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GOP: Don’t Do Business with Outlaws!

The GOP Senate is trying to dismantle President Obama’s labor legacy by nullifying an Executive Order that stops federal contractors from breaking federal laws.University of Oregon Professor Gordon Lafer explains why the GOP is wrong, below.

An Executive Order to Protect Workers from ‘Outlaw’ Contractors

by Gordon Lafer

This week, corporate lobbyists are swarming Capitol Hill to persuade Republican U.S. Senators to gut one of President Obama’s most important achievements for American workers — the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order.

The purpose of the order should be uncontroversial. The order requires that companies seeking publicly funded contracts report any record of violating workers’ rights on the job — so that ethical employers are not subject to unfair competition from those who cut corners by illegally cheating American workers.
As Obama explained at the White House signing ceremony on July 31, 2014, “Taxpayer dollars should not reward companies that break the law.”
However, corporate lobbyists claim that the U.S. procurement system already has enough safeguards in place to protect workers from unscrupulous contractors.
The facts show the opposite.  
Since 2013, Good Jobs Nation — a group representing 2 million low-wage employees of federal contractors –  has filed more than 30 legal complaints on behalf of 500 workers documenting systemic wage theft, misclassification, and other labor law violations at the Pentagon, the Ronald Reagan Building, theSmithsonian Museums, and other federal offices in Washington, D.C.
And just last week, a National Labor Relations Board investigation revealed that the Pentagon’s biggest food service contractor threatened and intimidated workers for exercising their right to organize. To add insult to injury, the Pentagon fast food workers also filed a wage theft complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor to stop rampant wage theft.
Research shows that illegal activity by taxpayer-funded corporations is a national epidemic.
A U.S. Senate report revealed that federal contractors were responsible for nearly one-third of the largest U.S. Department of Labor penalties for wage theft.  In 2012,42 workers died on the job as a result OSHA violations by federally-funded contractors. Furthermore, because of lax oversight and enforcement, a Government Accountability Office analysis showed that known violators have continued to receive lucrative federal contracts.
Given this track record of corporate malfeasance and ineffective oversight, the lobbyists for big contractors should not be allowed to rewrite the National Defense Authorization Act to exempt Department of Defense contractors from the purview of the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order.  
GOP senators know that the federal contractors they oversee are guilty of violating federal labor laws. It’s time they stand up for American workers and crack down on law-breakers by upholding the president’s order.

Did You Know?

In the past month – from coast to coast – thousands of low-wage U.S. contract workers walked off their jobs to stop federal contractors from breaking federal labor laws.

Politico: Port truck drivers in Los Angeles went on strike earlier this month to protest law-breaking by XPO Logistics, a major Defense contractor which holds nearly $1.7 billion in federal contracts. The California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement has cited the company multiple times for illegal misclassification of drivers as independent contractors and OSHA has cited the company 105 timessince 2010 for health and safety violations.

The Baltimore Sun: US Foods – the second largest food service distributor in the US and a major federal contractor – announced that it was moving work from itsunionized Severn, Maryland distribution warehouse to a non-union facility in Virginia with lower pay and pensions, leading to a wave of strikes around the country. US Foods currently faces nine pending investigations alleging that it has violated the National Labor Relations Act.