ELGIN - Guest speaker State Labor Commissioner Leslie Osborn shared information about various services the agency offers to small businesses at yesterday's Elgin Chamber of Commerce meeting.
Attendees received a summary on Oklahoma's child labor laws, wage and hour laws, commercial business inspections, free safety consultations offered for small businesses and the partnership between the Oklahoma Department of Labor and the Potts Family Foundation. Citing the federal statute that outlines the child labor laws, Osborn explained some of the restrictions that are enforced regarding the hiring of teens. She also described the agency as acting as an advocate for employees who work hours, yet don't get paid in full. Osborn said the ODOL's Wage and Hour Unit will conduct investigations and if a complaint is found to be valid, the agency can then go after employers to seek wage compensation. Last year, she said the agency brought in over a million dollars for employees, across all 77 counties, that hadn't been paid wages for hours they had worked. On average, she said the amount came to about a $800 payout per person.
According to Osborn, in the last six months, the ODOL has noticed a significant "uptick" of complaints about workers not being paid in the medical marijuana industry. Many of the businesses just aren't knowledgeable enough about the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA), labor laws and wages, she said. By next year, Osborn says she estimates least half of all current medical marijuana businesses in the State of Oklahoma will be shut down due to a lack of knowledge about the current laws. Small business owners who want to be proactive can participate in the ODOL's free safety consultation project. If a business agrees to the services, Osborn says ODOL will "embed" someone into the facility's day-to-day operations and come up with a safety plan to address any noticeable concerns. She said it's a free way to fix safety issues before any possible encounters with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) arise. While the ODOL is unable to provide assistance if someone can't afford childcare services while they work, Osborn mentioned that the agency does have the capacity to connect people to other agencies that can provide support through the Potts Family Foundation. According to the PFF website, "We collaborate with other entities to leverage people, material and dollar resources and secure greater results. We also provide annual grants in support of our priority initiatives."
ELGIN COMMUNITY LIBRARY
The floor was then passed over to Jeanne Cook, President of the Elgin Community Library board, for details on the upcoming National Friends of the Libraries Week. Observed Oct. 20-26, NFLW will involve multiple events surrounding the ECL. A fundraiser at Trivet's Family Restaurant will be held on Oct. 25, from 4 - 8 p.m. The restaurant will be donating 10% of the proceeds to the Friends of the Elgin Community Library.
Last month’s meeting minutes were approved and with no new business to address, chamber members jumped straight into old business. The Elgin Chamber of Commerce Coat Drive will continue to accept donations of new, or gently used, coats, gloves, scarves and hats at any of the area's six drop-off locations through Oct. 30. Everything that is collected will stay local, said Chamber President Rachael Jones. All America Bank is also seeking donations for their food drive through Oct. 31.
AN ELGIN CHRISTMAS
A quick breakdown of plans for this year's 'An Elgin Christmas' was given by Realto Misty Julian. The event is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 7, and will be "bigger and better" than ever, Misty said. A Winter Wonderland will be set up at the KrissCross Gym location where pictures with Santa will be provided. Liberty National Bank parking lot will host food trucks and there will be more floats than before. Once again, the chamber will hold a wreath decorating contest. Any business wanting to decorate this year is asked to contact the chamber office manager, Marlene Howard.
The Elgin Chamber of Commerce will be launching a new website soon. Businesses who would like to add any events in the next six months to their calendar, can contact Marlene. Members are expecting the chamber webmail to be offline for a day while the website is adjusted but says they can still be reached via Facebook messenger. A notification email will be sent prior to the website launch.
New chamber business member, Elgin Nutrition, will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Saturday, Oct. 26, at 8:30 a.m.
This month's Business Brew will be held at the Elgin Community Library on Oct. 30, at 9 a.m.
NEXT CHAMBER MEETING
The next Elgin Chamber of Commerce meeting will be on Nov. 12, at Noon in the Elgin High School Library. Meetings are open to the public.