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"This is insane"

America is now great again because federal contractors can now rip off and endanger 14,000 employees

Press and Media's picture
Mar 07, 2017

Some more bad news from Washington, DC as the Huffington Post reports that Trump and his merry band of Congressional idiots have repealed the Fair Pay and Safe Workplace rule, an Executive Order that has protected 14,000 federal contractors. Make America Great Again. 

Employers who cheat their workers or endanger their lives now have one less thing to worry about, courtesy of the GOP Congress.

Senate Republicans voted Monday to kill an executive order issued by former President Barack Obama known as the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces rule. The 49-48 vote, with all Democrats opposed, eliminates a regulation issued late in Obama’s presidency that would have made it harder for companies to secure federal contracts if they have a documented history of wage theft or workplace hazards.

Following in the footsteps of House Republicans, GOP senators used what’s known as a “resolution of disapproval” under the Congressional Review Act. The obscure procedural maneuver requires only a simply majority, meaning Senate Democrats had no hope of stopping it through a filibuster. In passing the resolution, Republicans not only killed the rule, but also made sure the Labor Department never puts forward a similar rule again, unless Congress tells it to. 

President Donald Trump is expected to sign off on the resolution, peeling back yet another regulation on employers.

“It’s insane,” said Debbie Berkowitz, a workplace safety expert at the National Employment Law Project, a nonprofit that advocates for low-wage workers. “This is really a vote against working families. There’s been a big misinformation campaign by big business.”

Obama’s rule would have required companies seeking federal contracts to disclose violations of labor law — including minimum wage, overtime, and health and safety statutes— over the previous three years. Federal agencies would have been able to consider those violations when doling out contracts. 

Backers of the rule, which included Democrats and worker groups, said it would have helped assure that the nation’s most unscrupulous employers aren’t rewarded with taxpayer dollars. Republicans and business groups claimed it would have unfairly punished companies without giving them due process. They dubbed it the “blacklisting” rule. 

But even a record of violations wouldn’t have precluded a company from receiving contracts. Under the rule, firms bidding for contracts would have had the opportunity to explain mitigating circumstances and steps they took to address the problem. The Obama White House said the goal of the rule was to get companies in compliance with the law.

Studies have shown that many federal contractors routinely break workplace laws, and many continue to receive contracts regardless of violations.

The Labor Department estimated that the rule would have applied to roughly 14,000 contractors each year. “Only a small share of these companies is expected to have reportable violations, and even fewer are expected to have serious, repeated, willful, or pervasive violations to report,” the department noted. 

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) released a report ahead of Monday’s vote that found 66 of the government’s 100 largest contractors have broken labor laws.

As Republicans and the Trump White House race to kill regulations, the Labor Department has become a top target. Last week, House Republicans used the Congressional Review Act in an effort to undo a different labor rule, one that would require employers to...


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