Read the Research


Acting Responsibly? Federal Contractors Frequently Put Workers’ Lives and Livelihoods at Risk

This investigation by the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Senate Committee is an analysis of two enforcement databases maintained by the Department of Labor (DOL). The DOL’s Wage and Hours Division (WHD) and Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA). The HELP committee staff found that almost 30 percent of the top violators of federal wage and safety laws are also current federal contractors. Overall, 49 federal contractors amassed a startling 1,776 separate enforcement actions in six years. These 49 companies received $81 billion in federal contracts in fiscal year 2012, and were assessed a total of $196 million in penalties for neglecting to pay workers earned wages or failing to uphold safe working conditions. For the full report, click here.

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Underwriting Bad Jobs: How Our Tax Dollars Are Funding Low-Wage Work and Fueling Inequality

This report by Demos is an analysis encompassing U.S. workers employed by government contractors. The study found that two million private sector employees working on behalf of America earn wages too low to support a family, making $12 or less per hour. This is more than the number of low-wage workers at Walmart and McDonalds combined. These two million workers make barely enough to afford essentials like food, health care, utilities and rent. However, hundreds of billions of dollars in federal contracts, grants, loans, concession agreements and property leases go to private companies that pay low wages, provide few benefits, and offer employees little opportunity to work their way into the middle class. At the same time, many of these companies are providing their executives with exorbitant compensation. For the full report, click here.

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Taking the Low Road: How the Federal Government Promotes Poverty-Wage Jobs Through its Contracting Practices

This report by the National Employment Law Project (NELP) is a compilation of interviews from 567 workers who have fallen through the cracks created by the federal contracted system. The study found that nearly 74 percent earned less than $10 an hour, 26 percent reported receiving paid sick days, and only 11 percent received employer-provided health insurance. In the report, NELP provides guidance to policy-makers by detailing some of the increasingly complicated contractual relationships that connect low-wage workers to the federal government. For the full report, click here.