binoc.jpgThe Department of Labor is doing something the government agency should have done long ago — hire more people.

In May, the new Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis told everyone she was going to do it, and now it turns out she actually is.

There’s a story in the Wall Street Journal today that says she’s put the “help wanted’ sign up and is on track to hire 670 new investigators.

These men and women are going to go out there and enforce the nation’s labor laws — everything from enforcing wage and hour to child labor laws. The new workers are sorely needed because the agency was neglected under the Bush administration and workers there were over-taxed by the insane workload.

Solis is making big promises and hopefully she’ll follow through and make changes in her department, which has come under fire by the General Accounting Office for screwing up, even giving workers bogus information about their rights.

From the WSJ:

“The previous administration was not prone to fight on the side of worker protection and we’re going in that direction to level the playing field,” Ms. Solis said.

Business groups are wary that the playing field will tilt too far, at a time when many businesses are still fighting their way out of economic hard times.

“Employers, especially smaller ones, are really looking for help in terms of understanding the requirements and making sure they’re doing things right,” said Marc Freedman, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s executive director of labor law policy. Instead, the department’s “rhetoric” on workplace safety “seems to be heavy-handed enforcement and generation of more regulations,” he said.

I understand why Freedman has concerns, but after barely no enforcement for years it will be a welcome change for workers.

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