Sen. Smith Pushes to End Federal Contracts for Companies that Flout Employee Protection Laws

WASHINGTON, D.C. [06/15/18]–U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.) is pushing to prevent companies that mistreat their employees and repeatedly flout workplace protection laws from receiving taxpayer-funded federal contracts.

In legislation introduced this week, Sen. Smith would also expand other workplace protections for those employed by large federal contractors. Her legislation is largely similar to a President Obama Executive Order that was repealed last year.

“It’s pretty simple, taxpayer-funded government contracts should go to companies that follow the law and treat their workers fairly. Unfortunately, today, too many federal contracts are being awarded to companies with egregious and repeated violations of worker protection laws,” said Sen. Smith. “While most contractors treat their workers fairly, we should be cracking down on the bad actors that put workers’ lives and livelihoods at risk.”

The Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Act is based on President Obama’s executive order of the same name. While the Obama-era rules were repealed in 2017, Sen. Smith’s legislation would restore them. The bill would require the federal government to consider a company’s history of labor law violations in awarding federal contracts to ensure that taxpayer funds don’t go to companies that repeatedly violate the law. Companies with problematic records of mistreating their workers would be required to take steps to improve their treatment of workers or face the possibility of being barred from federal contracting. The bill would also ensure that workers for federal contractors receive pay stubs and aren’t forced to give up their rights to go to court for sexual harassment or sexual assault. Further, the bill would ensure that taxpayer funds aren’t used for union-busting activity. 

The Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Act was included in the Workers’ Freedom to Negotiate Act, a broader worker protection bill led by Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), the lead Democrat on the Senate Labor Committee. The bill is cosponsored by Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Tammy Baldwin (Wis.), and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.)  

You can access text of the bill here.