Gov. Malloy Announces Retirement of Labor Commissioner Sharon M. Palmer
(HARTFORD, CT) - Governor Dannel P. Malloy today announced that Connecticut Department of Labor Commissioner Sharon M. Palmer has opted to retire from the agency at the end of this year. Commissioner Palmer began her position as the head of the department in August 2012 and was reappointed earlier this year when the Governor began his second term in office.
"I have always known Sharon to be an advocate for helping others, and have been impressed with her focus on workforce and education issues in our state, because both create good jobs and deliver a strong economy for Connecticut," Governor Malloy said. "Under Sharon's tenure, many successful employment programs and services were developed and launched. I thank her for her unwavering dedication and her service."
Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman said, "Sharon Palmer is a true ally for Connecticut's workforce. Her tenure at the Department of Labor is marked by stronger jobs initiatives, robust workforce training programs, and a renewed confidence in Connecticut's growing economy. She is a tremendously committed and talented public servant, and a good friend. I will miss her good humor and good counsel. I wish her well in her retirement."
"This has been the job of my dreams and it has been my greatest honor to serve as Connecticut's Labor Commissioner," Commissioner Palmer said. "Governor Malloy's support of our agency's initiatives has been key to our success in building effective workforce programs for the residents of this state. I am proud of the accomplishments we have achieved, and much of that success rests with the dedicated employees that bring expertise and innovative ideas to the programs we offer."
Under Commissioner Palmer's leadership, major accomplishments at the agency include:
- Created a partnership between the agency and state's Division of Criminal Justice to fight unemployment insurance fraud by prosecuting offenders for collecting benefits to which they were not entitled. This "Chasing Cheaters" initiative has recouped more than $800,000 and is preventing millions from being fraudulently collected.
- Helped the agency to secure a $5 million federal grant to increase apprenticeship programs in high-demand fields, such as manufacturing, healthcare, business services and construction.
- Ramped up efforts to fight misclassification - the illegal practice of treating employees as independent contractors which has a negative impact on the state's economy. Employers deliberately misclassifying employees avoid paying employment-related taxes, create an unfair business climate, and deprive the state of tax revenues while workers are denied certain employment protections, such as workers' compensation coverage or below-minimum wages.
- Led the agency to win a $6 million federal Pipeline Initiative Grant to provide short-term, certificate-based customized training to fill in-demand manufacturing jobs in eastern Connecticut, specifically with Electric Boat and for employers within the Eastern Advanced Manufacturing Alliance. The grant will help place unemployed and underemployed individuals into well-paying, long-term careers. The requested grant amount of $3.9 million was increased to $6 million, based on successes on a smaller scale.
- Formed a partnership with the Department of Economic and Community Development to develop a program through the state's Manufacturing Innovation Fund to provide wage subsidies and tuition reimbursements to eligible companies in order to increase the number of apprentices in Connecticut.
- Successfully implemented the state's Subsidized Training and Employment Program (Step Up), resulting in over 3,800 new jobs. The program, which offers wage and training subsidies to employers that hire unemployed jobseekers, has helped nearly 1,300 companies expand and train their workforce.
- Secured a $1.2 million federal grant to expand the agency's Shared Work program and fund public outreach and education strategies to educate employers and the public about the benefits of the program, which is geared to save jobs and prevent layoffs.
Governor Malloy and Lt. Governor Wyman will launch a search for a successor to serve as Labor Commissioner.