[WASHINGTON, DC] – U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, today introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to ensure that the Executive Order on Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces continues to apply to all defense contractors, continuing an effort he led during the Armed Services Committee markup of the NDAA. President Obama signed the Executive Order on Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces in 2014 in order ensure that federal contractors disclose their compliance record with labor laws designed to promote safe, healthy, fair, and effective workplaces. A harmful provision currently included in the NDAA would limit the Executive Order to defense contractors who have been debarred or suspended as a result of previous violations of labor laws.
Blumenthal’s amendment would ensure that before granting and renewing federal contracts, the Department of Defense considers every contractors’ record of providing workers with a safe and fair workplace, and paying workers the money they have earned. It is cosponsored by Senators Patty Murray (D-WA), Al Franken (D-MN), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Jack Reed (D-RI), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), and Barbara Boxer (D-CA).
“The damaging language currently included in the defense bill unjustifiably prevents the President’s Fair Pay Executive Order from being consistently and appropriately applied to all defense contractors and must be eliminated,” Blumenthal said. “By simply requiring transparency about contractors’ ability to follow long-established labor laws, my amendment ensures a level playing field for law-abiding businesses, holds contractors accountable for the taxpayer dollars that foot contractors’ paychecks, and protects the rights of millions of hard-working Americans.”
In 2014, President Barack Obama signed the Executive Order on Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces to require prospective federal contractors to disclose violations of 14 laws, including the Fair Labor Standards Act, Occupational Safety and Health Act, Vietnam Era Veterans Readjustment Assistance Act, Americans with Disabilities Act, and more. A copy of the executive order listing these laws is available here. This Executive Order gives agencies more guidance on how to consider violations of these laws when awarding federal contracts. The new process is structured to encourage companies to settle existing disputes, like having employers pay employees back wages. It also helps ensure workers are given the necessary information each pay period to verify the accuracy of their paycheck. And the order ensures that workers who may have been sexually assaulted or had their civil rights violated get their day in court by putting an end to mandatory arbitration agreements at corporations with large federal contracts. Section 829H of the NDAA, however, guts the Executive Order, limiting it only to a handful of defense contractors that have been suspended or debarred.