Senate Passes Measure to Repeal “Blacklisting” Rule

On March 6, the Senate voted 49-48 for H.J. Res. 37, a Resolution of Disapproval that would scrap regulations and guidance implementing former President Obama’s Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order, according to Construction Labor Report.

Dubbed the “blacklisting” rule by business groups, the Executive Order requires federal contractors to disclose labor and employment law violations when bidding on a new contract worth at least $500,000. The rule also requires contractors to provide wage statements to certain workers, detailing their total and overtime hours, pay rates, gross wage and any itemized deductions.

Authorized by the Congressional Review Act, the resolution to block the rule passed the House in February and now goes to the president, who is expected to sign it.

“The so-called blacklisting rule is yet another Obama-era regulation that exceeds the authority of government, is duplicative and violates due process rights for businesses,” said Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), chairman of the HELP Committee’s Employment and Workplace Safety Subcommittee, in a written statement following the vote.

The House and Senate passed the resolution despite criticism from Democrats and worker advocates, who said the order would ensure federal contractors abide by labor standards and civil rights laws.

The disclosure requirements have been in limbo since a federal judge in Texas put much of the implementing regulations on hold in October 2016; that decision currently is on appeal.

The Senate vote came the same day Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) released a report concluding that “major federal contractors regularly engage in illegal practices that harm workers financially and endanger their health and safety.”

Republicans have defended the resolution, saying the rule impeded job creation because of “overreach” that allows government bureaucrats to “blacklist” contractors based on unproven allegations.

Before the vote, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) urged Senate members to support the effort to remove the order, saying U.S. businesses shouldn’t be blocked from earning government contracts based on allegations.

“We all agree companies should be held accountable and workers’ rights should be protected,” McConnell said. “Current law does just that. The ‘blacklisting’ rule isn’t about helping workers, it’s about empowering the powerful, like union bosses, and it would make a system designed to project workers less efficient.”

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) disagreed, saying the Executive Order was intended to ensure contractors “play by the same rules.”

“This Executive Order is not about exclusion or about blackballing,” Blumenthal said. “In fact, it’s about inclusion and working with companies to bring them into compliance so they obey the law, knowing what the rules are and wanting everybody to play by the same rules, not having an unfair advantage.”

Updated: March 14, 2017 — 1:07 PM
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