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US Govt. issues rule to avoid contracting with companies that have violated labour rights protections

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Article
26 August 2016

Fair Pay, Safe Workplaces, Republican Objections

Author: [editorial] New York Times (USA)

In 2014,...a Senate report found that many federal contractors had been repeatedly cited for cheating, harassing and injuring their employees... Federal contracting is a $500-billion-a-year business, and federal labor law includes 14 different statutes... This week, in a big step forward for labor standards, the final regulations and guidance [on checking compliance with labor laws by government contractors] were issued. The new procedures...require procurement officials to take the common-sense step of considering past wrongdoing that is serious, willful, repeated or pervasive... 

The main goal is...to rectify and prevent violations. To that end, the new rules allow companies to meet with compliance officials and develop plans to fix violations before submitting bids... Even so, some Republicans in Congress oppose the effort.

At last, the government has devised a means to better protect American workers and ensure that companies obey the law. Why would anyone stand in the way?

[refers to Tyson Foods]

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Article
26 August 2016

Q&A: Some thoughts on the fair pay, safe workplaces and sex discrimination regs

Author: Lydell C. Bridgeford, Bloomberg BNA (USA)

On Aug. 24, the Department of Labor issued final regulations...requiring federal contractors and subcontractors to disclose violations of 14 federal labor laws and state law equivalents, when bidding on a government contract... On Aug. 15, the revised sex discrimination regulations enforced by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs went into effect...

[Interview with Juanita Beecher, lawyer at Fortney & Scott]

[Contractors] shouldn’t wait to begin compliance efforts. At the very least, contractors should immediately begin to [among other steps]:

  • Establish a multi-discipline team including at a minimum—compliance, law, health and safety, and management;...
  • Set up a process to collect data from the corporate entities on all activity with the 14 federal agencies and any state [occupational safety & health] agencies, as well as any arbitration or litigation on labor and employment law

...[In the new anti-discrimination rule, the] OFCCP...has expanded the definition of what is sex to include gender identity and pregnancy.

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Article
24 August 2016

Labor Department Ensures Federal Contractors Comply with LGBTQ Non-Discrim Protections

Author: Human Rights Campaign (USA)

Today, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued final regulations...on Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces...[which] will help to ensure companies contracting with the federal government comply with non-discrimination protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity...

“With these regulations, the Department of Labor is implementing President Obama’s executive order that helps provide crucial non-discrimination protections to employees of companies contracting with the federal government,” said HRC Government Affairs Director David Stacy. “All workers, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, deserve to be able to go to work and make a living free from unfair and unjust discrimination. These regulations will level the playing field for companies that play by the rules and know that equal opportunity and non-discrimination protections are good for business. They will also help ensure taxpayer funds are not used to unlawfully discriminate against LGBTQ people.”...

While these regulations will help protect employees of companies contracting with the federal government, the existing patchwork of legal protections for LGBTQ people in the United States as a whole leaves millions subject to uncertainty and at risk of discrimination.

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Article
23 August 2016

New Rule From Obama Will Punish Contractors Who Cheat Or Endanger Workers

Author: Dave Jamieson, Huffington Post (USA)

...[The] Obama administration...[has issued an] executive order...[to] bar companies from receiving federal contracts if they recently violated labor laws. Known as the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces executive order, the new regulation is meant to reward good actors and punish bad ones, encouraging employers to take the high road if they want government money... Labor Secretary Tom Perez [said,] “The contractors who are doing the right thing should not have to compete for contracts with those who don’t.” ...[Business] groups...vehemently opposed the regulation and lobbied to have it watered down or spiked... Under the rule, companies that want to bid on contracts will have to disclose to the government whether they ran afoul of laws covering workplace safety, workplace discrimination, labor organizing rights, or minimum wage and overtime during the previous three years... 

Senate Democrats issued a report in 2013 showing that 49 contractors with serious labor violations enjoyed $81 billion in federal contracts in 2012 alone. “Almost 30 percent of companies receiving the highest penalties for violations of federal labor law are also federal contractors,” the report found.  [Occupational safety & health] violations, in particular, tend to come with meager fines, which critics say leaves employers with little incentive to improve safety.

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