President Obama has signed another executive order requiring all prospective federal contractors to disclose any labor law violations. The information would then given to agencies to consider before awarding contracts.
"By cracking down on federal contractors who break the law, the president is helping ensure that all hardworking Americans get the fair pay and safe workplaces they deserve," a White House fact sheet said. "Taxpayer dollars shouldn't be used by unscrupulous employers to drive down living standards for our families, neighbors, and communities."
"This order protects both workers and taxpayers," Obama spoke to those gathered at the signing in the White House South Court Auditorium. "It covers companies that make everything from fighter jets to flak jackets, from computers to pens."
Although the drafters of the order acknowledged that many contractors already play by the rules and that contracting officers already assess the firms seeking federal business. They said the need for additional information is still there, "these officers still may not necessarily know about companies' workplace violations," the White House said.
The order also sets up a new process to encourage companies to settle existing disputes, such as paying back wages, and requires them to give workers access to information to regularly verify the accuracy of their paychecks. In addition, "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," the fact sheet said.
The order applies to contractors with more than $500,000, and could affect 24,000 businesses employing 28 million workers.
It is being said that the order is designed to give a fairer shake to companies that do comply with labor laws as well as encourage all companies to improve their records. However critics fear that the new rules may make an already difficult process more cumbersome when the information sought is already available.