On the day that Republican Representatives voted to sue President Obama for what they consider is an overreach of his executive authority, the President signed a new executive order to protect federal contract workers.
Called the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order, it will put in place a new set of rules for contractors with more than $500,000 in federal procurements annually. According to a White House fact sheet, there are approximately 24,000 such businesses, which employ more than 28 million workers.
The primary goal is to improve contractor efficiency, the White House said. More specifically, the fact sheet says:
Federal agencies risk poor performance by awarding contracts to companies with a history of labor law violations. In 2010, the Government Accountability Office issued a report finding that almost two-thirds of the 50 largest wage-and-hour violations and almost 40 percent of the 50 largest workplace health-and-safety penalties issued between [Fiscal Year] 2005 and [Fiscal Year] 2009 were at companies that went on to receive new government contracts.
Under terms of the order, prospective contractors will be required to disclose labor violations in the prior three years. Violations will include for 14 federal and state statutes involving wages and hours, safety and health, collective bargaining, family and medical leave, as well as civil rights protections. Offending contractors will be given the opportunity to remedy violations and become compliant, but repeat violators will be tossed off the contracting rolls, the White House said.
The order further requires contractors to provide workers with specific information about their paychecks, including hours, overtime, and deductions. And it requires contractors with procurements worth more than $1 million to refrain from using arbitration clauses in their employment contracts related to Title VII Civil Rights Act sexual assualt and harassment.
The order will build on the exisiting procurement system, the White House said, and it is instructing the General Services Administration, which overseas contracting, to establish a centralized reporting system for contractors to enter their information.
President Obama has so far signed 183 executive orders, according to the nonpartisan American Presidency Project, an online archive or presidential documents. That's about 100 less than George W. Bush in his two terms, and about half the number Bill Clinton signed during his eight years in office.