Contact:
Sara Lonardo, sara.lonardo@seiu.org, 202/730-7162

Issued February 02, 2017

House Republicans vote to take away protections against unfair pay, dangerous workplaces for millions

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Republican leadership sided with big corporations against working people Thursday, taking aim at a major protection that would have helped taxpayers, law-abiding businesses, and the more than 1 in 5 Americans employed by companies that do business with the federal government. Members of the House of Representatives voted to repeal the protections of the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order by a 236 to 187 vote.

The order and regulations, which have been tied up in federal court, would have helped end the practice of awarding longtime law-breaking companies with federal contracts worth billions of dollars. Instead, the federal government has been halted from identifying companies with egregious labor law violations and encouraging them to clean up their acts and stop harming America’s working families before receiving future contracts.

“Having stronger protections at work would have given my co-workers and me peace of mind knowing that we have the strength of the government to hold our employer accountable if it breaks the law,” said Helen Avalos, a housekeeper for a federal contractor at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., and member of 32BJ SEIU. “This attack on protections that keep me and my co-workers safe is shameful.

“We work hard to make sure soldiers and sailors get the best service; this is not a place for companies that cheat their workers out of their wages or put us in harm’s way,” said the 39-year-old single mother of three. “Our communities will continue to stand up for fair pay and safe workplaces until all working people are respected.”

All too often, working people employed by federal contractors are cheated out of their hard-earned wages, or they are injured or killed on the job. According to a 2013 U.S. Senate report, nearly 1 in 3 companies with the worst safety and wage violations are federal contractors. Law-breaking government contractors shortchanged their workers by $82 million through wage theft and at least 42 workers died while employed by contracting companies with the worst safety violations. Still these law-breaking companies received $81 billion in federal contracts in a single year.

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