There has been in influx of claimants raising issues against companies alleging they are subjecting their employees to unsafe work conditions, or not paying them the wages they deserve. A report was just released finding that federal contractors all too often violate labor laws while taking in tax payer’s dollars.
“All Americans deserve a safe workplace and fair pay for a day’s work,” said Elizabeth Warren in a statement. The jobs that have the most issues are also often the most critical for the economy, building infrastructure and leading to job creation. To save money and time, these workers are exposed to unsafe conditions. Oftentimes, simple safety measures such as requiring workers to use harnesses or wear helmets are not being considered. Individuals are getting injured by clearly avoidable accidents because employers are choosing to turn blind eye and pay out fees for violations as necessary.
The report was released just before the Senate plans to vote on a resolution to institute a regulation requiring federal contractors to report proven and alleged labor violations that occurred within the past three years while they were placing bids on contracts totaling more than $500,000. The House already voted against this rule. Republicans believe the rule would increase costs for business compliance and make unions more powerful. However, the report, which shows that nearly two thirds of the federal government’s 100 largest contractors have been caught violating laws, states otherwise.
Warren argues it will make it easier for the federal government to choose contractors who are focused on protecting their employees. The report also shows that more than a third of the 100 largest fines imposed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration since early 2015 were issued to companies that have held federal contracts over the last ten years. Federal contracts have led to substantial job creation, and nearly a quarter of the American workforce is currently employed at a company holding at least one federal contract.
“Too often, federal contractors break labor laws while continuing to suck down millions in tax payer dollars,” says Warren. “Instead of making it easier for companies to cheat their employees or threaten workers’ health and safety, President Trump and Republicans in Congress should join Democrats in standing up for the hard working Americans who do important jobs for our country.”
In other words, the situation hasn’t been taken very seriously. The issues are still happening and companies are continuing to operate despite known hazards, particularly if they are relied upon for economic growth. OSHA has been understaffed as of late, adding to the issue, and many employers are using undocumented workers to minimize backlash.
The Department of Justice has received pleas to open criminal investigations against offenders as lawsuits are being issued in an effort to put a stop to chronic offenders. On Friday, Senators Warren, Patty Murray, and Sanders asked the Department of Justice to open a criminal investigation into federal contractor VT Halter Marine’s repeated safety violations, which have resulted in worker injuries and deaths. This is just one example of many that deserve a closer look.