Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order
The Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order (Executive Order 13673, hereafter "the E.O.") is an executive order issued under President Obama on July 31, 2014 that aims to ensure that federal contractors comply with federal wage laws, health and safety standards, and civil rights laws. Federal contractors are pushing back hard on the E.O. Please see the Sourcewatch.org profiles of the HR Policy Association and the Professional Services Council for more.
See the February 2016 special report from the Center for Media and Democracy "Reporter's Guide: Federal Contractors with History of Repeat OSHA Violations Battle New Safety Rules."
In 2014, the U.S. Department of Labor estimated that some 24,000 businesses have federal contracts. But "the opportunity to contract with the federal government is a privilege, not an entitlement. Taxpayer dollars should not reward corporations that break the law, and contractors who meet their responsibilities should not have to compete against those who do not," U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez said of the E.O.
Lobbyists and trade associations that represent major contractors, including the HR Policy Association and the Professional Services Council, have been major opponents of the E.O. Many of their member companies and/or member companies' subsidiaries have histories of labor law violations that would be actionable under the E.O. See more below.
See Related Articles for links to additional reports and information on federal contractors, the E.O., and other labor issues.
What Is Reportable Under the Executive Order?
The E.O. requires that companies applying for federal contracts of $500,000 or more make a report to the contracting agency that details "any administrative merits determination, arbitral award or decision, or civil judgment" in the preceding three years for violations under any of the following labor laws:
- The Fair Labor Standards Act
- The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970
- The Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act
- The National Labor Relations Act
- 40 U.S.C. chapter 31, subchapter IV (The Davis-Bacon Act)
- 41 U.S.C. chapter 67 (The Service Contract Act)
- Executive Order 11246 of September 24, 1965 (Equal Employment Opportunity)
- Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973
- 38 U.S.C. 3696, 3698, 3699, 4214, 4301-4306, (The Vietnam Era Veterans' Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974)
- The Family and Medical Leave Act
- Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
- The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990
- The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967
- Executive Order 13658 of February 12, 2014 (Establishing a Minimum Wage for Contractors)
- Or equivalent State laws, as defined in guidance issued by the Department of Labor.
Opposition to the Executive Order
Human Resources Policy Association
The Human Resources Policy Association (HR Policy Association or HRPA) is a trade association describing itself as "the lead public policy organization of chief human resource officers" and represents more than 360 corporations in the United States, many of them federal contractors. HRPA is a major opponent of the E.O.
HRPA claims that its members "have a long standing commitment to complying with all federal and state employment and labor laws," but many of the member companies represented on its board of directors and/or their subsidiaries have multiple serious and repeat violations of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) workplace safety standards that would be actionable under the E.O.
See the article HR Policy Association for more.
Professional Services Council
The Professional Services Council (PSC) is a trade association describing itself as "the leading advocate and resource for the federal professional and technical services industry." It has around 370 member corporations. PSC is a major opponent of the E.O.
In a 2015 statement to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, then-PSC President Stan Soloway claimed, "There is no evidence of a widespread problem of pervasive, repeated or willful violations of labor laws by federal contractors," and called the order "a de facto blacklisting of well-intentioned, ethical businesses." However, many of PSC's member companies and/or their subsidiaries have multiple serious violations of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) workplace safety standards that would be actionable under the E.O.
See the article Professional Services Council for more.
Other corporations and organizations representing corporate interests that have lobbied on the E.O. include:
- Associated Builders and Contractors
- Business Roundtable
- U.S. Chamber of Commerce
- Fluor Corporation
- "Complex Litigation Awaits Fair Pay Executive Order," Bloomberg BNA, April 1, 2016.
Guidance for Implementation and Public Comments
President Obama signed the E.O. on July 31, 2014. The Department of Labor published proposed guidance for implementing the E.O. on May 27, 2015, followed by a 60-day public comment period. Proposed guidance and filed comments can be found here: Guidance for Executive Order 13673, "Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces". As of February 2016, the Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council, or FAR Council, of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is working on finalizing regulations related to the E.O.
- "Reporters' Guide: Federal Contractors with History of OSHA Violations Battle New Safety Rules," PR Watch, February 16, 2016.
- Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order
- Professional Services Council
- HR Policy Association
PR Watch Series on OSHA Violators
- "From Receptionists to Rocket Scientists, MANPOWER Undermines Higher Wages," PR Watch, September 3, 2015.
- "DuPont Rakes in Federal Dollars Despite History of Hazards," PR Watch, February 29, 2016.
- "Honeywell's String of Dangerous Close Calls Doesn't Stop Flow of Taxpayer Dollars," PR Watch, March 9, 2016.
- "The Safety Violations Billion-Dollar Contractor BAE Systems Should Have to Disclose," PR Watch, March 16, 2016.
- "Shaky Safety Record for Billion-Dollar Contractor AECOM Overseeing Nuclear Facilities," PR Watch, March 31, 2016.
- "Acting Responsibly? Federal Contractors Frequently Put Workers' Lives and Livelihoods at Risk," U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, Tom Harkin, Chair. December 11, 2013.
- "At Our Expense: Federal Contractors that Harm Workers Also Shortchange Taxpayers," Karla Walter and David Madland, Center for American Progress, December 2013.
- Occupational Safety and Health Administration, OSHA homepage.
- Federal Contractor Misconduct Database, Project on Government Oversight.
- President Barack Obama, "Executive Order -- Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces," Executive Order, July 31, 2014.
- White House, Office of the Press Secretary, "FACT SHEET: Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order," fact sheet, July 31, 2014.
- U.S. Department of Labor, "Department of Labor and Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council Propose Guidance, Rule to Implement Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order," press release, May 27, 2015.
- HR Policy Association, "About," organizational website, October 20, 2015.
- HR Policy Association, "RE: Notice of Proposed Guidance for Executive Order 13673, 'Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces'," filed comments, August 26, 2015.
- Professional Services Council, "About PSC," organizational website, accessed November 2015.
- Stan Soloway, "The Blacklisting Executive Order: Rewriting Federal Labor Policies Through Executive Fiat," testimony to U.S. House of Representatives, Joint Hearing of the Workforce Protections & Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittees and the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, February 26, 2015.
- Center for Responsive Politics, Lobbying Issues: Associated Builders and Contractors, Open Secrets database, accessed February 2016.
- Business Roundtable, "BRT Letter on Federal Contracting, 'Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces' Order," letter to General Services Administration and U.S. Department of Labor, August 26, 2015.
- Center for Responsive Politics, Specific Issues Reports for S.J.RES.8 by US Chamber of Commerce, 114th Congress, Open Secrets database, accessed February 2016.
- Center for Responsive Politics, Lobbying Issues: Fluor Corp, Open Secrets database, accessed February 2016.
- Center for Responsive Politics, Lobbying Issues: Hewlett-Packard, Open Secrets database, accessed February 2016.