Obama to uphold labor rights in deals with federal contractors

HTC — August 08, 2014

President Obama is pressing forward with a series of actions intended to improve living and workplace standards for working Americans. The president is set to sign an order that may motivate federal contractors to more closely adhere to federal labor law. The mandate will require large companies seeking federal contracts to disclose information on any labor violations the companies have committed in the past three years. Egregious violations and repeat offenses will then be considered when awarding federal contracts.

President Obama has issued a series of mandates to improve conditions for federal employees and employees of federal contractors. In February the President issued an order that raised the minimum wage of employees working for federal contractors to $10.10 per hour. Then in March he removed loopholes from federal labor law that had excluded many employees of federal contractors from overtime pay eligibility. 

The greatest accomplishment of Obama’s recent initiatives is likely to be that the mandates draw attention to the poor conditions for American laborers more broadly. While Obama has acted to address labor injustices committed by federal contractors, his actions leave unaddressed the low wages, insecure schedules, and unsafe workplace conditions facing a large percentage of working Americans.

There is already evidence that American workers feel Obama’s actions are far from sufficient. On July 26 low wage workers for federal contractors went on strike demanding higher wages. Their demands follow up on Obama’s recent initiative to raise the minimum wage, urging the president to push the minimum wage even higher.

Click the links below to read more about the latest executive orders regarding fair labor standards and their potential consequences:

Michael D Shear and Steven Greenhouse. Obama Plans New Scrutiny for Contractors on Labor Practices. The New York Times. July 30, 2014.

Laura Clawson. Obama to sign executive order requiring federal contractors to obey labor laws. The Daily Kos. July 31, 2014.

David S. Joachim. Obama Orders Rule Changes to Expand Overtime Pay. The New York Times. March 13, 2014.

George Zornick. Federal Contractors Strike to Demand Higher Wages. The Nation. July 29, 2014.