Washington DC– The Congressional Progressive Caucus today sent the following recommendation that Members of Congress vote ‘No’ on final passage of the FY15 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).  The recommendation is based on Section 1095, which would block the implementation of President Obama’s Executive Order on Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces (E.O. 13673).

Dear Colleague:

We ask you to join us in opposing the National Defense Authorization Act, which, in addition to including troubling provisions blocking the closure of Guantanamo Bay and allowing discrimination against LGBT individuals, also includes a poison pill amendment that would block the implementation of President Obama’s Executive Order on Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces (E.O. 13673). 

The Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces E.O. is designed to help ensure that companies with federal contracts are following federal labor laws, like protections against wage theft, workplace safety rules, and the right for workers to organize. It will ensure that taxpayer dollars are not being used for companies that are committing wage theft or subjecting their workers to potentially unsafe working conditions.

In 2012, the government awarded $81 billion in contracts to 49 companies that were among the most egregious violators of wage and hour or workplace safety laws over a recent six-year period, according to a staff report issued by the Senate HELP Committee. In 2010, the GAO found that one third of the companies that had the largest sanctions for wage and hour and workplace safety laws subsequently received government contracts.

Contracting with companies that have egregious workplace violations frequently results in poor contract performance, squanders taxpayer dollars, and delivers low-quality services to the government and ultimately U.S. taxpayers, including fraudulent billing statements, cost overruns, and schedule delays. It also unfairly puts law-abiding companies at a disadvantage by making them compete with contractors that are cutting corners.

The Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces EO will create a fair and robust process for reviewing the labor law compliance records of companies before contracts are awarded. The Department has made clear that the goal is to help contractors comply with federal laws and not bar them from contracts. Debarment is a last resort—it’s the nuclear option for companies that refuse to correct their behavior.

Earlier this week, we submitted an amendment to the House Rules Committee to strip the Kline amendment, but were denied the opportunity to debate this critical issue on the floor of the House.

As such, we have no option but to encourage our colleagues to oppose the FY2017 National Defense Authorization Act. We hope you will join us in standing with workers, ethical businesses, and the American taxpayer and against wage theft by opposing H.R. 4909