GOP just gave federal contractors carte blanche to abuse American workers


Donald Trump and the Republicans are moving forward with their disastrous plan to repeal Obamacare, but taking away access to affordable health care from millions of Americans is not the only harmful item on their agenda. The GOP has already quietly gutted the rights of the very American workers Trump pretends to champion.

As Donald Trump and the GOP focused their attention this week on their harmful plan to repeal Obamacare, Senate Republicans voted, without fanfare and with minimal media attention, to eliminate the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces rule signed by President Barack Obama in 2014, which protected workers employed by federal contractors from wage theft, unsafe working conditions, and other unlawful and harmful actions.

In stark contrast to the current president's track record of not paying American workers and breaching contractual relationships, and his attempt to appoint a vehemently anti-worker CEO to head the Labor Department, Obama refused to do business with or enrich companies that failed to treat and pay workers fairly.

According to Debbie Berkowitz, a former senior advisor with the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces order was necessary because "many companies with significant violations of worker protection laws" received federal contracts. In fact, she noted:

[A] 2013 Senate report found that almost 30 percent of companies facing the greatest penalties for labor law violations nonetheless continued to receive federal contracts.

Furthermore, a report issued on Monday by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) showed that 66 of the federal government's 100 largest contractors have been caught breaking federal wage and hour laws, and more than a third of the 100 largest penalties levied by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) since 2015 were issued to companies that held federal contracts.

But this week, the Senate approved a resolution from the House to end this necessary rule, thus giving corporations that benefit from taxpayer-subsidized federal contracts carte blanche to abuse the rights of American workers.

Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) blasted her Senate colleagues and implored the Republican Congress and Trump to live up to the promises they made to the American people when they campaigned for office:

M. President, when President Trump was running for office, he claimed that he was going to be a President who fought for the middle class.

He made a promise—that he wasn’t going to do what most Republicans have done in recent years—and simply work for millionaires and billionaires. But that he was going to be different. And that he would be someone workers could count on.

Well, M. President, we are just over a month into this Presidency, and it couldn’t be clearer: President Trump is breaking his promises. Whether it’s his cabinet picks—billionaires, Wall Street bankers, and corporate CEOs; his rush to destroy our health care system and create chaos for families across the country; or this—what Republicans have chosen to bring to the floor today—another effort that would hurt workers, hurt the middle class, and hurt the economy. [...]

[A]s I’ve said time and again, families nationwide are sending a very clear message—at marches, in phone calls and letters, online and in their communities—they expect and are demanding that their representatives are truly committed to working for them.

I, for one, am committed to standing with them, I know my colleagues are committed, and we are prepared to fight back.

Trump campaigned on a promise to place American workers first. But his actions as president — on the banking industry, big energy, health care, wages, worker safety, and a host of other issues, including his use of the office of the President to enrich himself — show that neither Trump nor the Republican Congress consider the lives and livelihoods of ordinary Americans as a value at all, much less a priority.