Steve Greenhouse, who has the labor beat (assuming that is still a proper term) for the NYT has an article today about the Obama’s administration plans to utilize government contracting to increase wages and benefits for employees, Obama Aims to Use Federal Contracts as a Way to Lift Wages. The article focuses on the potential economic benefit to workers, but notes the concerns of the business and employer community.
If this seems like deja vu, it is. See Clinton to modify contractor ‘blacklisting’ rule, from the March 13, 2000 Buffalo Business First newspaper. By December 20, 2000, that story had evolved into a final rule that was published in the federal register. The regulations were suspended by the Bush Administration.
According to Greenhouse’s article, the Obama administration proposal, still in the writing phase, would go further.
Much of the concern in the Clinton regulations by the business and employer community focused on this aspect. Each potential government contractor would have to provide the following information which would be taken into account in determining the acceptable bidder:
within the past three years, been convicted of any felonies (or has any felony indictment currently pending against them) arising from any Federal tax, labor and employment, environmental, antitrust, or consumer protection laws, had any adverse court judgments in civil cases against them arising from any Federal tax, labor and employment, environmental, antitrust, or consumer protection laws in which the United States brought the action, or been found by a Federal Administrative Law Judge, agency, board or commission to have violated any Federal tax, labor and employment, environmental, antitrust, or consumer protection law. If the respondent has answered “has” to the above question, please explain the nature of the violation and whether any fines, penalties, or damages were assessed.
From the employment law side, this raised the concern of just what impact adverse determinations, perhaps even agency finding by the EEOC, the NLRB or similar agencies would have on their ability to obtain government contracts.
No doubt that battle is about to resume in the very near future.
The “MSM Catches Up” in the title is just a little brag (as recognized by Greenhouse in his article) that an online publication, Tucker Carlson’s Daily Caller was first out with the story on February 4th, White House considers pro-labor policy for government contractors, which I picked up in my post on February 9th. Gautham Nagesh, who used to cover government contracting at the Government Executive magazine, has followed up with additional stories:
Backdoor card check: GOP slams pro-union contracting policy, February 11; and
and of course, because it’s the way the blogosphere works, hat tip to my friends at Workplace Prof blog, Federal Contractors and Wages and Benefits, which alerted me to Steve Greenhouse’s article.
All snarkiness aside, this is is going to be a major story and there will be plenty to cover for both the MSM and those of us in whatever we are.
Last time around, the story didn’t play out because of the election of 2000. This time, it’s a long time until 2012.