Issued July 25, 2022
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Last week, the Department of Labor released a proposed rule implementing President Biden's Executive Order granting job security to thousands of workers employed by government contractors. The Executive Order, issued last November, requires companies that win government service contracts to retain qualified workers as contracts change hands. Workers are celebrating the draft rule as a critical next step within a suite of reforms aimed at protecting workers employed on federal contracts.
“It would be such a relief to know that my job is protected because it would mean my family is protected too. In Virginia, most janitors like me don’t make this much or have these benefits which are so critical as a single mother with a child depending on me,” said Ana Ayala, a single mother and 32BJ SEIU member working as a contracted janitor at Fort Belvoir in Virginia.
“It’s necessary to have this protection because many of us are older and won’t be able to find jobs with these kinds of wages and benefits. Our families rely on us and can’t survive without our income. I’m a single mother paying for my son’s college which wouldn’t be possible without the job I have now.” Maria Del Pilar Constancia, a single mom with a son attending the University of Richmond living in Alexandria, VA and 32BJ janitor at Fort Belvoir in Virginia.
“I'm grateful to have a job my family and I can rely on, with an employer who accommodates my disability. And now, I know I won't be fired for no fault of my own,” says Terrance Morris, a janitor at the Carl B. Stokes Federal Court House in Cleveland OH and member of SEIU Local 1.
SEIU International President Mary Kay Henry said, “This proposed rule is an important step towards job security for thousands of SEIU members employed by federal contractors. These workers clean government buildings, protect travelers at San Francisco International Airport, and keep the public safe at historic sites like the Smithsonian Institution and in federal courthouses nationwide. Many of these essential workers are women, people of color, veterans, and people with disabilities and their work deserves to be respected, protected, and paid. Where the $15 minimum wage order lifted contract workers’ pay, today’s order helps ensure that workers are protected and their knowledge and experience is respected. We hope and expect that today’s order is another - but not the last - step to improve conditions for those whose essential work supports our federal government.”
About 2 million workers work for companies that the federal government has hired through contracts covered by the Service Contract Act (SCA). These are often low-wage jobs such as call centers, janitorial, and food services, industries characterized by workforces that are largely BIPOC, women, and/or people with disabilities. They provide essential services to our government, but don’t get the benefits of being a government employee. Contracts often change hands, putting workers at constant risk of losing their jobs, and public programs of losing those workers’ accumulated skills. President Biden’s Executive Order requires contractors to reduce turnover by offering workers the opportunity to keep their jobs when taking over a contract from another business.
The draft rule released yesterday opens a 30-day public comment period, after which the Department of Labor will issue a final rule.