Some 26 million people work for companies that do business with the federal government, so the rules for companies that bid on federal contracts are a big deal. And until recently, those rules were a problem. Companies that routinely violated labor laws--from wage theft and worker safety to race, gender and age discrimination--were able to sweep these violations under the rug and win gigantic contracts without so much as a promise to try to do better.
President Obama set out to fix this problem, issuing a directive last summer called the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order. It would require law-breaking corporations to agree to clean up their act before they receive any more federal contracts.
From working men and women who will be protected on the job to upstanding American businesses who will no longer have to fear being undercut by unscrupulous contractors, the news was met with applause.
Believe it or not, there's an effort afoot to tear down these new rules.
Why do extremist Republicans in Congress want to protect corporations that steal wages, violate safety laws and allow race, gender and age discrimination?
It's fair to ask why Republican members of Congress are trying to roll back worker protections considering the seriousness of the problem. Nearly 50 contractors that racked up significant labor law violations won $81 billion in federal contracts in 2012 alone. When we say "significant," we mean more than 1,700 violations that resulted in $196 million in back pay and penalties. That's outrageous.
At a congressional subcommittee hearing that's happening Thurs., Feb. 26 on the issue, Republicans will receive testimony from those who have a big-money stake in leaving things the way they were. They won't hear from working people or from the scores of businesses who will benefit from a fair playing field, because the anti-worker Republicans running the hearing don't want the truth to get in the way.
- Read 32BJ SEIU member Helen Santos' story in Spanish and English (automated translation). Santos was working as housekeeper at Walter Reed National Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., when the contractor she worked for started refusing to issue paychecks. "We work hard to ensure that soldiers receive the best service; this is not the place for companies that cheat employees out of their wages," she says.
- Find out how the Fair Play and Safe Workplaces Executive Order is a win-win-win for working people, businesses that play by the rules and all Americans.