Pres. Obama Issues First Labor Executive Orders
On January 30, Pres. Obama issued three executive orders favorable to organized labor. At least one of them could have a significant impact on federal construction contractors.
1. Economy in Government Contracts
This order prevents federal contractors from being reimbursed for expenses incurred in trying to influence workers’ decision about whether to form a union or engage in collective bargaining, known as “persuader” activity.
2. Nondisplacement of Qualified Workers Under Service Contracts
This order requires federal service contractors, when contracts change, to offer jobs to qualified workers already on the project. It does not directly affect construction contractors.
3. Notification of Employee Rights Under Federal Labor Laws
This order reverses Pres. George W. Bush’s executive order that required most federal contractors to post a notice informing workers of their right not to join a union or pay union dues. (These rights are often referred to as “Beck rights” because they were largely established by the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1988 decision in Communications Workers v. Beck.) It also directs contracting agencies to include a new clause in all federal contracts that (a) requires contractors to post a new notice to be developed by the Secretary of Labor and (b) establishes broad contractual remedies for a contractor’s failure to post or abide by the notice. It further requires the Secretary of Labor to issue rules, regulations, and orders as needed to implement the executive order.
AGC is concerned about the order’s vagueness regarding the content of the new notice and regulations to be issued by the Secretary of Labor. The order merely indicates that they will address employee rights “under Federal labor laws, including the National Labor Relations Act.” AGC is also concerned about the extreme remedies established for failure to post or abide by the notice, which include contract termination and debarment. AGC is following the matter closely and will take action as needed.
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