Furthering the administration’s anti-worker agenda (and its “deconstruction of the administrative state”), the U.S. Senate is poised on Monday to block an Obama-era executive order that ensures federal contractors adhere to labor laws, even as a new report from Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) underscores the need for the order by documenting repeated violations by companies that held federal contracts.
The Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces order, signed by President Barack Obama in 2014 and effective in 2016, makes “it harder for companies to win federal contracts if they violate their workers’ rights and withhold their wages” by making “companies that apply for federal contracts larger than half a million dollars […] disclose any major labor law violations they or their subcontractors have committed in the previous three years” and “prohibit[s] companies that do business with the government from requiring their workers to agree to arbitration processes for workplace harassment or civil rights complaints, guaranteeing that workers who are sexually harassed or discriminated against can get their day in court,” as ThinkProgress explained at the time.
“We know the executive order was necessary,” the ACLU wrote last week, “because, according to a 2013 U.S. Senate report, federal contractors employ about 22 percent of the American workforce (approximately 26 million workers) and, shockingly, 30 percent of the worst violators of workplace safety and wage laws continued to receive federal contracts.”
As such, undoing the order, wrote Celine McNicholas of Economic Policy Institute, means “there will be no effective system in place to ensure that taxpayer dollars support contractors with good health and safety records. Who benefits from this? Contractors that kill and injure workers.”
Further detailing its need is Warren’s new report (pdf), based on data from the Department of Labor, which states that “of the federal government’s 100 largest contractors, which, combined, received nearly $240 billion in taxpayer payments in 2015, 66 have been caught breaking federal labor law.” It notes that the top federal contractor, Lockheed Martin, “has nearly 3,000 violations and has agreed to pay its workers almost $3.5 million in back wages.”
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