One of the most important things we do at the Department of Labor is enforce laws aimed at protecting workers on the job – laws that ensure they’re paid what they’re owed; laws that set health and safety standards so they don’t have to risk their lives for their livelihood; laws that prohibit discrimination.
These are laws that reflect our values as Americans. They not only protect workers – they also create a level playing field for employers who play by the rules.
When companies violate these laws, they must be held accountable, and they shouldn’t be rewarded. Unfortunately, in recent years a number of reports and studies have found that there are companies receiving lucrative federal contracts that have a history of labor law violations. At least one of those studies found that contractors who had committed workplace violations also went on to have significant performance problems as well.
Taxpayer dollars should not be spent to subsidize bad employment practices. Instead, we should use those dollars to encourage fairness.
For this reason, as part of his Year of Action, the president today signed an executive order requiring companies competing for federal contracts to disclose labor law violations, and giving agencies more guidance on how to consider labor violations when awarding federal contracts.
Under current regulations, procurement officers already must assess a contractor’s record of integrity and business ethics, but they do not necessarily know whether the company has committed any workplace violations. This executive order provides them with the information and guidance they need to make these determinations.
The new process aims to bring more companies into compliance, not to keep them from winning federal contracts. It imposes minimal burdens on the vast majority of companies who play by the rules.
The federal government shouldn’t do business with companies that violate labor laws and exploit their workers. As the president often says, in America, if you work hard, take responsibility and play by the rules, you deserve a fair shot at getting ahead. It’s true for workers, and it’s true for employers too.
Rewarding contractors who cut corners doesn’t just hurt their workers. It hurts the overwhelming majority of employers who do the right thing. And it hurts the American taxpayer.
Today’s executive order is an important step to ensure that workers are protected, businesses have a fair shot to compete and taxpayers get the best bang for their buck.
Cheaters shouldn’t win. This action ensures they won’t.
Follow Secretary Perez on Twitter as @LaborSec.