacki and Workforce Development Director Josh Benton also spoke, and the local television station, WPSD out of Paducah, sent a camera crew to cover the conference.

The Interim Joint Committee on Labor and Industry held its regular meeting and heard testimony from Secretary Roberts and Workers’ Claims Commissioner Dwight Lovan as well as Beth Brinly, Deputy Secretary of Education and Workforce Development Cabinet.

LtGovSpeaksatLMconfThe final banquet featured Lt. Gov. Crit Luallen as the keynote speaker. She talked about how important it was to have a prepared and healthy workforce. She also pointed out how she had dealt with health problems (cancer) and had lost so many loved ones to cancer. She said better health should not be a partisan issue, and Kentuckians deserve good, affordable health care.

There were heavy hearts at this year’s Labor-Management Conference. For the first time in the history of the conference, Judge Mike Miller was not in attendance. The lovable and affable Miller was a larger-than-life character, with an engaging personality and an extremely sharp mind. He passed away in December of 2014 at the age of 70. He was the longest serving judge-executive in the Commonwealth, with 41 years of continuous service.

He will be remembered as the life of the party at the conference. He was an ambassador, an emcee, black-jack dealer, and stand-up comedian. Most of all, he was a friend. He never seemed to meet a stranger. The conference has lost a true treasure, and anyone who came in contact with Judge Miller will agree that he was someone who loved and cared about Kentucky, Marshall County, and all the people he touched in his life.

Judge Miller at his final Labor-Management Conference, 2014

His advice will bring a smile to your face and warmth to your heart. “Every day,” he would say, “do these four things: drink, steal, swear and lie.” He would then qualify those statements:

-Drink from the cup of life every day and remember that every day is the first day of the rest of your life, so live it to the fullest.

-Steal a moment each day, every day, to help someone less fortunate than you.

-Swear every day that you’ll be a better person than you were the day before.

-When you lie down at night, thank God for allowing you to live in the greatest community, the greatest Commonwealth, and the greatest country on God’s green earth.


Kentucky Apprenticeship Conference Returns to General Butler State Park Sept. 30–Oct. 2

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KAConferenceCenterConference includes leaders in business, education, government, labor                        

CARROLLTON, Ky.  – The Kentucky Apprenticeship Conference was held at General Butler State Park in Carrollton Sept. 30-Oct. 2. Leaders from business, education, government and labor backgrounds attended the conference, which the Kentucky Labor Cabinet sponsors.

“Apprenticeship is a powerful tool for improving lives,” said Labor Cabinet Secretary Larry L. Roberts. “Small businesses and large companies all agree there is a skills gap across the globe, and they need the right workers for the right jobs. Here in Kentucky, it’s our goal to have a highly-skilled workforce that attracts companies from all over the world.”

In addition to Secretary Roberts, other high profile speakers included Rep. Larry Clark from Louisville; Ken Sheridan, chair of Kentucky’s Apprenticeship and Training Council; Patrick Reardon, director of Ohio Apprenticeship; Ron Crouch, director of Research and Statistics of the Kentucky Office of Employment and Training; Mike Riley of the Kentucky Career Centers; and Torsten Langguth, plant manager of Dr. Schneider Automotive Systems.

The conference included several seminars on key topics related to apprenticeship issues, such as apprenticeships in the future job market, the role of tax credits for registered apprenticeships, initiatives in healthcare and best practices in high-tech manufacturing.

“It’s an exciting time in the apprenticeship world, not only in Kentucky, but all across the nation,” said Mike Donta, Kentucky’s supervisor of Apprenticeship. “There is a renewed interest in investing in our future workforce.”

“Forward thinking leaders of companies see apprenticeship as a necessary investment, not just a cost,” said Angie College, co-chairperson of the Kentucky Apprenticeship Conference Steering Committee. “Apprenticeship can be utilized in so many career areas, and more and more companies are taking advantage of this pathway to success.”

There are more than 150 registered apprenticeship programs already in Kentucky. For a list of those programs, click here. Registered apprenticeship offers access to 1,000 career areas, including the following top occupations throughout the U.S.:

  • Carpenter
  • Chef
  • Child care development specialist
  • Construction craft laborer
  • Dental assistant
  • Electrician
  • Law enforcement agent
  • Over-the-road truck driver

For more on registered apprenticeship, visit www.labor.ky.gov.

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Marissa Dove: Finding the Greater Meaning

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CropDOVEtitlePICThe first thing you notice about Gideon is his smile. It’s a big, wide smile, and at seven years old he’s lost his two front teeth, which makes his smile even that more infectious and fun.

Then he laughs.

His laugh is like music, soft and alive, and it’s a laugh that starts fast and stays in the air after he has stopped laughing and is simply smiling again. He has big, brown chocolate eyes that flash like searchlights all around, and he is always absorbing his surroundings.

What is his favorite thing to do? He thinks for a second, looks up and says, “Ride my bike.” When asked what he wants to do when he grows up, he replies without hesitation: “Ride bikes.”

Of course. Then he laughs again.

He sits in his mother’s lap in a soft blue chair in my office while I interview them for this story. In one moment, he takes his hand and flicks his mother’s pony tail back and forth, and a second later he wraps his arm gently around her head and puts his cheek right up against her face. He loves her. He loves her as much as any other 7-year-old boy loves his mommy.

His mother says it’s ok, and I pull a bite-size Hershey bar from my desk drawer. Thankfully I just replenished the stash that morning, and I hand it to him. His eyes grow big and he waits for a moment. In that moment I smile and say, “You don’t like chocolate, do you?”

“I do.” Right as he takes it he says, “Thank you.” It’s the most heartfelt thank you. It’s real. It’s sincere. This kid has manners and he has style.

He doesn’t just toss down the chocolate wrapper, either. He hands it back to me – and, despite the obvious temptation and the knowledge that I have more, he doesn’t ask for another. This kid has a depth of character that goes a long way. His mommy seems proud of him, and she looks at him with warm, kind eyes. These are eyes with a pure fondness in them that only a mother has.

But his mother isn’t his birth mother. The Labor Cabinet’s Marissa Dove and her husband, Chris, went more than 7,500 miles to Uganda to adopt him this year. DSC_0062

Uganda is a progressive and stable country by relative standards in Africa, but it’s still one of the poorest nations in the world. According to data from the World Bank, in 2012, about 38 percent of the population lived on less than $1.25 a day. About 57 percent of adults there have HIV, and the World Health Organization reports that only about 34 percent of people have access to “improved” sanitation.

“In the orphanage,” says Marissa, “Gideon was the oldest male. He had a lot of responsibility.” Gideon lived in an orphanage from the age of one.

“It’s a small compound,” says Marissa, who spent many days there with him when she first met him. The orphanage has a brick fence around it for safety. It’s a small, cinder block building with tan walls and a tin roof. About 20 children live there with four or five caretakers who are all women and are called “mommas.” The playground equipment is a bit rusty, but the faded paint has a mix of happy colors like yellow, red and sky blue. Laundry hangs to dry on the monkey bars, and there is a clothesline stretched across the green grass. DSC_0024

“By orphanage standards it was pretty nice,” says Marissa. “They kept it very clean. But it was still very poor, and they didn’t have a lot.”

Things were about to get a lot worse for Gideon. He was about to go from being the big boy at the baby’s home to a lonely youngster in a regular orphanage, a place typically over-crowded, extremely under-funded, and a lot more hopeless.

“Those are not good places,” says Marissa. “You’re talking about abuse, severe neglect, and malnutrition.”

“We originally started to adopt an infant, somebody three or younger, and as we went through the process we saw the need to adopt older children.”

The whole process was long and difficult. Marissa and her husband, who were high school sweethearts and have been married since 2005, began thinking about adoption after they found out they could not have children of their own. In November 2012, they narrowed their search to Africa, and used an adoption agency. They had to undergo numerous investigations, background checks, finger printing, and attend 100 hours of adoption training and state foster parenting classes.

It’s an expensive process, too. “A typical international adoption costs more than $30,000,” Marissa says. “Ours was more than that. The ballpark is $30,000 to $50,000.” 

Marissa and her husband are generous and caring people. Her husband is the children’s minister at Capital City Church in Frankfort, and Marissa has been at the Labor Cabinet since 2013. Among her many duties, she oversees OSHA Express, a crucial data collection system, for the Compliance Division. She enjoys her job, which gives her a chance to improve workplace safety and do a public service for the workers of Kentucky.


DSC_0191In March of this year, they first found out about Gideon. In June, they flew to Uganda for the first time to attend a court hearing for approval on the adoption.

 “Uganda is beautiful,” she says. “You can’t imagine the beauty of it. There are red dirt roads, and then the sky is so blue, and the grass and the jungle are green; all these beautiful earth tones.”

In Kampala, everywhere people were out and about along the streets and markets, wearing bright clothing and talking. Rows of bright green plantains lined the dirt along the storefronts where rusty trucks, old cars, vans, motorcycles and mopeds bustled along in a continuous stream.

“Cars honking and chatter and animals – you can’t imagine how many people there are. It’s very social. You see people and they are happy to be out and talking to each other.”

Marissa, her husband, their lawyer and their social worker all arrived at the judge’s chambers for their adoption hearing in Masaka, a small town about 70 miles southwest of Kampala and near the shoreline of Lake Victoria, Africa’s largest lake and the largest tropical lake in the world.

They crowded into a small room, squeezed onto a couch and faced the judge.

“The judges in Uganda are very stern. The judges have a lot of power. Everybody prepared us to go, and they say the judge might grill you, and they are really negative toward Americans.”

It went fast. The judge looked at Marissa and her husband for a few moments. He asked a couple questions and that was that.

“It was five minutes long,” says Marissa with a laugh. They were given a verbal approval, but would still have to wait for the official word.

They flew home to Kentucky with the understanding that it could be weeks or months before they were given approval to travel back. It ended up being two weeks later when they found out they had been granted guardianship of Gideon. They flew back to Uganda to get him.

“We were busy. Plane tickets, packing and getting everything switched around to be out of the country.”

They met Gideon again and told him he was going to be part of their family. He flashed his wide smile and gave them his musical laugh. DSC_0033

“We feel like we hit the jackpot with him,” says Marissa.

While in Uganda, they went on a safari with an AK-47-toting park ranger. They saw lions. They saw elephants, giraffes and water buffalo. They went to a chimpanzee sanctuary.

“It was like Jurassic Park,” says Marissa. Gideon loved it. He loved every minute of it. Despite growing up in Uganda, he had never been much farther than the little compound of his orphanage. “He still talks about the lions.”

Then they flew home. He loves watching Thomas the Tank Engine. He loves superheroes. He loves Coca-Cola. His favorite food? Chicken. Any type. DSC_0183

Marissa and her husband have taken him on canoeing trips and places like the Newport Aquarium and the Louisville Science Center. I ask him if he likes Kentucky and he smiles and sticks his thumb high in the air.

He has a new home here. It’s a home of love. At first, his new parents told him he could call them Marissa and Chris. It wasn’t long at all, however, that it became Mommy and Daddy.

Toward the end of the interview, I hand him a yellow notepad and a blue ink pen. He writes his name: Gideon, a Biblical name that means “mighty warrior” and then his surname from Uganda, Muwanguzi, which means “winner.”

He writes another name, too, which has even greater meaning. It means he has found love in a new place where he belongs– with a family he loves and who loves him right back: He writes “Dove.”

Dove name

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Kentucky Labor Cabinet Partners with U.S. Department of Labor to Protect Misclassified Workers

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Misclassification wheelFraud hurts workers, taxpayers and Kentucky’s economy

FRANKFORT, Ky. (July 15, 2015) – Today the Kentucky Labor Cabinet announced a partnership with the U.S. Department of Labor to combat the misclassification of employees as independent contractors. Under a memorandum of understanding, both agencies may share information and coordinate law enforcement.

“Simply put, misclassification cheats workers, steals from taxpayers, hurts businesses that follow the law, and weakens our economy,” said Labor Cabinet Secretary Larry L. Roberts. “Although legitimate independent contractors are an important part of our economy, the misclassification of employees presents a serious problem that is happening at public and private projects all over the Commonwealth.”

Employers that misclassify employees as independent contractors cut costs by not paying payroll taxes, Social Security and workers’ compensation coverage. Misclassification reduces an employer’s labor and related costs, thereby allowing a business to underbid competitors.

“Misclassification deprives workers of their hard-earned wages and undercuts law-abiding businesses,” said Dr. David Weil, U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour administrator. “Combating misclassification is one of several important steps the U.S. Labor Department is taking to ensure that workers receive a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.”

Workers who suspect they are victims of misclassification can fill out a wage and hour complaint form online at www.labor.ky.gov.

For more information about federal wage laws, or to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor, call the Wage and Hour Division’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243).


Kentucky Labor Cabinet Teams with Buzick Construction on Distillery Project in Bardstown

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Bardstown Bourbon handshake closeupThe Bardstown Bourbon Company set to open in 2016

BARDSTOWN, Ky. (July 21, 2015) – In an effort to increase safety during the construction of a new distillery project in Bardstown, Buzick Construction has entered into its first Construction Partnership Program with the Kentucky Labor Cabinet. The formal site-based agreement allows the Labor Cabinet to conduct numerous jobsite audits during the construction of The Bardstown Bourbon Company’s $25 million, 37,000-square-foot facility in the Nelson County Industrial Park.

Kentucky Labor Cabinet Secretary Larry L. Roberts today joined company officials from Buzick and Bardstown Bourbon for the official signing of the agreement.

“This facility is an exciting addition to one of Kentucky’s signature industries, and we all want to see zero accidents during its construction,” said Secretary Roberts. “Construction is the deadliest job in Kentucky, and that’s why it’s crucial to have as many experts as possible working to identify any hazards on a project.”

The Labor Cabinet’s data on worker fatalities shows that construction workers have more work-related deaths than any other job in Kentucky.

“We greatly value the opportunity to partner with the Labor Cabinet to both ensure the safety of our hard working men and women and to use this as a learning experience to make our future jobsites even safer,” said Donald Blincoe, vice president of Buzick Construction.

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Rendering of completed Bardstown Bourbon Company

Based in Bardstown since 1937, Buzick has built hundreds of whiskey warehouses and other industrial structures for distilleries throughout Kentucky and Tennessee. The company is a full design-build firm that can handle projects of any size or complexity.

Set on 100 acres of active farmland and adjacent to the Bluegrass Parkway, The Bardstown Bourbon Company forms the gateway to Bardstown, Kentucky, the “Bourbon Capital of the World.” This first-of-its-kind Napa Valley style campus will feature a unique and transparent educational experience, high-end tours and tastings, an integrated visitors center, event space, and eventually a restaurant and boutique hotel. This will be the fifth bourbon distillery in Nelson County. The facility is set to open in summer of 2016.

Kentucky produces 95 percent of the world’s bourbon. The Kentucky Distiller’s Association estimates that the industry includes more than 15,000 jobs with an annual payroll of more than $700 million in the Commonwealth.

“The safety of our construction team is our number-one concern,” said David Mandell, president and CEO of The Bardstown Bourbon Company. “We look to support the community of Bardstown in everything we do, and that starts with ensuring the safety of the men and women building our facility.”

As part of the Construction Partnership Program, workplace safety experts with the Labor Cabinet’s Office of Occupational Safety and Health will make frequent visits to the site. Visits begin with an on-site conference of employees and subcontractors followed by a walk-through inspection to identify hazards.

All findings are discussed in a closing conference, followed within days by a detailed presentation of any hazards. In addition, abatement dates are set for deficiencies that have not already been corrected, and written reports will be prepared for Buzick.

Including this latest project, the Labor Cabinet is involved with 14 ongoing Construction Partnership Programs across the Commonwealth. This number fluctuates frequently as projects are added or completed.

Companies wishing to participate in the program can find out more by visiting www.labor.ky.gov or by clicking here.

To learn more about Buzick, visit www.teambuzick.com. For more on The Bardstown Bourbon Company, visit www.bardstownbourbon.com.

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Electro Cycle Earns Governor’s Safety and Health Award

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ElectroCycle Madisonville employees go more than four years without a lost-time injury

MADISONVILLE, Ky. (Sept. 9, 2015) – Kentucky Labor Cabinet Deputy Secretary Rocky Comito presented the employees of Madisonville-based aluminum recycler, Electro Cycle, with the Governor’s Safety and Health Award. The Electro Cycle team has gone more than 380,000 hours over the span of 1,460 work days without a lost-time incident.

Kentucky Labor Secretary Larry L. Roberts said being injury-free is a goal every company should set.

“Major injuries are almost always preventable, but the consequences can last forever,” said Secretary Roberts. “Electro Cycle has made a clear focus to prevent injuries, and that is an example for every workplace in Kentucky.”

The last lost-time incident for Electro Cycle was in August 2011. To maintain an injury-free environment for more than four calendar years, Electro Cycle credits a corporate safety plan and help from free consultative surveys from the Labor Cabinet’s Education and Training Division. Employee-led safety teams, safety events, near-miss tracking and a variety of other programs have all played a role in strengthening the team’s focus on safety.

“There is nothing we do that is more important than the safety of our employees,” said Rick Merluzzi, president and chief operating officer of Metal Exchange Corporation. “Electro Cycle’s focus on safety is reflective of our corporate commitment to safety across the organization, and we congratulate the Electro Cycle team for their outstanding accomplishment. Such achievements help pave the way for that facility to become one of the best employers in the region.”

Electro Cycle is a subsidiary of Metal Exchange Corporation, a private, family-owned company with its global headquarters in St. Louis, Missouri. Metal Exchange Corporation and its family of companies are industry leaders in non-ferrous metals — from purchasing to manufacturing and processing. The Madisonville facility employs 46 people and specializes in recycling light gauge scrap, turnings and high magnesium alloys. Electro Cycle uses advanced induction melting technology to recycle a wide array of scrap products.

The Labor Cabinet presents the Governor’s Safety and Health Award in recognition of outstanding safety and health performance. An establishment may qualify for the award if its employees together achieve a required number of hours worked without experiencing a lost-time injury or illness. The required number of hours is dependent upon the number of employees. The requirement for Electro Cycle was 250,000 hours.

The Governor’s Safety and Health Award program is part of Gov. Steve Beshear’s efforts to improve the health of all Kentuckians. The Governor launched kyhealthnow last year as an aggressive and wide-ranging initiative to reduce incidents and deaths from Kentucky’s dismal health rankings and habits. It builds on Kentucky’s successful implementation of health care reform and uses multiple strategies over the next several years to improve the state’s collective health.

Every establishment within the geographical boundaries of Kentucky is eligible for the award, even if the establishment won the award the previous year. Eligibility is limited to one award during a 12-month period of time.

For more on the Governor’s Safety and Health Award, and for a list of past winners, click here.

For more on Electro Cycle, visit www.metalexchangecorp.com.

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