Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces EO

The Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces executive order requires contractors to comply with workplace laws before receiving new government contracts.

This rule has been repealed.

H.J. Res. 37 is sponsored by U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.).
S.J. Res. 12 is sponsored by U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.).
Please note that in the CRA process, this challenge is entitled DOD’s GSA & NASA federal acquisition regulation.

OVERVIEW

The Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces executive order helps ensure that all contractors comply with workplace laws, including health and safety standards, wage laws, and civil rights laws before they receive new contracts. The order promises to help raise standards for the more than one in five Americans employed by companies that do business with the federal government. It also will help prevent waste, fraud and abuse of taxpayer dollars and will allow law abiding businesses to compete on an even playing field.

Regulations implementing the order were finalized on Aug. 25, 2016, but a court order is preventing implementation. Advocates for workers, small businesses, veterans and people with disabilities, civil rights leaders, and many others support the policy.

Every year, the federal government contracts out hundreds of billions of dollars in goods and services. Although federal law requires the government to contract only with responsible companies with “a satisfactory record of performance, integrity, and business ethics,” the contracting system does not effectively review companies’ responsibility records before awarding contracts.

According to a 2013 U.S. Senate report, 30 percent of the worst violators of workplace safety and wage laws continued to receive federal contracts. And in fiscal year 2012, the government awarded $81 billion in contracts to these companies.

Moreover, the worst violators often have significant performance problems. These problems, according to a Center for American Progress Action report, include contractors submitting fraudulent billing statements, cost overruns, performance problems and schedule delays that cost taxpayers billions of dollars.

The Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order will help create a fair and consistent process by which the federal government can help ensure that all federal contractors comply with workplace laws and respect their workers.

IMPACTS

Too often, employees of federal contractors are cheated out of the wages they are owed, injured, or even killed on the job. Real people such as:

  • Jason Sweat, who claimed he went unpaid for many of the hours he worked destroying chemical weapons for a government contractor.
  • Rodney Bridgett, who was killed when a piece of heavy equipment crushed him.
  • Calvin Bryant, who was crippled in a workplace explosion that killed 14 co-workers.
  • Alma Aranda, who reportedly faced so much paperwork when attempting to access her legally guaranteed unpaid time off to care for her dying mother that her hair fell out in clumps.
  • Ana Ayala, who said her employer cut hours in violation of its government contract, forcing her to leave her daughter alone for longer hours in order to find additional jobs on nights and weekends.
OPPONENTS

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, several contracting trade associations and congressional Republican leadership oppose the rules, claiming that implementation of the order would be overly burdensome. Yet, the rules are similar to other legal reporting systems that have been in place in the federal procurement system for years and are currently working at the state level. Moreover, companies that hire contractors in the private sector are increasingly reviewing potential contractors’ workplace safety records, finding that this is a cost effective way to ensure future compliance. Indeed, at least 8 of the top-10 U.S. Department of Defense contractors already have experience reviewing their own contractors’ safety records—and some even go further than the order’s safety reporting requirements.

Not surprisingly a number of small businesses support the rules.  As construction contractor Bill Albanese stated about the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order, “It makes good business sense to vet the contractor before he gets the job. It’s common in our industry; we do it all the time, and we don’t see it as being a burden to any legitimate fair contractor that’s playing by the rules.”

TABLE: Political Spending by Opponents of the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces EO

Industry/Group Lobbying Political Spending % Political Spending to Republicans
National Association of Manufacturers $16,950,000 (2015) $39,112 (2016) 96%
 U.S. Chamber  $79,205,000 (2016)  $29,420,085 (2016) 99%

 

CONTACTS

Karla Walter, Center for American Progress, kwalter@americanprogress.org, (202) 682-1611

Glenn Adler, SEIU, glenn.adler@seiu.org, (202) 730-7335

Debbie Berkowitz, National Employment Law Project, dberkowitz@nelp.org, (202) 640-6520

NEWS AND RESOURCES

Workers’ Memorial Week 2017: Regulatory Rollbacks and Delays
Public Citizen: April 25, 2017

Wage Violators Retain Lucrative Federal Contracts, Says Government Watchdog
The Federal Times: April 7, 2017

Workers Cheated as Federal Contractors Prosper
Center for Public Integrity: April 6, 2017

Trump Repeals Workplace Protections Set Under Obama
Truth-Out: April 6, 2017

Trump Rolls Back Worker Protections on Federal Contracts
Our Future: April 4, 2017

Did You Vote For Unfair Pay and Unsafe Workplaces?
Our Future: March 28, 2017

Trump Just Signed a Law Ditching Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces
National Women’s Law Center: March 28, 2017

Trump Eviscerates Federal Contracting Rules
The American Prospect: March 27, 2017

Trump Repeals Regulation Protecting Workers From Wage Theft
The Huffington Post: March 27, 2017

Trump Makes Labor-Law Violators Eligible for Federal Contracts Again
The New Yorker: March 27, 2017

Worker Safety Takes Back Seat to Corporate Profits
The Teamsters: March 23, 2017

Senate Votes to Kill Obama Contractor Rule
The Center for Public Integrity: March 7, 2017

Who’s Against Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces?
The Hill: March 7, 2017

Senate Voted to Roll Back Workplace Protections
National Women’s Law Center: March 7, 2017

Republicans Just Made It Easier for Companies to Exploit Workers
The Huffington Post: March 6, 2017

Warren: Federal Contractors Repeatedly Violate Labor Laws
The Hill: March 6, 2017

Republicans Poised to Roll Back Worker Safety Regulations
The Washington Post: March 6, 2017

Federal Contract Workers Need the Protection of the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Rule
Economic Policy Institute: March 6, 2017

Congressional Republicans Work to Repeal Fair Pay and Safe Workplace Executive Order
Demos: March 6, 2017

GOP Deregulating Frenzy Takes Aim at Fair Pay and Safety Rules for Workers
Common Dreams: March 6, 2017

Contractor Fair Pay and Workplace Safety Rules in Peril
Project on Government Oversight: March 3, 2017

Obama’s Fair-Pay Order for Contractors Under Attack in Congress
The Washington Post: February 28, 2017

How Trump Could Protect Workers’ Rights
The New York Times: February 2, 2017

An Obama Executive Order That Trump Should Love
The Huffington Post: February 1, 2017

Congressional Vote Threatens Paychecks and Workplace Safety for Millions of Federal Contractors
Center for American Progress: January 31, 2017