The U.S. Chamber of Commerce submitted comments sharply criticizing the administration’s proposed Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council (FAR Council) regulation and proposed Department of Labor guidance that would implement Executive Order 13673, “Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces.”
“This rulemaking steps well outside the bounds of any constitutional or statutory support and is unnecessary since strong protections are already in place.” said Randy Johnson, senior vice president of labor, immigration and employee benefits for the U.S. Chamber. “Our comments argue that these proposed rules are an improper attempt to usurp legislative powers from Congress, would increase the cost of federal contracting and ultimately create more burdens for taxpayers. Additionally, the proposed implementation of the executive order creates a highly complex, dispersed, and cumbersome set of standards and a bureaucratic structure that will strain federal procurement resources, increase contractor costs, and make the procurement system more inefficient.”
President Obama’s E.O. follows on a similar effort from the Clinton administration that was ultimately withdrawn by President George W. Bush. During the transition period in 2008, the AFL-CIO specifically requested that the Obama administration resurrect this concept as to help in their efforts to target certain employers.
“This E.O. is further evidence that the President is determined to give his union supporters what they want, even if this means running afoul of the Constitution and the will of Congress,” added Johnson. “What’s driving this whole initiative is not a concern about improving the integrity of the contracting process, but rather an attempt to give organized labor one more weapon to unionize employers through corporate campaigns. Long on the wish list of organized labor, unions will file frivolous cases against employers which can then be used against employers to unfairly deprive them of federal contracts under this proposal. The one way to make sure this does not happen is to recognize the union--employers will be caught between a rock and a hard place.”