The White House held a “listening session” on the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order with major employer association representatives on Friday, October 13, 2014. The Executive action calls on the U.S. Department of Labor DOL to issue regulations that would impose multiple new obligations on federal government contractors.
The meeting was hosted by Thomas E. Perez, U.S. Secretary of Labor, and Cecilia Muñoz, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council. This was the fourth in a series of listening sessions on the Executive Order (E.O.) held to field stakeholder questions and concerns.
The E.O. is the source of deep concern for many employer groups and government contractors. The E.O.'s requirements would greatly increase the risks that federal contractors will confront in performing services for the government.
Twenty-three leading employer associations participated in the meeting, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Associated Builders and Contractors, and the International Franchise Association. The groups raised several questions about the intent and applications of the E.O. during the meeting, including who will be considered a "bad actor" under the E.O., and who will be considered the "offeror" or contract bidder under the directive. Because this was a listening session only, the hosts did not provide responses to these queries, but took them under advisement.
Business representatives presented divergent views at the meeting. A small business representative expressed support for the way the E.O. would “level the playing field” for small businesses in competition with large contractors. But another small business representative replied that, far from leveling the playing field, the new requirements contained in the E.O. may encourage small operators to withdraw from the federal market altogether.
Also present at the meeting were the DOL’s Sharon Block – a current National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) nominee and former recess appointee to the Board – and Lafe Solomon, the former NLRB General Counsel.
There is no public timetable for the Federal Acquisition Regulatory (FAR) Council or the DOL to issue regulations or guidance on the E.O.