Congressional Republicans Move to Undo Obama EO, Fire First Shot on Working Families

Washington, DC—Following is a statement by Christine Owens, Executive Director, National Employment Law Project:

“Republicans in Congress are moving today to undo Obama’s executive order and final rule on Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces, the start of what we fear will be a sustained assault on America’s working families. A Congressional vote, expected Thursday, will strip these common-sense safeguards away from workers, taxpayers, and law-abiding businesses.

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“The Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces rule was designed to protect workers and safeguard taxpayer dollars. The idea was that before federal agencies award contracts of more than $500,000 to a contractor, they should check whether the company has complied with labor laws. The rule simply required that contractors disclose any violations of worker protection laws—the same way they have to disclose violations of other laws when bidding for a contract.

“The policy requires simple disclosures and would encourage egregious violators to comply with the law. This sensible policy underscores the fundamental principle that companies that play by the rules shouldn’t be undercut by those that don’t pay the minimum wage or don’t respect basic health and safety protections.

“But this move by Congressional Republicans gives in to powerful corporate lobbyists and will harm the one in five Americans who work in companies that do business with the federal government. Now, violators of worker protection laws like Tyson Foods—the chicken and meat processor that gets tens of millions of dollars in federal contracts, and has scores of serious safety violations and the fourth-highest number of reported amputations and hospitalizations of any company—will no longer be held accountable before receiving taxpayer money.

“Just over a week after being inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States, Donald Trump is facing a test on whether he will stand up for America’s working families. Mr. Trump said during his inauguration that ‘every decision . . . will be made to benefit American workers’ and that ‘the forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer.’

“But actions speak louder than words. The most far-reaching step Mr. Trump has taken so far with respect to workers—his controversial nomination of fast-food CEO Andrew Puzder for U.S. labor secretary—raises deep concerns about his commitment to workers. Supporting this move by Congressional Republicans would reinforce the idea that Trump’s actions are the opposite of his rhetoric, for the move benefits wealthy and powerful corporations at the expense of regular working Americans.

“If Mr. Trump decides to support this axing of worker protections, it sends a strong signal that big business and its lobbyists—and not the interests of workers—will drive the administration’s agenda.

“Working people cannot afford to go backward. All who are genuinely concerned about the welfare of America’s workers must resist these attacks on worker rights at every step, starting now.”

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