Obama order to expand labor rights for contractors

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is preparing to sign an executive order cracking down on labor violations by companies that contract with the federal government, the White House said Wednesday.

Obama's order will require companies seeking federal contracts valued at more than $500,000 to make any previous violations of labor laws public, a step the Obama administration hopes will incentivize companies to resolve labor disputes such as back wage claims.

Federal agencies will be given more guidance on how labor violations should factor into their decision-making as they award lucrative contracts, officials said.

In a bid to allow potential victims to have their day in court, the president's order will also prohibit companies pursuing government contracts from requiring their workers to agree upfront to mandatory arbitration, in which an intermediary hears both sides and then makes a binding decision. That provision, which applies to new contracts exceeding $1 million, will affect disputes brought under the anti-discrimination section of the Civil Rights Act or to accusations of sexual assault or harassment.

The order also requires that workers be given information each pay period to allow them to determine whether their paychecks are accurate.

Obama plans to sign the order at the White House during an event on Thursday, officials said. The Huffington Post first reported that Obama would sign the order.