Obama signs pro-labor executive orders

Obama signs pro-labor executive orders

[JURIST] US President Barack Obama [JURIST news archive] Friday issued three executive orders favoring organized labor and departing from the pro-employer labor policies of the previous Bush administration. Notification of employee rights under federal labor law [PDF text] requires employers working under government contracts to clearly notify employees of their rights under the National Labor Relations Act [text]. The order says that it is "designed to promote economy and efficiency in Government procurement":

When the Federal Government contracts for goods or services, it has a proprietary interest in ensuring that those contracts will be performed by contractors whose work will not be interrupted by labor unrest. The attainment of industrial peace is most easily achieved and workers' productivity is enhanced when workers are well informed of their rights under Federal labor laws, including the National Labor Relations Act (Act), 29 U.S.C. 151 et seq. As the Act recognizes, "encouraging the practice and procedure of collective bargaining and . . . protecting the exercise by workers of full freedom of association, self-organization, and designation of representatives of their own choosing, for the purpose of negotiating the terms and conditions of their employment or other mutual aid or protection" will "eliminate the causes of certain substantial obstructions to the free flow of commerce" and "mitigate and eliminate these obstructions when they have occurred."

The second order, Economy in government contracting [PDF text] prohibits government contractors from assigning costs associated with dissuading employees from participating in collective bargaining agreements to the government contract. The order does allow expenses for employee-generated publications on collective bargaining to be assigned to the contracts.

The third order, Nondisplacement of qualified workers under service contracts [PDF text] requires government contractors who take over a service contract from an existing provider to retain qualified employees of the previous provider. The order justifies the policy, saying that it will provide for the effective execution of the contracts:

A carryover work force reduces disruption to the delivery of services during the period of transition between contractors and provides the Federal Government the benefits of an experienced and trained work force that is familiar with the Federal Government's personnel, facilities, and requirements.

The orders were issued [remarks transcript] in conjunction with the establishment of a Middle Class Task Force [official website] led by Vice President Joe Biden.