A new congressional report criticizes the federal government for awarding tens of billions of dollars in contracts to companies even though they were found to have violated safety and wage laws and paid millions in penalties. Issued on behalf of the Democratic senators on the Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee, the report cited examples over the past six years…
…The report urges the government to weigh a company’s safety and wage violations more closely as it awards contracts, which are about $500 billion a year to companies employing 26 million workers, representing 22 percent of the nation’s work force. It stops short of recommending automatic suspension of contracts or debarring contractors that were found to have violated federal laws, partly because government agencies were sometimes at fault, a committee staff member said. …
…According to the report, 18 federal contractors — including Imperial Sugar — were among the recipients of the largest 100 penalties issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration from 2007 to 2012. The report found that 32 federal contractors were among the leading companies in the amount of back pay assessed for wage violations between 2007 and 2012. …
Acting Responsibly? Federal Contractors Frequently Put Workers’ Lives and Livelihoods at Risk
Source: Tom Harkin, U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, Majority Committee Staff Report, December 11, 2013
From the summary:
– Eighteen federal contractors were recipients of one of the largest 100 penalties issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) of the Department of Labor between 2007 and 2012. Almost half of the total initial penalty dollars assessed for OSHA violations were against companies holding federal contracts in 2012.
– Forty-two American workers died during this period as a result of OSHA violations by companies holding federal contracts in 2012.
– Thirty-two federal contractors received back wage assessments among the largest 100 issued by the Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor between 2007 and 2012.
– Thirty-five of these companies violated both wage and safety laws.
– Overall, the 49 federal contractors responsible for large violations of federal labor laws were cited for 1,776 separate violations of these laws and paid $196 million in penalties and assessments. In fiscal year 2012, these same companies were awarded $81 billion in taxpayer dollars.