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Press release/statement

Demos President Heather McGhee on President Obama's Latest Federal Contracting Executive Order

Today, President Obama will sign an Executive Order that will encourage federal agencies to not contract with companies that violate labor laws, and require federal contractors to disclose any record of wage, labor and anti-discrimination law violations.

Early this year, the President issued his first federal contracting Executive Order, raising the minimum wage for workers under new contracts to $10.10 an hour. Just weeks ago, Demos released Underwriting Good Jobs, calling for a Good Jobs Executive Order incentivizing federally-funded employers to raise labor standards. Today’s executive action is a critical piece of Demos’ Good Jobs policy recommendations, which also include collective bargaining rights and living wages to boost our economy and combat inequality.

In response, Demos President Heather McGhee issued the following statement:

“By enacting this Executive Order, the President is responding to a hard-fought campaign by workers to receive fair pay, benefits, and better working conditions. Demos has been proud to support this effort, releasing a series of reports revealing how taxpayers are unwittingly fueling income inequality through low-road contractors.

“The President’s action is necessary and legal. Under the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act of 1949 and subsequent court decisions, the President has the authority to set federal contracting practices by executive order. Our research suggests today’s order could protect at least 6.6 million Americans from abuses by their employers. Between 2007 and 2012, 49 of the 200 largest penalty violators for health, safety, and wage laws were federally contracted firms. A total of $196 million in penalties was paid, yet the government continued to award $81 billion in federal contracts to these companies in 2012.

“Building on the momentum of the minimum wage Executive Order, the President has taken another step to defend struggling Americans who are aspiring to the middle class. This legislation will help alleviate wage theft, family leave violations, and discrimination in our federal contracting system, protecting taxpayer dollars from going to companies that flagrantly and consistently break the law.  

Now, we call on the President to take further steps to give fully 8 million Americans a fair shot—with more executive action to ensure collective bargaining rights and limiting executive compensation to fifty times the median salary paid to the company’s workers.”

Experts Available:

  • Tamara Draut, Vice President of Policy & Research
  • Robert Hiltonsmith, Underwriting Good Jobs report author and Policy Analyst
  • Lew Daly, Underwriting Good Jobs report author and Director of Policy & Research

Related Research: