Just days after federally contracted workers in Washington, D.C. went on strike, the White House is reportedly preparing to hand them another big win.
President Obama will sign an executive order Thursday aimed at boosting labor law compliance among federal contractors, The Huffington Post reported on Wednesday evening.
This would be the third executive order this year the president has issued regarding workplace conditions at federally contracted companies. The first of those executive orders, which the president signed in February, requires that all companies with federal contracts pay their employees a minimum of $10.10 per hour. Four months later, Obama issued an executive order banning LGBT discrimination at companies with federal contracts.
The exact nature of this third executive order remains a little hazy, but The Huffington Post’s Sam Stein reports that it is expected to “require contractors to disclose labor law violations” and “encourage executive agencies to consider labor law violations when ordering federal contracts.” The result would be another significant victory for striking federally contracted workers, who have organized together under the umbrella of the group Good Jobs Nation, a project of the labor coalition Change to Win.
“Once again, the President is leading by example. Establishing the principle that if you are breaking the law, you don’t get to do business with the biggest employer in the country – the federal government,” said Joe Geevarghese, Change to Win’s deputy director. “Just like the executive order raising the minimum wage had a ripple effect across the economy, we hope that this bold step by the President sends a clear signal to the private sector that you need to do right by your workers.”
The first executive order, setting the $10.10 minimum wage for federal contractors, came after workers affiliated with Good Jobs Nation engaged in a series of day-long strikes demanding that President Obama take action to lift their pay. Having won that victory, the Good Jobs Nation campaign has pivoted in recent months to a more ambitious list of demands. By this Tuesday – the day of the most recent Good Jobs Nation strike – workers were calling on President Obama to lift their wages even further and take action to make it easier for them to unionize.
Good Jobs Nation also called for an executive order which would prevent companies found guilty of wage theft from obtaining federal contracts.
Recent legislative action by Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., may provide a hint of what’s to come in Thursday’s rumored executive order. Amendments introduced into various appropriations bills by Ellison would have the effect of cancelling federal contracts for businesses found guilty of wage theft. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has lobbied vociferously against Ellison’s amendments.
“Congress has already enacted numerous laws covering employment in the workplace,” said Chamber of Commerce Senior Vice President Randy Johnson in a statement to msnbc regarding the expected action from the president. “These laws are enforced by a variety of agencies with expertise in enforcing those laws, which are interpreted through thousands of pages of regulations and court decisions. If the president wants to add the penalty of debarment from federal contracts to be determined by procurement officials without expertise in those laws, he needs to go to Congress and get the proper authority.”
A spokesperson for Ellison’s office declined to comment.