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Rep. Keith Ellison
Rep. Keith Ellison
Weeks after President Barack Obama signed an executive order raising the minimum wage for federal contract workers to $10.10 an hour, the leaders of the Congressional Progressive Caucus are urging Labor Secretary Thomas Perez to crack down on wage theft among federal contractors. Applauding that executive order, Reps. Keith Ellison and Raul Grijalva and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton went on to caution that "without stronger wage theft enforcement, these wage increases and overtime protections could be at risk." Cracking down on wage theft among federal contractors could make a real difference, they suggested in a letter to Perez, because:
Recent studies indicate that federal contractors are among America’s worst perpetrators of wage theft. A report by the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee of the United States Senate revealed that 32 percent of the largest Department of Labor penalties for wage theft were levied against federal contractors. Similarly, a National Employment Law Project study found that nearly one in three low-wage contract workers in the DC metro area reported stolen wages. Contract workers at the Ronald Reagan Building and Union Station filed wage theft complaints alleging widespread violations of law among federal contractors, including being paid below the minimum wage, being forced to work off the clock, and not receiving time-and-a-half for overtime.
Better data on wage violators, the CPC leaders argue, would make it possible to consider such violations in decision-making about future contracts, and "consideration of those violations in future contract award decisions would send a clear signal to contractors that the federal government will not do business with law-breakers." Seriously. "We will not award contracts to companies that don't pay their workers according to the law" should be a fairly basic federal policy.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Thu Apr 03, 2014 at 08:35 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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